There’s something about eating at a restaurant that’s new to you. The intrigue over flavours; the delight over the aesthetic pleasure of your surroundings and the dishes presented. I am a food connoisseur. And by that I don’t just mean I need the best of the best, no I mean I am obsessed with food of all walks of life.
For me one of my favourite dining moments was the unveiling of the smoke jar egg at Restaurant Amuse in East Perth. Just one course of an extensive degustation that left me overwhelmed with awe. But on the opposite scale of things one of my other favourites is purchasing banh mi roadside in Vietnam for around AUD 50 cents and standing up, demolishing the delicious baguette with more gusto than I’d like to admit.
I just love food. I love cooking it; love dissecting flavours and complimentary notes and ingredients with as much curiosity and gleeful innocence as a child. Since I didn’t realise how I felt about cooking until later in my life, I haven’t (at least not yet!) gone down the path of a career in food (given my love of marketing and my corporate alter ego) so this blog was started to celebrate my ever-growing adoration of substance and edible art.
I’ve only just recently this month reached my two year anniversary since I first created my faithful blogger account. Has it been a crazy ride? Maybe a little. But more than anything, it’s been an enjoyable chance to wind down from my hectic life, to express myself and to celebrate the Perth (and sometimes beyond) culinary scene – whether it be humble market food or fancy fine dining. It all has a place in my heart. It always will.
So why start this blog post on my recent dinner at Petite Mort this way? I think it’s something I just want to make clear to any readers who stumble across my little website. I am a food blogger. I’m not an expert, and I know sometimes the lines can blur in this world of eating, snapping and writing. I write about food simply because if I didn’t I’d probably never stop talking about it. I have nothing but respect for those who dedicate their working lives to the food industry – I hope the photos I take and the words I place on the page can do them justice.
You may have noticed I’ve slowed down a little in the blogging space when it comes to fine dining. It’s still something I enjoy (who doesn’t!) but with the ever-increasing pressures that come with being the breadwinner in the relationship while my partner is studying to be a paramedic it becomes a rare occasion. I don’t mind at all, it’s definitely worth it knowing that after an arduous and exhausting eighteen month application process with St John Ambulance, my boy was on the shortlist of 35 chosen out of 1400.
I’ve mentioned in other posts that our lives are on opposite schedules at the moment. I’m working full time, with some foodie events on now and then at night. He’s studying during the week and working on the weekends for St John. As he’s moving in to a month of afternoon/night shifts, we decided to have a date night on our final Saturday night for a few weeks.
I left the planning to Jeremy, thinking that we’d probably go somewhere casual for dinner with a movie afterwards. Boy was I surprised! He came home from work around 7pm and told me to get ready, we had a booking at 8pm at Petite Mort in Shenton Park. To say I was excited and completely surprised by this is an understatement. Around that time I was beginning to wish I hadn’t been snacking on triple cream brie before he came home… but then again life’s too short to regret cheese.
It’s a cool night, but we dress up and make our way to Shenton Park. Petite Mort is in the burbs, quite close to Galileo which is an Italian restaurant I’ve heard quite a bit about. Walking in the restaurant looks like a restored house, which is likely the case.
It’s dimly lit, with dark intimate tables and diners merrily toasting the night away. You have a choice of two different menus – a full degustation ($110) or the taste degustation menu ($95). Both sound extensive and comprehensive, but I leave it with my boy to decide which he’d like – he chooses the full version.
Not long after we advise our waitress and our drinks arrive, we’re presented with our bread course for the evening. One piece of rye and another or brioche each with some cultured butter.
Bread for me is such a treat, particularly the immensely decadent brioche which is definitely the shining star of the two. It lines my belly and gets me ready for the food that will come next.
Our first formal course for the evening comes to the table as ham hock, with cubes of potato, crisp bacon and bacon foam. Our waiter then produces a pouring jug, topping our bowls up with a beautifully velvety looking potato veloute.
Made from a wonderful, deeply flavoured stock, the veloute is the real hero of this dish. It’s buttery and rich – just the thing you want on a cold night to warm your soul. The bacon is a crisp shard, snapping in my mouth and offering a good hit of salt and fat.
The next course to come out is a 180 degree change from the veloute. The cured snapper is light and cool on the palate. I love (love, love, love) the ponzu jelly which is a nice spin on your standard cured fish and citrus flavour pairing. The wasabi sorbet is powerful but I really enjoy it since I’m the sort of person who smothers her food in wasabi – the only downfall is it melts really quickly before I get halfway through the plate.
This dish is just fresh and vibrant. Don’t let the dim lighting influence your thoughts on how it looks – it was really impressive.
Leading on from the light snapper was a meatier and richer dish. A lovely rectangle of roasted pork belly sits proudly on one end atop a silky apple puree. The meat is juicy and tender; the fat rendered off so it melts in your mouth. The skin on top is paper thin; snapping in my mouth much to my great satisfaction.
