Restaurant in Perth
Modern Australian Restaurant with French Origins
If we think of chefs as culinary composers, then surely they are all aiming for their own personal opuses, a work that they will go down in history for that is representative of their lifetime’s toil in the kitchen.
We were given front row seats for Opus’s head chef Pascal Pietri to perform a composition reflective of his prestigious experience. ‘Maestro, play on…’
We begin our symphony to the strains of a warm brioche served with a trio of flavoured butters; the smoked variety is our favourite, yet it’s followed by a close joint second of piquant chilli butter and a surprisingly impressive seaweed-tinged number. The starter of royale of foie gras has a light consistency and is topped with smoked eel foam, the two textures separated by a wafer-thin crystalline sugar disc; the ornate garnish of tomato seeds, crushed ginger and citrus jelly offer a refreshing counterpoint to the dish’s thicker flavours.
Macaroni seems a brave choice for a starter, given its characteristically heavy consistency, yet the thin rolls of perfectly crafted pasta worked wonders to whet our appetites, as they are packed full of granulated black truffle, foie gras and parmesan with a delightfully tangy veal jus spread in strips over the dish. It’s accompanied by an unpretentious yet utterly beautiful Chardonnay from Leeuwin Estate in Margaret River, which acts as an ambrosial canvas upon which the unique flavours of the foie gras and truffle dance in happy union.
Like with any good entrées, both dishes are just small enough to leave us wanting more; the mains did not disappoint, and the overture begins to swell with a grilled marron coated in a sumptuous hollandaise sauce that’s specked with firm asparagus tips, which offered a crunchy counterpoint to the soft flesh of the crustacean’s meaty tail. Just like its crayfish cousins, marron have the surprising ability to supply their devourer with a fair amount of meat without actually filling them up too much, which leaves us plenty of room for a side of delicious, crisped dauphinoise-style potato dumplings.
The other main is a gorgeous assemblage of quail breast and leg that has been soaked in an orange and lemon chutney that lends an innovative, fruity slant on the classic game bird dish. The segments of meat lie scattered atop of an ideally suited mille feuille of wilted spinach and Jerusalem artichoke that demonstrates Pietri’s classic French schooling. What we don’t count on after such an incredible display of virtuosic talents is an esculent coda in the form of a consommé made from the quail’s juices, served in a large snifter that has hickory smoke and vodka spray hermetically sealed inside the glass with a bitter chocolate wafer. We glug the curious concoction and agree with the charming waitress who describes it as, “Your soup, your cigar and your dessert all in one sip!” This really is haute cuisine at its very best.
With the dining experience building to a crescendo, we think it best to savour every moment and opt for the desserts that require a minimum of 25 minutes preparation time. During this lull we take in the restaurant’s elegant, understated décor, which is in keeping with The Richardson’s in which the restaurant is located. The candle-bulb chandeliers and lush red carpet combined with the wine bottle-lined brick walls juxtapose a formal setting with a relaxed atmosphere, a pleasant paradox that is congruous with the serving staff’s genial composure and willingness to chat affably while recommending their favourite selections from the inimitably refined menu.
The final course arrives and we are treated to Pietri’s own secret recipe for an original chocolate fondant that dates back to 1981; its warm, viscous centre is set off by the accompanying blob of chilled cream and it’s almost too much for my stomach to fit in…almost. The soufflé is so light it’s a wonder that it doesn’t become airborne, yet it’s weighed down with a generous dollop of walnut ice cream and a smattering of passion fruit and Grand Marnier jus that we squeeze from a separate tube all over the crisped, fluffy top.
Just when we think that we’ve reached the meal’s dénouement, Pietri has one final movement for us; an Eden-esque garden of petit fours that has macaroons and passion fruit jellies suspended on stem-like sticks and candied apples, fairy floss and chocolate truffles hanging from the branches of a miniature tree, which sits on our table like a comestible centrepiece. Hansel and Gretel’s Wicked Witch can eat her heart out.
With bursting bellies and satisfied taste buds, we bid adieu to Opus; the restaurant truly is a shining example of a chef who has reached his personal apotheosis and is playing for an audience that will never tire of his tunes. I just hope that I’m invited back for an encore…
Open for dinner from 6pm Tuesday to Saturday, closed on Sunday, Monday and Public Holidays.
David Harfield is a freelance food and travel writer
|Reviewer's Rating||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Need to book||Yes|
|Dietary Requirements Accommodated||Yes|
|Clientele||Hotel guests and regular locals|
|Restaurant good for||Couples, Families with children, Romance, Large groups, Doing business|
|Cost per head||High|
|Dress Code||Smart Casual|
With dim lighting and warm décor, Opus is an ideal setting for both a romantic date or an important meeting, with restaurant staff who are well-versed in giving customers as much or as little attention as is appropriate.
À la carte Starters from $22; Specialty Dishes from $39; Degustation Menu from $145pp; with wine $75pp; Desserts from $15. Wine from $14 a glass, $50 a bottle.
Last updated on 18-12-2012