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No 4 Blake Street - 14 Aug 2013

Cuisine: Modern European
Location: North Perth

Disclosure: Invitation for myself and a guest was complimentary on behalf of the restaurant, while I paid for the third person ($150) in my dining party.

It was just after midnight and I was typing up my days travels in NY when I received an invitation from Tom Randolph to visit his restaurant, No 4 Blake Street. I remember seeing this was a newish restaurant before I had set off overseas so I was interested to see more about this restaurant, except there was no way I was going to be able to accept his invitation given I was in NY and the dinner was the same day in Perth. Fortunately Tom sent another invitation a few weeks after I had got back to Perth and I was over my jetlag, so I was more than happy to attend the once a month event, Rockford Dinner.

I had a look at the restaurant website and liked what I saw on the dinner menu. After reading a few reviews I was certainly salivating and was more than keen to accept the invitation. Tom Randolph also run’s another restaurant I’ve visited, Tom’s Kitchen, situated in Shafto Lane in the Perth CBD. The Rockford Dinner is a special event held each month and offers a seven course degustation with matching wines from Rockford Wines located in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. Unfortunately I’m not a drinker so I’ll concentrate on the food, but Dad is and I invited my parents to join me for their first degustation.

There’s plenty of parking and fortunately the weather was pleasant and the rain held off. The restaurant venue appears to be a house that has been converted and they’ve done a great job with the space. The front is warm and welcoming and we were warmly welcomed by the front of staff led by Majdouline and Romain, the sommelier. The restaurant serves breakfast/brunch during the day, high tea in the afternoon, and then transforms itself from the rustic appeal to a smart interior ready for the degustation for dinner service. Soft music plays in the background while the attentive and unobtrusive waitstaff effectively see to each patron’s needs. The service was friendly and professional throughout the course of our evening.

The degustation commenced at 7pm and were we in for a long night of eating and drinking! Let’s get into it:

To kick the evening off we were offered a choice of breads – white bread roll or olive slice. I chose the olive slice and a dish with two serves each of three different butter varieties sat upon our table:

  • Orange – needed an extra blob to get the lovely orange flavour, like the lemon variety, the flavour just hangs in the background
  • Salt and vinegar – couldn’t taste this too much despite having a fair amount, maybe a bit too subtle for my tastebuds though Mum said this was delicious
  • Lemon and thyme – flavour of light lemon comes through nicely but doesn’t seem out of place. This was my favourite variety. The lemon & thyme flavour is apparent, but the acidity is absent.
No 4 Blake Street - Butter Varieties

Butter Varieties – Orange, Salt & Vinegar, Lemon & Thyme

I loved the olive bread and was interested to see that the butter looked and tasted just like soft creamy butter, yet the flavours added to it didn’t overpower the usual butter flavour but was distinctive in it’s own right. Quite interesting to eat flavoured butters which is something I’ve experienced on rare occasions.

 

Course #1: Amuse Bouche – Ocean Trout Sashimi, Foam, Sesame and Quinoa Taco

No 4 Blake Street - Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche – Ocean Trout Sashimi, Foam, Sesame and Quinoa Taco

The first course of our degustation began with a surprise Amuse Bouche, or appetizer in French, which was ocean trout sashimi, foam, served on a sesame and quinoa taco. One thing I hate about fine dining is the mouthful of a description they give to each dish. Good luck trying to remember it all. Not great for a blogger trying to take notes! Anyway, I liked the crunch of the taco against the fresh soft ocean trout, the flavour of the sea apparent and the soft foam being the glue holding the components together. I don’t think I’ve had too many sashimi dishes that are served from a non-Asian restaurant. The usual soy sauce adds that salty kick and somehow “cooks” the seafood adding flavour and bringing out the unique flavour of the specific seafood in question. So, a sashimi done non-Asian style is going to have to deliver something different in the absence of the soy sauce. I think with this dish the flavours are a little too subtle, maybe to not take away from the ocean trout, but I would have liked a little more intensity. However, I guess the first dish is meant to deliver something of a low intensity with the flavours building up throughout the night. You don’t want to be smacked in the face by something a little too intense to start off with.

