Here in Australia, Pete Evans is a celebrity chef who has had his fair share of airtime, both negative and positive. Easily seen as the leading authority of all things paleo, he has brought a taste of his cooking to Perth over at Fraser Suites restaurant Heirloom.
Recently Dimmi offered a 50% off the food bill discount to dine at Heirloom, so I decided it was time for me to try it for myself. I had originally intended to go with Jeremy but in my haste I’d booked a night he was actually working so I invited my mum to come along instead – after all, it’s nice for us to catch up every few weeks and she loves food just as much as I do!
As we sat at our table the restaurant was about a third full, with dim lighting throughout. From an ambiance perspective it was a bit dull, and seemed to fall more on the beige side of things – it could have used a bit of vibe to improve the experience.
We started the night off with a cocktail each, which tends to be our tradition these days when going out for dinner. Mum, with her love of tequila based drinks chose a margarita ($18.00), which was presented in the traditional glass though the salt rim wasn’t quite complete.
I spied a cherry flavoured martini which I was hoping would tow the line between sweet and tart – though unfortunately was just plain strong in terms of the alcohol flavour. I ended up not being able to finish it because the flavour was highly unbalanced.
Since it was a later booking than we would normally make, we ordered straight away once we were able to flag down a waitress. Throughout the night this proved to be a common occurrence much to my disappointment – it wasn’t busy by any means, but it was almost impossible to get any of the staff’s attention with the exception of our food being brought to the table.
The menu’s offering was extensive with something for everyone. It is of course gluten and dairy free for the most part, with paleo substitutes for items like pizza. Not quite the sort of food I would gravitate toward but still it presented an interesting proposition for our meal worth trying.
My entree for the evening was the salmon tartare with crispy nori, avocado, salmon roe and kimchi ($23.00). It was quite a pretty dish, even in the low candlelight of the restaurant. The taste itself was pleasant but there was too much avocado in the mixture, therefore overpowering the salmon pieces throughout.
The kimchi was not really what I thought it would be, more of a sauerkraut and the flavour was no quite as punchy as I would have liked to see. I ended up forgoing this ingredient to concentrate on the others on the plate. The real standout of the dish was the crispy nori sheets, which were salty, crunchy and just plain addictive. I could happily munch on these like crisps any day of the week.
My mum decided on the braised pork belly with black vinegar and cuttlefish salad ($26.00) which sounded right up both our of alleys! It looked great, with the pork belly soft and unctuous – our forks glided right through the meat which is exactly what you want. We both agreed it would have been fantastic for there to have been a crispy crackling layer but the flavour of the braised meat almost made up for this.
The cuttlefish salad was more salad than cuttlefish, but was a nice variation to surf and turf. The cuttlefish was lightly fried, with a generous sprinkling of seasoning to bring out the natural flavour.
While normally we both like to order something different to try a variety of dishes on a restaurant’s menu, neither of us could take our eyes off the 200 gram Blackwood Valley 100% grass fed beef fillet with bone marrow, parsley and hazelnut salad, and red wine jus ($45.00).
I actually love a good steak, but I hardly ever eat it because I tend to gravitate more towards vegetarian or seafood options. But when you’re out and about, steak can be a real treat for your tastebuds – especially when it’s cooked properly.
This version was seared on the outside, and plump to the touch. When we both cut our pieces open they were perfectly rare – something I find some restaurants are unable to achieve properly. Even better, the meat had been properly rested and was so juicy and delicious. This was a fantastic piece of steak, and the highlight of our dinner. Especially when you slathered a little of that decadently rich bone marrow which was buttery and melt in your mouth.
The parsley salad… well those of you who read my blog regularly know this is possibly the only herb I just am not a fan of. There’s something about it that just can’t tick the box – I find it really overpowering and kind of resembling what I imagine grass would taste like haha. So predictably, I could have lived without this addition and would have much preferred a ridiculously buttery mash because potatoes will always be the perfect steak accompaniment!
Though we were both feeling quite full, we decided to share a dessert seeing as we were indulging at only half the price. When in Rome…
Though I make pannacotta at home quite often, I was eager to try Heirloom’s version of coconut and pineapple pannacotta with chilli mango salsa and hazelnuts ($14.00). When it came out to the table it was a bit of a miss in presentation for me – I much prefer when they’re not served in jars but really it was the taste that counted.
Coconut pannacotta is usually my favourite thanks to the richness of that coconut cream instead of milkiness – but this one was really grainy and lacking in flavour. It definitely wasn’t sweet enough resulting in every bite being lacklustre. After a decent entree and a great main, this was a real miss for the evening and left me feeling flat. Not a great dessert at all.
It’s never good to finish a night out on a negative note, and to top things off it was next to impossible to flag down someone so we could pay – we ended up going to the counter and waiting instead. For a restaurant with prices like the ones listed, I expect so much more considering the other restaurants in Perth of the same or better calibre and pricing. If I’m being completely honest, I think I’d only pay around what we did for the Dimmi special (with the exception of the steak… which is still slightly too high at it’s usual cost) for the quality of the food we ate. It’s not a bad venue, but I think it hasn’t quite hit the highs that having a chef as well known as Pete Evans is that you would expect to see.