Bianca: In the initial planning stages of our Western Australia adventure, we made a mental note for a splurge restaurant when we hit Perth. Our options were really only down to two places and with one of them having those not so friendly WA trading hours, it was a fairly easy decision.
Our meal at the ‘Print Hall’ turned out to be, not only a stand-out during our trip but for myself, one of the best dining experiences I have had in my life. Separated into four different sections – a baker & coffeemaker/ Bar & Dining room, The Apple Daily Bar & Eating House (with a focus on South-east Asian street food and lastly our first stop of the evening Bob’s Bar’
The ‘Print Halls’ rooftop terrace ‘Bob’s Bar’, is a laid back bar serving dranks and Creole style food – of which we had to restrain ourselves. We were in for a sophisticated meal!
The ‘Bob-zie’ $34 (serves 2)– with 5 different types of rum, served ‘tiki’ style certainly packed a wallop and somehow I found myself drinking 70%, making me very merry for the meal that was about to follow. So, a little light-headed and with the rosy hues of someone who clearly can’t handle her alcohol, we descended into Print Hall’s dining room.
We had several menu routes on offer, a degustation with over 9 courses and $150 or 4 courses at $110 p.p. Our main reasoning behind our decision was that quite simply the four course option had more items that sounded appealing to our palates.
First and foremost, the staff were delightful. They were attentive, friendly yet unobtrusive and were more than happy to answer our questions about the food. And after our meal when we were the only patrons left – they spent more than 30 minutes talking to us about Perth and the restaurant industry. As far as service goes this was the best experience I have had in a fine dining restaurant.
Lighting was a bit of a challenge so please excuse the photos.
We began our meal with two amuse bouche – the first of which were two ‘Goats cheese rocks’ – a white chocolate and miso shell encased a light blue cheese mixture that was incredibly smooth and creamy with ‘soil’ crumbs. My favourite of the two and one that really set the tone for the quality of the food.
The second was a ‘Pear’ prepared in a Japanese style, air-dried to create a firm bite with a subtle interplay of sweet and sour notes and a slight kick with the spices.
Our hardest decision that evening was choosing our four desired dishes for each course. But that is the beauty of dining with a pal that loves her food as much as I do – shared dishes!
Kicking the evening back into overdrive, the house baked bread, whilst served cold was delicious. I eat butter like I fear there will be a shortage announced. Spread thick with a sprinkle of sea-salt. The butter was soft, light and airy, almost as if it had been whipped.
Course 1 – Joyce went for the aptly named ‘A Rose Amongst the Thorns’ – Burrata, beetroot and tamarillo. This was my first initial choice but I was put off by the beetroot. Which I did end up finding overwhelming, I thought it may have had somewhat of a supporting role as it was featured second in the menu billing. The earthiness of the beetroot complimented the creamy aspects of the burrata and the tartness of the pickled radish. The quality of the burrata was unquestionable the pickled radish was my personal favourite element. Certainly a dish that celebrates the beetroot.
The ‘Blue Manna Crab’ – spring pea, candle nut, green wheat. Harkened a light risotto. The crab sourced from the Swan River, was delicately sweet with a touch of acidity coming through from the vinaigrette. As someone who tolerates seafood it was a pleasant dish that didn’t come off as ‘too fishy’. The freekeh still retained a bit of bite and along with the candle nut provided some texture and nuttiness.
Course 2 – The ‘Local Duck Egg Custard’ – Hazelnut, chrysanthemum and cheddar was Joyce’s pick for the second course and one that played on a crème brulee. A very clever dish that plays on your sight and senses. The intense savoury hit was most surprising of all, especially because you’re fooled into thinking it will be sweet. The mushrooms were innately woody with a strong umami sensibility. The Mushroom tuille, replicating the burnt sugar on a brulee was a masterful touch
Intrigued by the name, I went with the ‘Stinging Nettle and Potato – Fermented beancurd, almond, fat hen. Honestly if it weren’t for the staff I would have had no idea what I was ordering. Basically a faux risotto, made out of very finely cubed potato to imitate rice. The bite was almost that of a raw potato but it was pleasant. There were a few large pieces of the fat hen adorning the dish but I’m going to assume it was pulsed and then cooked through with the potato to give the startling vibrant green colour. The goat’s cheese was mild in flavour and added some saltiness and the toasted almonds provided some crunch.
Course 3 – Now moving onto the ‘meatier’ portion of our meal, the last of the savoury and the heaviest dishes of the evening. Joyce couldn’t look past the ‘Wood Grilled Beef Sirloin’ – black garlic, lupin & oyster mushroom. A generous portion, so one to appease the fine dining negators that complain about portion sizes. The beef was tender and cooked expertly. There was a predominate mushroom flavouring that perfumed the whole dish. Neither Joyce nor I are fans of offal but the crumbed and lightly fried sweetbreads were a welcome addition and tied nicely with the earthy and sweet flavourings of the black garlic vinaigrette.
Duck is a rare treat for me so I just had to go with the ‘Duck from Wagin’ – cavolo nero, leek & yoghurt. Cooked beautifully and exceptionally tender as duck can sometimes be laborious to chew, not the case here. I did find some disparity between the two duck pieces but it was rather slight, with the second piece having crispy skin whilst being non-existent on the first. The liver was too much for Joyce and I and it was one aspect I could have done without. The chicken jus was a glorious addition to add some moisture and salt and the tart acidic yoghurt was perfect to balance all the ingredients. Perhaps this is crazy but my favourite element on the plate was the charred leak, first time for everything!
If there was to be a Miss Universe for the carbohydrate world it’d be a close tie between potatoes and bread, so when we heard the words ‘Thrice Cooked Potatoes’ it was an easy decision. Unfortunately these fell a little flat, exceptionally tasty, seasoned well and lacking the oiliness one might expect. BUT they were not crispy in the slightest. There was also a side salad of iceberg lettuce, vinaigrette and mixed seeds.
And now the sweets, some may say the highlight of any meal, I know my mum surely would. We were brought out a palate cleanser consisting of an ‘Apple and Carrot Jelly with Calamansi’. I’m not familiar with Calamondin or Calamansi as it’s also known but it is a citrus hybrid with tart notes that provide a sweet and sour interplay. It certainly had us salivating for dessert, despite being full to the brim.
Course 4 – I had the first choice for dessert so Joycie went with the second option of ‘Blueberries and Buttermilk’ – white chocolate, green apple. Truth be told, I think she lucked out here. The buttermilk was subtle and not sour as I was expecting. It was truly a celebration of all things blueberries. With a blueberry tuille, blueberry jelly and dried blueberries delivering an intense ‘pure’ blueberry flavour. The white chocolate pebbles were my favourite element on the plate, soliciting an almost caramelised butterscotch flavour.
I was all about the ‘Black Forest Cake’ – Sour cherry, hazelnut and tonka bean. One world, simply dazzling. There were so many differing flavours, textures and temperatures within this dessert. The ice-cream was encased within a chocolate shell. The mousse was light and airy with a slight ‘herby’ taste. With pops of sour cherry and little bursts of the tonka bean. I was taken by the cherry leaf which was freeze-dried and covered in sugar.
In a food haze and having been eating for a good 3 hours, our meal ended with some Petit Fours. A coffee/chocolate cigarillo, grapefruit and sea salt and a meal ‘palate cleanser’ of a yuzu jelly. Honestly the meal just got better and better as it went on.
Emphatically the Print Hall is one that needs to be bumped to the top of any WA eating lists.
Everything from the food to the staff made this truly a memorable meal.