 

Course #2: King Crab, Tomato Concasse, Marigold Blossom, Horseradish Milkshake

No 4 Blake Street - King Crab #1
No 4 Blake Street - King Crab #2

The second dish delivered theatre, presented with a very large dish balancing the slender glass holding dry ice with the bowl holding the crab. The waitstaff proceeded to pour the horseradish milkshake into the glass which reacted with the dry ice and a myst swept over the dish. Then it just started producing large every growing bubbles such that the milkshake effectively erupted down the side of the glass and into the bowl. After it had calmed down, I poured the milkshake into the bowl. The crab is quite strong at first, very intense like the sensation of raw seafood but it softens with the tomato which seems to fizz ever so slightly. The ever so slight horseradish combines with the slight richness of the shake to create a lovely soft milky flavour with the crab. I would have preferred slightly stronger flavours so the cleverness of the combination of ingredients would reveal itself more openly. Nevertheless the soft handed approach ensures the dish isn’t too confronting for some palettes, especially when playing with horseradish.

 

Course #3: Smoked Rabbit Presse, Poached Loin, Silken Pea Soup, Pea Textures

20130814_No4BlakeSt_SmokedRabbit

Smoked Rabbit Presse, Poached Loin, Silken Pea Soup, Pea Textures

The rabbit had been smoked and the smoked contents minus the rabbit were brought to our table with a covered black cloth. Pressing down on the black cloth immediately releases the smoked aroma which gets your tastebuds salivating. The rabbit wrapped in bacon has a strong salty intensity but the slightly thickish smooth pea soup helps to counteract the saltiness. The pea textures which offered crunch, coriander, and a crisp pea wafer added a slight sweetness to tie the salty bacon and rich pea components together. The wafer and crumb also provide a textual contrast to the smooth pea soup. Interestingly the rabbit at first tastes like pork. Maybe the presentation as a sausage tricks the mind into thinking you’re eating a sausage but the rich meaty rabbit flavour comes through. The rabbit is tender and well cooked and very tasty. I really loved this dish.

 

Course #4: Al Dente Pasta – Pork Braise With Homemade Gnocchi

No 4 Blake Street - Pasta

Al Dente Pasta – Pork Braise With Homemade Gnocchi

This was another of the surprise dishes – you knew it was going to be some kind of pasta or something of an Italian flavour, but it’s more of a surprise to receive a dish you have no idea about and then the waitstaff reveal the identity. I really loved this dish! The just resistant soft parcels of ultra smooth potato gnocchi just melted in your mouth. The pork braise was fantastic with the lovely meaty juices along with the herbs producing a warm hearty flavoursome dish. I could easily have a plate of this as a main. Fantastic! This is my favourite dish of the night though there were other dishes to follow that challenged it.

 

Course #5: Duck Pave, Smoked Breast, Crispy Brussel Sprouts, Sprout Kraut, Citrus Crumb, Chestnut Veloute

No 4 Blake Street - Smoked Duck

Duck Pave, Smoked Breast, Crispy Brussel Sprouts, Sprout Kraut, Citrus Crumb, Chestnut Veloute

I’ve not eaten Brussel sprouts too many times but they were cooked as per the menu: crunchy. The leaves came away allowing them to hold the delicious chestnut veloute which had body, a smooth texture, and was very flavoursome. There was also a chestnut half that had softened but still held a muted crunch. A thin tube of paste, probably duck liver, was created in such a way to disguise the richness of the liver. I really loved the duck pave. Perfectly seasoned, crunchy skin on top, moist flesh below. It maybe was slightly overdone as the flesh was a little firm but it was so delicious. Finally used the spoon to polish off the delicious chestnut veloute. What a delicious meal.

 

Course #6: Fancy Lamb Bits, Buttered Fennel, Olive Tuile, Olive Oil Foam

No 4 Blake Street - Lamb #1No 4 Blake Street - Lamb #2

Two Lamb breasts on the bottom, buttered fennel, then lamb loin which is the roll on top, olive oil foam to the sides, sweetbread propping up the olive oil tuile, and fennel fronds on top of the dish. When I saw fancy lamb bits I was thinking some kind of lamb crumb or small bits of lamb created in some extraordinary manner. Instead, the lamb bits are probably a reference to the sweetbread. Now this isn’t bread if that’s what you’re thinking but generally glands or pancreas formed into a little bread, crumbed and fried. I had some of these at an Argentinian restaurant in London and with a squeeze of lemon, was fantastic. I started with the loin which was perfectly cooked, succulent and so delicious. This was the best component of the dish. The fennel is certainly buttery, leaving a butter aftertaste in your palette after you’ve eaten the fennel. The olive oil foam is a little strong with the tender breast but I thought the tuile was the perfect accompaniment as it tasted like salty black olives with lamb which paired much more effectively in flavour than the rich olive oil flavour. I liked the lamb sweetbread too that adds a different kind of flavour to the loin and lamb breast. This dish is very meaty and I thought the dish lacked one more element like vegetable to balance out the strong meat flavours but apart from that I loved this dish.

