Divine Miso Soup and Lovely Ambience @ Nine Fine Food, Highgate, W.A.

The last time Lana and I caught up was when we had dinner at Greenhouse a few months ago and we were long overdue for another. When we meet, we always try to have dinner somewhere that neither of us have been. Lana had heard about Nine Fine Food through a work colleague who said that it was her favourite restaurant in Perth. Lana suggested we try it for ourselves so we booked a table for a Thursday evening.

On the night, I arrived a little early. I ventured inside to find our seat and to have a look at the interior. The exterior and interior are quite different – outside, Nine Fine Food is located on the corner of busy Bulwer and Lake Streets and it doesn’t look particularly inviting from the outside. However, I was immediately taken by the decor inside which is natural, calming and minimalistic. As soon as you enter you are greeted with a smallish sized restaurant that has been immaculately designed. Wood furniture and white tablecloths. A little water fountain and a secluded room to the side which is fenced off by hanging beads within the walkway. It’s really quaint and a very pretty space.

Lana arrived soon after and unfortunately she didn’t have time to get the bottle of wine. Nine Find Food is BYO wine only so we weren’t able to have a glass of wine with our dinner. Nine Fine Food offers two set menus, ranging from $53 (3 courses) and $63 (4 courses), which seems like quite good value for money by the time the bill came at the end of the night.

Lana and I decided to share an entrée to start. We ordered the Beef Tataki (light grilled (rare) tenderloin beef fillets with truffle mixed yakumi condiments and a chilli-lemon soy dressing) ($17), plus two bowls of miso soup ($3 each). For our mains, Lana ordered the Duck ‘Violet’ ($34) which came with five spiced braised duck leg, seared scallops, creamy mash potato, quinoa mixed condiments, pumpkin puree with ‘violet’ red wine and mirin sweet sake reduction, whereas I ordered the Oceans ($34), slow cooked salmon, mixed seafood ‘ravioli’ gyoza, seared scallop, grilled chili prawn, light poached tuna with fresh greens, fruits and passion fruit dressing. We also ordered a side of Tempura vegetables ($12) as Lana said she hadn’t tried them before (which was a good enough reason to order some deep fried veggies!)

Our entrée arrived quickly and we were both very excited to try the food. The Beef Tataki was a cold dish (which was a bit surprising as we didn’t realise that when we ordered it) which consisted of delicately cooked meat that had a very gingery taste. Our miso soups were amazing – the flavour was boisterous and we both mentioned that it was definitely the best miso soup we’ve ever had.

The service for the whole night was very efficient. We didn’t have our empty plates for very long, plus our waters were regularly topped up. The food service was quite quick too, and before long our mains were served. I have to say I was a little disappointed when my dish came out. There wasn’t a lot of food on the plate. I realise that for seafood I am paying a bit more but I do think that one scallop and one prawn isn’t reasonable. Plus, I think the wait staff should have told me that I may need to order a side of rice to the dish so I wasn’t left hungry. In saying that, the salmon was beautifully cooked, but I didn’t enjoy the tuna. It didn’t taste very fresh and it wasn’t pleasant. There was only one ravioli on the plate as well, and I am not sure that the singular items should have a mention on the menu description as it is a bit misconceiving.

Thankfully, Lana was kind enough to offer me some of her dish. She was a little disappointed with her meal as well, as she thought the duck wasn’t anything but ordinary. However, her dish was beautifully presented and was a little bit more substantial than my dish.

The tempura vegetables were really nice. There was a large selection of veggies and I quickly ate the majority (with Lana’s permission) but I was still hungry afterwards.

It was quickly decided that we still had room for dessert. Lana ordered the Mattcha Brûlée ($6), which was a light torched green tea custard brûlée. It had the hard top and had a great green tea and custard flavour.

I ordered the Tiramisu ($6). It was very light in texture and was rich in coffee flavour. It definitely made up for my main a little bit. Lana and I were very happy with our desserts.

All in all – I loved the venue but didn’t rate the food. For $55 per person with no alcohol and small portions we both found it disappointing. I also think that we were expecting something a bit “wow” factor from the recommendations and the price of the dishes. If I had known that I would still be left hungry after my main, I would have ordered the three course menu for the same price we paid. The BYO option is handy but I would’ve liked the option to order a single glass of wine. In saying that, there were positives - the desserts were lovely, the tables were spread out which provides a feeling of privacy and the staff were very professional and didn’t come across as interfering. It would also be a great setting for a date as the place is romantic but isn’t too formal and there is definitely a lovely ambience.

In saying that, we still left disappointed and wouldn’t choose to return in the near future.

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