Cuisine: American, (Whisky) wine bar, pub food
Location: Perth CBD, King St (basement level)
I have a more recent food review of Varnish On King here.
I’ve been in the mood for American fare of late and have been meaning to pay a visit to Varnish on King, so I decided to pop there for lunch. Varnish is located on King St but may initially seem hard to find as it’s not visible from the street. Just walkthrough the two wooden doors, turn right and wait for the glass sliding door to automatically open, and then descend down the stairs to the basement. You will be greeted to a transformed area full of dark wood, bottles lining the walls, numerous wooden tables all neatly laid out, and comfy booths to sit in. Then there’s the bar lined with alcohol. They specialise in whiskey, particularly the American kind.
But I was here for the food and was pretty hungry. I ordered the pressed pig cheek but the waitress suggested I may want to order something else because the servings are not large, but it depends on how hungry you are. I was hungry so I had a look at the finger food section and chose the lobster dog.
Lobster Dog ($8)
It took a bit of time (the wait always seems longer when you’re hungry) but I was presented with the lobster dog. It appeared quite small but after one bite of the crispy bun you notice the richness of the lobster, creamy mayo, with finely sliced fennel. The lobster has been produced just like a sausage with a thin casing and a paste like consistency, but this is a nice starter to whet the appetite.
Before they brought out the lobster dog, a selection of flavoured salts was presented (from right to left):
- Citrus salt
- Mixed pepper
The salts were to be enjoyed with the main meal.
Pressed Pig Cheek with Stuffed Mushroom, Samphire & White Onion Puree ($23)
The pressed pig cheek looked like pulled pork which was very tender but lacking seasoning and that’s where the salt comes in. Each salt variety gives a different flavour but it somehow manages to evoke memories of pork crackling – that’s certainly the flavour in my mouth as I was eating it. It was very tasty, I liked the crumb and interesting presentation of crumbed cubes encasing the tender strands of pig cheek. The cubes aren’t oily and certainly not intense in comparison to bacon. On the top of the cubes were samphire, a native Australian saltbush plant which has a nice crunch. One could consider it as an asparagus of the sea. It has the firm crunch but a slight salty flavour to it. It’s really yum. There was also a battered stuffed mushroom which was delicious. I really enjoyed the batter and the moistness of the filling, which seemed like goats curd. The capers add a nice acidic kick and the smooth onion puree adds another dimension to the meal.
It doesn’t look like much on the plate but it is a filling meal. I really enjoyed my lunch but it was back to the office. No time for dessert (OK I was pretty full).
Whilst I paid my bill at the table, the waitstaff told me that lunch is very different to dinner. They do a chef’s hook up (minimum 2 people) at $50pp with 5 courses and cheese. Sounds interesting as the meal I ate today had imagination, quality, and flavour.
Varnish on King Food Review Summary
Verdict: Yes, I’m at an American whiskey bar but I’m here for the food, not the drink. There’s an interesting array of dishes so different to the typical menus in Perth so it’s refreshing to see something of an American flare. I went with the lobster dog which was rich but delicious and the pressed pig cheek was something special. The crumbed cubes encased tender strands of pork that lacked seasoning, but the flavoured salts and samphire step in to complement the meal. I also enjoyed the batter coated stuffed mushroom. Varnish on King offers some imaginative food, quality, and flavour, in lovely surrounds evoking memories of the old style bars in some American movie.
Recommendation: Highly Recommend
Varnish on King Restaurant Details
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