In the middle of the dish is a little stack of cold pickled mushrooms which are just tart enough that they make your mouth water even as you eat. They’re next to a good sized piece of crackling that I munch away on happily, enjoying the texture and salty flavour.
Finally down the other end of the plate is the “pig head” which mainly consists of cheek that has been broken down to a soft, moorish texture. The flavour of pork and scallop is classic and doesn’t disappoint here – it’s definitely my favourite part of the dish (especially when I slide my fork of meat through some of the leftover apple puree which is sweet and just slightly sour).
The duck dish is my favourite plating for the night. It’s rich but somehow light at the same time when I start making my way through the different elements.
The confit thigh is gorgeous – there’s really no words. I start off on this and fall into a tender meat heaven. Sadly the breast isn’t able to live up to the same standard as it’s a little dry in comparison – the dangers of this cut of meat!
I adore the garlic cream underneath the crisp croquette and the little chunks of sweet fig. It’s a dish of punchy flavours, and a great mixture of different textures. The croquette is the hero for sure, breaking open to reveal lovely shredded pieces of duck inside that crumbed coating.
Once our plates have cleared from the duck course we’re brought out our palate cleanser before the final savoury course. These days palate cleansers are generally sorbets, so I like that Petite Mort’s version is something completely different.
The tiny cocktail glass has ginger water topped with a sparkling orange cream. We’re instructed to drink it in one go, starting at the bottom and working your way up until you’ve finished it.
I’m not the biggest fan of ginger flavouring, but this is actually quite delicious. A little spicy, a little sweet. It definitely works like it should, cleansing my mouth of any residual flavour from the courses we’d eaten so far.
For the final savoury courses of the evening, we’re actually given a choice out of two items. Though I want the steak, egg and chips option, Jeremy and I are keen to try the different options available so I concede and opt for the huon salmon.
Cooked at 49 degrees, the salmon is presented with horseradish in solid and foam form, with herbed potatoes, beetroot and carrot squares, beetroot shards and carrot crisps. It’s definitely a work of art, with so many vibrant colours!
The salmon is soft and flakes apart. Cooking it at the low temperature has allowed it to keep a really fantastic texture that is offset against the crunch of the shards and crisps. I enjoy my dish… but I have to say, Jeremy’s steak, egg and chips is the dish of the night.
It looks so simple, but this beautiful dish is so packed full of flavour it’s almost hard to believe. The steak is tender, yielding to the knife with ease. I love that perfect little fried quail egg that sits on top, the yolk so stunningly vivid.
If I return to Petite Mort, I will definitely be choosing this humble and unassuming looking masterpiece!
By this time I can’t believe we’ve nearly finished already and are moving on to the pre-dessert for the evening. It’s pear sorbet on yoghurt with a candied walnut. And it is delicious. Like all the other dishes for the night, Jeremy and I both agree that everything we’d eaten to that point was something we would happily go to a restaurant and order as a standalone dish.
This sorbet is sweet and spiced; the candied walnut a great addition that elevates the mouthful as you crunch down. It’s so yummy!
The dessert for the evening is titled simply ‘death by chocolate’. It’s definitely a showcasing of different chocolate bites. Atop of a pool of caramel and biscuit crumb sits a tiny macaron, white chocolate mousse in shell, dark chocolate truffles, ganache and mousse.
The white chocolate is my favourite – creamy, cool and utterly delightful and sweet. The ganache is also a great bite sized treat. Glossy, rich and texturally perfect.
When we finish our meal we’re served petit fours, which is another round of macarons. I can see the other tables around us are offered tea and coffee but somehow we aren’t offered this even though it’s part of the menu. It’s a bit disappointing, but not a massive issue.
For me, the night at Petite Mort was lovely. The food was just delicious and a different offering to other degustations I’ve enjoyed in the past. I really liked that when we went to pay and provided our entertainment card, the waiter advised us they don’t scratch the panel off the back in the hopes you’ll return again. Which I’m sure we will one day!
It was a lovely night though I did find myself feeling a little flat from the couple next to us. As a food blogger it’s always a hard balance to find between enjoying your night out and trying to capture the moments with your camera. I have certain rules when it’s a date night in particular – no flash, no making my boy wait more than a minute or two and no worrying about lighting. You just can’t do anything about the shadows in a place like this where they rely on mood lighting.
It’s even harder when you’re seated next to people who find your photo taking amusing and actually laugh at you when you bring your camera out. Normally I don’t mind, but as it continued throughout the night I found myself getting deflated and embarrassed. It wasn’t a huge drama by any means, but after a day where I’d already had one intense conversation around blogging, it wasn’t what I needed to experience.
I can only say now looking back at the night and the great food, and the great experiences that have fuelled my blog to date that I can shake it off. I will continue in my mission to write about my love of food and my eating adventures – and as I do, I’d like to say thank you for your support as a reader. Whether you’re a one time visitor, a subscriber or a fellow blogger – knowing there are some people out there who don’t find this whole food obsessions craze pathetic or amusing is enough to keep me going in this passion of mine.