Cuisine: Modern European
Location: East Perth, old Fairlanes site
I received an email from my blog at PerthFoodReviews from Max @ Chefz Table inviting me to try this new restaurant out. When I do catch the bus, I pass by the old Fairlanes Bowling site which has now been developed into a multi storey apartment complex, amphitheatre, and a few visible eateries like The Burger Bistro. Yet, I have never noticed Chefz Table which is tucked along the side and has some views of the Swan River. The restaurant has been open for 3 months and having a look at the website and their concept, I was intrigued. Chefz Table offer an al a carte menu but their focus is on providing a degustation (called the “Chefz Table”) which is designed to your tastes and takes into your account your likes and dislikes. It sounds a bit confusing as there is no set listing of dishes but it allows the chefs’ creativity and variety to show. Not knowing what you’re going to get is a bit daunting but I think the concept is interesting and allows some freedom for diners. After looking at the menu which offers something a little bit different from the typical dishes, I was a little taken aback by the pricing – $24 for entrees, $46 for mains. The degustation on the other hand starts at $110 for 4 courses and can be designed for more courses and accordingly, the price rises. Fortunately we chose the chefz table and decided on a 4 course degustation. I’ll eat just about anything so dislikes were few and far between. My friend and I decided on 2 entrees, one fish, one beef, with a pork main, and a dessert.
Walking in, the restaurant has a smart, neat, modern setting which is cosy and relaxing and there is an outdoor area just before you enter and also an outdoor area on the deck at the rear of the restaurant with sufficient views of the Swan River. Max, who emailed me, was one of the waitstaff who saw to us during the course of the night and service from the restaurant was excellent. Not knowing what was to be served was part of the surprise, but it was a pleasant one.
The service commenced with some freshly warmed soft bread rolls which were very delicious. During the night, the offer of more bread rolls with butter was made available. However, the degustation kicked off with a pre starter of crumbed ox tail upon a mushroom mix. The dish is deceptive and actually has more depth than what meets the eye. The ox tail is perfectly crumbed and soft and mushy on the inside. The flesh is very tender and rich. At first glance one would think how small a piece of ox tail, till you take one bite and experience the richness. The accompanying elements below the ox tail present a contrast to the richness with flavours akin to a tartare sauce, that little bit of creaminess and tartness. A delicious start to the meal.
Next up was our first entree, extremely finely cubed potato, spiced, to give a cous cous like feel, served with picked beetroot, a crunchy crumb, and then the beef. The beef was soft, tender, but rather stringy. I wouldn’t say it was tough, it just needed more cooking. Like cutting raw meat, it has resistance, yet when well cooked, the knife cuts through with ease. The beef was cooked, but it needed more. I found this dish rather confusing as the meat reminded me of corned beef. It had a slightly sour flavour like it had been pickled. The spiced cous cous like potato mixture presented more flavour. The spice is light but enough to add that flavour hit without being too intense. The potato is cubed very finely but bigger than cous cous grains. Deceptive, but great flavours. The pickled beetroot was well cooked, still keeping a firmness without being raw or too softened. The crumb presented an excellent contrast in texture. A bit more work on the meat and I think the dish could be a winner.
Our second entree was cod with crispy skin, a fish crackling, fennel emulsion, corn puree, toffeed pop corn, and a whole lot more. Wow, this dish was fantastic and presented a range of complementary flavours and textures. The crispy skin is firm and crispy, contrasting to the well cooked tender cod portion. There’s a strong corn influence in the dish but the humble corn kernel is elevated to star status by the creativity of the chefs. The corn puree is smooth and so tasty. It’s flavour goes so well with the fish and other elements. The whole corn kernels provide a different texture with more of a juicy crunch in contrast to the smoothness of the puree. Then there’s the movie favourite popcorn, which is finding it’s way on to the dinner plate. The sticky toffee popcorn adds a sweetness and more intense corn flavour enmeshed with the other elements and the fish to take your tastebuds to a whole new level. Excellent!
A break in between courses and a palette cleanser was served – watermelon, mint, and cinnamon sorbet. Wow! So refreshing. On the first bite you just taste the gentle flavours of the mint with a hint of cinnamon weighing in and as you’re just about to swallow, the freshness of the watermelon makes it’s grand entrance and refreshes your palette. Delightful.
The courses just kept rolling out of the kitchen at a gentle pace and next in the production line was our pork mains. The main meal consisted of pork loin, apricot, dehydrated olive, spices, parsnip puree, a salad infused with pork head, yes, pork head. This dish was another standout. The pork loin was so tender, very well cooked, tasty and quite chunky. At first, the pork loin portions might seem small but there’s plenty of protein. The crunchy greens present an interesting contrast as do the dehydrated olives. Below that, the ratatouille like vegetable mixture is warm, full of flavour, and has a strong meaty flavour. I’m not sure how one utilises the pork head but I guess it provides a gelatiness element to the vegetable mixture and it’s flavour produces a strong meaty element to this mini dish. I really loved it and the sauce and all goes extremely well with the pork which is lacking any kind of sauce. Instead, apricot presents a perfect accompaniment to the pork and the dash of parsnip puree along the right hand side provides a very earthy element to the dish. I really loved this dish but there was more to come so I judged my favourite too soon.
Dessert. Now this was amazing! Pineapple sorbet, coconut panna cotta, mint jelly, caramelised pineapple, fried pineapple, fresh mint, and another jelly like mixture. There’s many different elmenets. One might argue, either serve panna cotta or a sorbet, not both. How wrong could you be? The pineapple sorbet is smooth and refreshing, like eating freshly cut juicy pineapple. After a while, it’s sweetness gets a little intense. This is where the smooth creamy coconut panna cotta wobbles it’s way in. It’s flavours provide a perfect contrast to balance the sweetness of the sorbet. I’m not a fan of panna cotta but I’ve obviously been eating sub par panna cottas’ as this was truly delicious! It won me over. The fried pineapple presented a different take textually, flavour wise, and sweetness wise to the sorbet. Then the caramelised pineapple wedged in the panna cotta presented yet another contrast to the other 2 pineapple elements before it. The mint jelly provided a different flavour but didn’t have a strong minty flavour. It’s very subtle unlike the true mint flavour from the fresh mint which is far more intense and clears the mouth of any residual pineapple flavour. An absolutely fantastic dessert!
Also served with the dessert is a house made rum which I did not have but my friend did. It was a good rum but a little too intense.
Last but not least, the degustation also offered coffee and tea and also a plate of petit fours. A lovely end to the meal.
Chefz Table Food Review Summary
Verdict: While open for breakfast and lunch, I think Chefz Table’s real strength and appeal lies in it’s name, the Chefz Table – degustation. For it’s location in East Perth away from the main CBD, I don’t think it will appeal to executive lunches. The al a carte menu is a bit too pricey for lunch and dinner, but the degustation is where the true potential lies. The variety and freedom afforded to the chefs in allowing them to create what is more than just a 4 course setting (or more courses depending on your preferences and budget) allows the restaurant to deliver a standout experience. I’m not sure if patrons may find the concept of being able to specify your likes and dislikes in designing a menu to your taste daunting or confusing, but they are definitely not limiting themselves to a set menu. I think the freedom and creativity shows in the meals which are well thought out, present numerous flavours and elements without being too confusing but complementary. The beef entree needed a little work but the fish entree, pork mains, and dessert were absolute standouts. A little more refinement and the experience can easily rise a few more notches to a very high standard of dining. Hopefully they can gain more exposure as this is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.
Chefz Table Restaurant Details
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