 

Palate Cleanser: Mango Sorbet, Coconut Gel,  Pickled Pineapple

No 4 Blake Street - Palete Cleanser

Palate Cleanser: Mango Sorbet, Coconut Gel, Pickled Pineapple

OMG! How about this for a palette cleanser? Really loved the smooth mango packed flavour of the sorbet but then your focus is diverted to the soft creamy coconut gel and then you’re grabbed by the small chunks of pickled pineapple to end your journey of the tropics. Such delicious flavours and textures. My plate was left clean. My palette cleansed. Now this could easily be served on any dessert menu.

 

Course #7: Compressed Pear, Pedro, Pistachio Sponge, Wild Figs, Bay Leaf & White Chocolate Sorbet

No 4 Blake Street - Dessert

Compressed Pear, Pedro, Pistachio Sponge, Wild Figs, Bay Leaf & White Chocolate Sorbet

Well the night ended with an absolutely ripping dessert. The presentation was second to none not that the other dishes were lacking in any way. It just looked beautiful on the plate. The pistachio sponge was light and full of pistachio flavour with just the right intensity. I may not drink but I didn’t miss out as the Pedro mousse packed a punch – I can feel the alcohol going to my head! A very strong flavour but a faultless mousse. This sat upon toasted oats which were yum. They also presented a textual contrast to the prior components. Next door was a candied mini fig half – slightly chewy, continuing with a change in texture, and a bit of sweetness to shake things up. A small blob of sweet pear puree helped add flavour to the pistachio sponge. The compressed pear was solid but easily edible. It forms another textual contrast to the other components. Next door sat the ultra smooth and refreshing sorbet, the bay leaf flavour oozing out but the white chocolate flavour surprisingly absent. The balance was perfect. The sorbet formed the centre of the dish and mirrored the components just described. That meant another hit of Pedro. Oh boy. I would have loved some more sorbet and less Pedro but what a really splendid dish that wowed on all fronts. Superb.

 

No 4 Blake Street Food Review Summary

Verdict: No 4 Blake Street is only 8 months into it’s life, following on from Tom Randolph’s other restaurant, Tom’s Kitchen. No 4 Blake Street serves breakfast/brunch, high tea in the afternoon, and then transforms into a smart modern setting for the dinner service of a multi course degustation with a choice of options. However, they also hold a once a month event, the Rockford Dinner, which I attended today and comprised of a 7 course degustation with matching wines from Rockford Wines. The degustation commenced at 7pm and finished shortly after midnight, a long night of eating and drinking. The first few courses are a little low in intensity of flavour but then the kitchen proceeds to blow you away with some finely crafted creations full of flavour. I really loved the third course of smoked rabbit and pea combination, but then was quickly impressed by the fourth course of pork braise with homemade gnocchi, easily my favourite of the night. This was so delicious and could easily feature as a main on the menu. The fifth course served up delicious smoked duck with a bodied chestnut veloute which was polished off, and then the sixth course presented lamb in three forms: a fabulous tender loin, tasty breast, and sweetbread. I absolutely loved the palette cleanser of the mango sorbet, coconut gel and pickled pineapple which would look fantastic on any dessert menu. But then we were wowed by the seventh and last course of the night, a beautifully presented and crafted array of flavours and textures for our dessert. The Pedro mousse had some alcoholic kick but the soft light pistachio sponge, candied figs, pear, and that delicious refreshing bay leaf and white chocolate sorbet just left you feeling totally satisfied. I really enjoyed my experience at No 4 Blake Street, the setting, ambience, and the professional and attentive service making it memorable. I think the only criticism I would have is the wait time between the courses was a little too long, making the night a 5 hour event, however, given the care, detail, and attention placed into every dish and serving 7 courses to a packed out restaurant, the kitchen certainly has it’s work cut out.
Price: Expensive
Taste: Delicious
Value: Excellent
Recommendation: Highly Recommend

No 4 Blake Street Restaurant Details

http://www.no4blakestreet.com.au/
No 4 Blake Street on Urbanspoon

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No 4 Blake Street - 14 Aug 2013, reviewed by Shaun on 2013-08-14T21:22:22+00:00 rating 4.6 out of 5
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Restaurant Rating System

It's subjective but I base my reviews on 4 key areas:

Price: Bargain > Reasonable > Moderately Expensive > Expensive
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The final recommendation will consider the price, taste and value. Value will be based on price and other factors like service and serving size.