Balthazar, a restaurant I've been wanting to go to and finally the chance came when three old friends finally made a date/found a date after almost 2 years of planning! Ridiculous I know!
Balthazar is an old timer in terms of fine dining in Perth. Known to make consistently delicious fine foods. It's located on the Esplanade in the City and with a sign high above it is easily missed as you walk by. The solid wooden doors hides a bar to the left and wooden stools seatting to the right and in front. It has an air of exclusivity and it's as though you have joined a secret hidden club.
Eventually when CN and EN arrived we were chauffeured to our seats. Balthazar's menu isn't extensive with about 5-6 choices of entree, mains and desserts, which is really the way I like it. It shows they specialise and focuses on making sure that their 5-6 dishes are the best (or at least I like to think that's how it is). We ordered a bottle of Riesling to start the night off, as the girls didn't like reds. Pity because the red wine list looked interesting.
We weren't very impressed by the entree choices so we opted to go straight to the mains and have desserts instead.
I ordered the Duck breast, quinoa, silverbeet, goji berries, pepper, caramel popcorn. I was slightly bemused by the inclusion of popcorn in my upmarket meal, but I suspect its an "in" thing, like mirco herbs and cooking in liquid nitrogen. The caramelised popcorn reminded me of the caramel popcorn you get in a bag, and ones I used to eat as a kid, and seemed rather cheap to me to be in a fine dining place. Textually though, the popcorn did work well with the quinoa, sliverbeet, goji berries and pepper. The duck was slightly pink and was well cooked. Wasn't perfect, but wasn't bad. I'm not sure if the flavours of everything went well together, I felt as though it was too peppery and the popcorn became soggy with the juices on the dish. And the pepper and the popcorn seemed to overpower everything. It was interesting and something very different to every fine dining duck dish I've ever had. So bravo for that.
CN had the Beef fillet, mushroom, smoked potato, creme fraiche and potato fondant. The steak was a good cut and cooked to the way CN liked it. There was lots of flavours and well presented, but it was like any steak dish so we weren't blown away by it.
EN had the pork with scallops and crackling. The pork was succulent and moist with flavour and the scallops were cooked to perfection. The crackling, seemed very store bought crackling (Nobby's pork crackling), disappointing in that respects. But the creamy sauce went well with the dish.
We were all a little disappointed with the mains and maybe because we have high hopes and have a high bar for renowned Perth fine dining places. This may stem from the fact that we've eaten at Quay, Press Club, Vue De Mode, Aria, Gingerboy etc.
However, there was still hope for Balthazar as their desserts sounded lovely. All the choices but alas we settled for three to share.
Firstly, there was the Chocolate fondant, chocolate soil, vanilla apples. It was rich, beautiful moist chocolate cake and cut into it and chocolaty oozes out. It was warm and a must for chocolate fans.
Secondly, there was the Date pudding, caramel popcorn ice cream. This time the caramel popcorn fitted like a glove with the sticky date pudding. The sticky date itself wasn't too sweet either. It was the perfect winter dessert.
And last but not least, but something that caught our interest, was the Strawberries, Truffle honey cream, Black Garlic and liquorice ice cream. A little bit of savoury and sweet all in a dessert. Curiosity for something different made us order this. The black garlic was subtle and could not be tasted but it had a nice texture and was extra creamy. The liquorice flavour was not too overpowering and was also rather subtle. I'm not sure if I'm a fan of the liquorice ice cream, but it wasn't bad, I might just be biased because I've never been a fan of liquorice. The truffle honey cream was rubbery in texture, too much gelatin. It was also bland. Bit disappointing because it should have been the element to balance the whole dish and make it more dessert like. The strawberries had been preserved in syrup which seeped out with each bite. Overall, this dish was not fantastic, but I love how it's different and how it could have been amazing if some elements of the dish were perfected.
Balthazar has been around for ages, and I know why, it's because it takes a risk with it's food and most of the time it works. The elements and textures work, although it lacks some flavours because I feel as though it tries to incorporate too much. Having said that I wouldn't mind going back because it's different from the other find dining places around Perth, which is rather refreshing, because they all seem to be doing the same at present. I just wish they prefect some aspects of their dishes I've tried and perhaps most importantly improve their service. The service throughout the night was rather lacklustre. And when there is competition, service and food is everything.