An Asian showcase at The Bird Cage

I’ve logged on to blog about my experience at The Bird Cage and I’m seeing a score on Urbanspoon which really surprises me. It’s much lower than I would think for a place that uses flavours and ingredients in an unexpectedly modern manner. But perhaps I was there at the right time, and with my work colleagues, chose the right ingredients.

Like most of WA winter so far, it’s a cold but intensely sunny day; beams of light filtering through the floor to roof windows that surround this restaurant. The decor inside is wonderful; a beautiful tree decal on the front glass doors and a library reminiscent styling.

The service starts off a little slow, with no one helping us when we first enter (even though its quiet and we have a booking). It isn’t a great way to begin, but once we’re seated and have a nice bottle of Cape Mentelle in front of us, we’re perusing the menu with sceptical wonder.

The way the menu is set out does not do it justice. The descriptions are average, and do not tell the truth on how amazing the flavours are in the dishes here.

We start our meal off with four entrees between the five of us, chosen from the ‘small’ section of the menu. Ham hock terrine with green chilli mayo ($13). I personally hate the word hock, but tend to ignore it because I know how delicious the meat is off the bone. The croquettes lack the bite that most do, with no real amount of cheese present. But they are very flavoursome and pay homage to the ham.

The next entree presented to us is the crab with sweet corn and kaffir lime ($12). It’s a gluten free patty that is soft in texture and sweet from the corn and zingy lime. So far, not too bad but not so impressive.

The pink pepper squid with garlic, lime and shallots ($12) is an impressive piling of squid. It’s curls of the beautiful seafood, decorated in a flamboyant fashion. The seasoning is singing in our mouths as we move on to the final starter.

Wild mushroom and truffles sit in small bowl aside a delicate chilli oil. The idea here is to spoon these on top of wonton chips like a deconstructed dumpling. It’s new age and exciting and I could have continued eating that wonderful mushroom mixture for days ($12).

Now invested in the flavours and range of food here, we’re dissecting the menu to choose mains eagerly. There is a section of ‘medium’ items and ‘shared’. Since we’ve enjoyed our range of food for entrees, we decide to share for mains too. 
Our first choice is the beef rendang curry ($25) on the specials list for lunch. It’s the most tender beef I think I’ve ever encountered in a curry; falling apart in the intricately balanced sauce that seeps into the coconut flavoured rice that accompanies. 
We’ve also gone for two shared platters for this meal. The first is baby snapper, massaman curry, caramelised pumpkin and charred beans ($40). How I wish I had been switched on enough to take a photo of the mains because they are works of art! Large platter dishes with food presented in a modern, elegant manner. I’m excited and salivating. And when I have that first bite I’m happy that the fish is cooked just right so that it is flaky and soft. The curry accompaniment is more mild than the rendang and the beans are crunchy but fresh. 
Our final main is a pork, prawn and paw paw platter with chilli caramel and iceberg ($40). This is the standout dish for the entire meal for me. The chilli caramel is a sweet but savoury companion to the mounds of shredded iceberg lettuce; teasing my tastebuds in a decadent fashion. The pork itself is cooked in such a clever manner. It’s soft and tender and the fat basically melts in my mouth. It’s full of Asian inspired flavours that are interesting and a refreshing take on this restaurant dish.

We finish off our meals with desserts, and I’ve opted for one very simply described chocolate and banana.

The smear of chocolate on the plate is sticky; the icecream decadent and bitter. It’s surrounded with a light crumble of nuts and some light herbs to offer some textural difference. There are two slices of banana on the plate that have a hard caramel coating to them. It cracks through like digging in to a creme brulee. A spring roll type log sits on the plate filled with a thick creme patissiere inside. It’s a lovely pastry cream that spills out when I dig in with my spoon, coating my tongue as I savour the taste. And then finally on the plate sits two little squares of sweet white chocolate fudge. The perfect way to finish this very rich dish off. Yum yum.

The Aviary – Bird Cage Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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