At the end of last year, I wrote a summary of my Top 5 dining experiences, coffees and desserts for 2012. Tom’s Kitchen received two mentions – one for the best dining experience (the risotto was to die for!) and also for best dessert (the sticky date pudding was perfect!). If people ask me for recommendations now, my first question is always, “Have you tried Tom’s Kitchen?”
Late last year I heard that the owner and chef of Tom’s Kitchen was undertaking a new adventure – a new eatery in North Perth called No 4 Blake Street. It’s a multi-dimensional restaurant, focusing on café-style breakfasts and lunches, fine-dining dinners and high tea on the weekends. Naturally, due to my infatuation with Tom’s Kitchen, I was dying to try it. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait too long, as I was invited by No 4 Blake Street to attend a Presse Dinner they were hosting last month.
On the evening, A and I were welcomed into the restaurant by Majdouline, the Maître d’, and Romain, the Sommelier extraordinaire, who not only served our wines but was also looking after our overall dining experience. When we sat down, I spent some time looking over the interior – polished floorboards and felt chairs, booths around the venue and gorgeous light fittings. I also noticed the excellent selection of music over the night – Portishead and Massive Attack made a few appearances (two of my favourite bands), which was an added bonus to my evening. I spent the evening completely comfortable in my surrounds and it made my evening even more perfect than the amazing food and beverages that followed.
We were served Mas Pere Cava (sparkling wine originating from Spain) to start with and offered a choice between still or sparkling water. Once the guests had arrived, Tom Randolph, the owner and chef behind No 4 Blake Street and Tom’s Kitchen, welcomed us to his restaurant. He also gave more of an insight into his passion for fine dining, as his “casual bistro” in the Perth CBD offered something different from his new adventure, which will focus on providing exciting food experiences without breaking the bank.
Majdouline provided each guest with a piece of freshly baked bread that was made onsite and arrived at the table soft and warm. We had a choice between white sourdough or olive bread, and provided with three types of butter – Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Green Onion and Orange. I had more than one piece of the olive bread as it was a very soft, light bread that had a subtle olive flavour to it. I tried all the butters and couldn’t choose a favourite!
Our Amuse Bouche arrived next and we were treated to Summer corn pannacotta, truffled popcorn, pickled shimeji, porcini foam, mushroom glass. There were different textures on the plate – soft pannacotta that was bursting with corn flavour, the crunchy and salty popcorn that went perfectly with the sweet corn flavour plus the pickled shimeji mushrooms. It was an excellent amuse bouche that definitely did its job – it made my tastebuds very happy!
Romain appeared offering a glass of the 2002 Rockford “Local Growers” Semillon from the Barossa Valley. It was a really smooth white wine that had subtle floral aromas. It went especially well with the next dish.
It’s not often that I am completely blown away by a dish – but the Goat’s Cheese ‘Gnocchi’, aromatic oils, baby herbs, borage blossom, tomato water dish did just that. The aromatic oil and tomato water that it was served with was amazing – strong bursts of orange, tomato flavours with a strong blossom smell that made my brain do a double take. I’ve never had an aromatic sauce that really did taste as if I was sipping edible aromatic oils. The goat’s cheese gnocchi was made without flour and went really well with the aromatic oil flavour. Overall, this was the standout dish for my evening at No 4 Blake Street.
Instead of the Goat’s Cheese Gnocchi, A was served Rabbit parfait, belly presse, loin and kidney terrine, gingerbread tuille, pomegranate. A said that she really enjoyed this dish, especially the rabbit parfait. The gingerbread tuille was a thin, crisp wafer that went well with the rabbit and belly presse. Another excellent dish.
No 4 Blake Street also add an ‘Al Dente’ dish to their degustation menu which differs each night. On this occasion, we were served Tortellini stuffed with sweetbreads and orange zest, served with a champagne cream and grated parmesan. The filling was delicious and I loved the addition of the slight orange flavour as the zestiness cut through the offal. There was a general consensus around our table that this was another favourite of our evening.
Romain offered us a glass of the 2004 D’Arenberg “The Laughing Magpie” Shiraz-Voignier from McLaren Vale. Initially I declined the offer but after the numerous ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ over the wine from the others at my table, I couldn’t help but ask for a glass. It was a smooth red that had been decanted for an extended period of time.
Our mains arrived to the table and both were presented beautifully. I was presented with the Barely cooked ocean trout, ink rice cracker, miso, cuttlefish and compressed cucumber. I really enjoyed my barely cooked ocean trout, which was very soft and had a mild flavour to it. All of the different textures of the dish went well together and overall, I was impressed with the dish.
A was served the Glazed pork, white eggplant caviar, mustard, cassis, eggplant crisp. I was glad that A was served the pork, as I am still in the beginning phases of eating it (I grew up in a Middle Eastern household, with a mother who didn’t cook pork often other than the occasional bit of bacon). A said that the pork was slightly tough but the standouts were the various elements on the plate, which added lots of flavour and textures.
I’m one of those strange people who count palate cleansers as part of my dining experience. I think it’s due to my love of sorbets and ice creams, and typically they are one of these. The palate cleanser at No 4 Blake Street could be added as another dish to the degustation, as we were presented with a Coconut sorbet served with a coconut foam, coriander jelly, pearls of lime tapioca, pineapple granita and a bed of salted sesame and topped with pop rocks. Firstly, let’s just say that the coconut sorbet was everything you wish for in sorbet – strong flavour but a soft texture. The coriander jelly went very well with the coconut flavour and A especially enjoyed the pineapple granita and the pop rocks on top. It was an amazing palate cleanser!
For dessert, I received the amazing Chocolate Garden: Valhrona Chocolate mousse, salted peanut, dacquiose, cherry. I fell in love with this dish even before I tasted it. I loved the presentation within the flower pot and it really did look like a little garden. The Valhrona Chocolate mousse looked like soil and the edible greenery completed the visual element. I didn’t find it overly sweet, which allowed me to finish the whole pot. Throughout the chocolate mousse there was salted peanut and it added ‘crunch’ to the dish. It was an amazing dessert and I will definitely return to have it again.
A was presented with the Textures of passionfruit: White basil ganache, mango, salted sesame, coconut sago. The white basil ganache was made really well and A liked the addition of the mango and salted sesame. I had a few bites of this dish but quickly decided that my calorie intake was dedicated to the Chocolate Garden only. A said that she preferred the textures of passionfruit dessert.
Throughout our evening, Majdouline introduced each dish to the table and gave a detailed explanation of individual elements within the dish. A and I asked Majdouline at the end of the evening how she knew so much about the process in the kitchen and she mentioned that she is actually a chef herself, but is taking time out to understand the front of house process. The addition of a maître d’ who is able to explain the dish in front of you made our experience even more memorable, as you are able to learn the different ingredients and cooking processes undertaken by the chef. It’s another enjoyable trait of No 4 Blake Street.
The 4 course degustation (without dessert) at No 4 Blake Street is only $70 or $100 with matching wines. If you choose to have dessert as well (6 course degustation), then it’s $90 or $135 with matching wine. Majdouline mentioned that the degustation menu can be catered for gluten or other dietary requirements.
No 4 Blake Street also does high tea and café food during the day. I’ve looked at their breakfast menu and there are some lovely options. I cannot wait to return and cannot recommend it enough.
Thanks to Tom and the team at No 4 Blake Street for inviting A and I to partake in a memorable evening.