Hampden road has numerous cafes, deli, boutiques and quick, yummy, Japanese and Chinese take-aways catering for the university students, office workers and of course the health professionals at the two nearby hospitals. Amongst all the quick food fixes, cafes, healthy options, deli and boutique stores sits a fine dining restaurant relocated all the way from Albany – Wild Duck.
The restaurant opened in south west Albany and have won many awards including RCAA restaurant of the year, A Star in Gourmet Traveller and was part of the Good Food Guide 2011. The restaurant relocated to Perth, Nedlands in 2012 and was recommended warmly by fellow blogger Sandra of Perth Food Engineers, so I was very much wanting to try it.
I finally found a time early this month, and headed there with a few friends, who were very much foodies. We were given a seat by the window in the corner, which gave us the perfect view of the restaurant. The decor is rather somber dark, traditional with wooden everywhere and everything. It was spacious and yet had warmth through it.
Interiors of Wild Duck – we were so early for dinner so there was no one else there except us, but not long after the place started to fill.
We were there on a Friday night, which allowed us a choice of A la carte or degustation. I was adamant before we got there that I would don’t want the degustation menu, simply because I don’t have the funds for it. However, upon seeing the degustation menu and the a la carte menu and the prices of both, I was swayed into having the degustation. Six course meal at $105 (and $155 with matching wines – which we didn’t get because we were all driving/had work the next day) was comparable to other places in Perth and was more than reasonable, especially if I were to have a 3 course meal, it would be close to $105 anyway, so might as well go for the taste tester and see why this restaurant has won so many awards in the past.
We started off the evening with amuse bouche of chicken parfait with carmelised onion, came out in friendly bite sized form on Chinese spoon soup. The chicken parfait was silky, smooth and had that slight creamy texture, and for the first time ever, I felt as though it needed a sprinkle of salt for flavour. Although the carmelised onion that give it that sweet kick, there wasn’t enough of it to off-set what was a slightly bland chicken parfait.
Amuse Bouche – Chicken Parfait
The first real course of the evening, was a lovely flavoursome espresso cup full of smoked seafood chowder shot with scallop and king prawn. The scallop and king prawn was perfectly cooked and the flavours of the chowder was delicious, creamy, seafood goodness. I love how it came out in a glass bowl and when opened let out this wonderful smokey seafood smells. Pity I didn’t manage the capture it on photo – I was too busy going Ooooo and aaahhh.. It leaves you wanting more.
Smoked seafood chowder shot with scallop and king prawn
The next dish was the beautiful mushroom ravioli – wild mushrooms, goats cheese, asparagus foam, truffled mushroom sauce and micro herbs. The ravioli was pasta perfection and the flavours of the goat cheese with the earthy flavours of mushroom works so well. The asparagus form was so light and delicious, I was attempting to scope every last bit off the plate. Lovely pasta dish.
Mushroom ravioli with goat cheese, truffled mushroom sauce, asparagus foam and micro herbs
The next dish of the evening was fish – I’m really not sure what fish – I can’t remember (?trout or barrumandi – I don’t believe we were told) with fennel puree, caramalised leek, snow peas and seared scallop. The fennel puree and caramlised leek was delicious and the fish was cooked to perfection, moist and soft still, as was the scallop. However, I wasn’t wowed by it.
Fish of the day*(I’m not sure if we were told because I can’t remember and it was noted down on my inote!) with fennel puree, leek, snow peas and scallop
Then there was a bit of wait, in fact a long wait before the next course came out. It was some what nice because it gave us a chance to talk and catch up, however, the boys were a little hungry half way through it. We were all waiting for the 16 hour slow cooked pork belly, but I’m pretty sure what came out was the beef cheek. I queried the waitstaff to ask what I was eating and she wasn’t sure and asked if I wanted to see the menu. Hmm.. wasn’t impressed with that.
Beef duo – braised cheek and sous vide fillet with persian feta mash, baby veg and red wine jus
The degustation menu we profuse over at the start of the evenings stated we were getting 16 hour slow cooked pork belly, but what came out was the beef duo. The fillet was lovely, the cheek could have been more tender, it just didn’t melt in your mouth and there was lack of red wine jus making the dish slightly flat.
After the beef dish was the palate cleanser – passionfruit sorbet. It was refreshing and tangy, readying us for the dessert.
Passionfruit Sorbet palate cleanser
Orange and chocolate – the classic combination, so it should be great right? But the white chocolate ice cream came out melting all over my plate (clearly either been out too long or the freezer isn’t working well or it just hasn’t set properly at all), the chocolate delice was rich dark chocolate which was beautiful and decadent, it went perfectly with the orange jelly and the orange sherbet gave it that nice tangy kick to try to balance out the richness and sweetness. However, it was a little bit of a let down and nothing spectacular at all.
Chocolate and orange – chocolate delice, orange jelly, orange air, white chocolate ice cream and orange sherbet
Looking back at the photos, and reflecting on the restaurant I feel as though we were missing a course. I believe we are missing the duck course and to state on the menu that they were serving us pork belly and clearly we did not get that – with no explanation seems rather unacceptable. At any restaurant, we should be told, especially so at a fine dining one, when certain ingredients on the menu have not available and what is being substituted
What got me even more was that there was absolutely NO explanation of the menu, or of the dishes that were served to us. Nor was the degustation menu (a small version) left on our table – the menus were taken away – which was fair enough – but to have no explanation of what or reminder of what we were eating, and in fact there just a smart arse reply of “Do you want the menu for referral” – I really should have said yes, because then I would have realized that we were not given one of the courses. The service really wasn’t warm or welcoming.
It’s such a pity because it has so much potential. Each dish was lovely, traditionally cooked, lots of foam and micro herbs used. As one of the boys said “we were eating air all night..” – so much foam, which I personally have no problems over, but I can see where they are coming from. “nothing was wow.. it was a little boring” – it really was – nothing wow, nothing spectacular – except perhaps the seafood chowder and the rivaoli – after that it was all a bit of a blur and nothing too much to drool about. I’m sure in the past the food would have been amazing, but currently, with so many restaurant options in Perth and palates appreciating the finer things, Wild Duck needs to do something spectacularly with their traditional methods of cooking (don’t get me wrong – traditional methods are sometimes the best!).
Will I go back? Perhaps, if their service skills improve – they really need to make us feel like we are welcomed and to at least explain to us what we are served if we are to have the degustation. That is part of the whole degustation dining experience, it is in fact part of the fine dining experience.