Nearly two years ago my boy bought me a surprise gift of a hot air balloon ride via voucher on Red Balloon. I was so excited since it’s on my ‘bucket list’ but time passed by and we missed out on the season for these rides which meant I needed to transfer my voucher credit to use on something else. The hot air balloon would have to wait!
I chose a makeup voucher with Napoleon for some product and makeup application before a night out, plus a dinner voucher for Opus, a restaurant at the Richardson Hotel in West Perth. Nearly 9 months passed before I remembered we had the voucher to use – whoops! But never mind, an impromptu degustation is always great so into the car the boy and I piled on Friday night to make our way to this highly rated, but relatively unknown restaurant. I wasn’t sure what to expect since no one I’d spoken to had heard of it, but the ratings on Urbanspoon seemed quite favourable so fingers and toes were crossed!
The only bad thing was the weather – that horrible storm held us up in traffic so bad we were nearly half an hour late. Thankfully the restaurant was really sweet about it when we rang up to let them know – in fact they thanked us for advising them. Off to a good start!
Arriving at Opus it’s plushy and comfortable. Brighter lights than most fine dining places but since I had my trusty camera with me to capture the night’s meal, the lighting was great. The staff are all really polite and charming, helping us to choose wine for the evening before we start to eat.
When our red wine comes to the table (Hither & Yon Tannat Grenache, McLaren Vale SA 2012) so does the most aromatic bread, setting off a series of rumbles in my belly. Two little olive bread buns and two multi-grain, warmed, with accompanying butter – plain and salted with grated truffle. Both are lovely, though a little too cold for my liking – I like when butter is easy to spread. But the warm bread finally gets the butter into a more malleable state, and I get to really appreciate the creamy, earthy truffle butter and the fluffy bread with crunchy crust.
Bread is such a treat – only ever eaten when I dine out, and this one definitely did not disappoint. It definitely got my tastebuds into gear for the meal to come. I had to stop myself from taking up the waiter’s offer for more. It was too yummy!
Before the degustation menu commences we’re served an amuse bouche – salmon ballotine with crab inside, mushroom and pickled onion on the side, crisp bread and citrus mustard mayonnaise sauce. Yum. Seriously, yum.
The salmon and crab are a really lovely combination – the oiliness of the fish combined with the creamy crab offer a nice contrast. The sauce has that wasabi reminiscent effect where you feel heat but then it gives way to the mustard flavour that is unique and pleasant. I really enjoyed this amuse bouche and could imagine that it would be a very well received dish on a permanent menu as well!
As the first official course of the evening is placed in front of us I realise on the menu that this is a truffle degustation. Yay! I finally made it to one, though accidentally. I always feel like I don’t get enough out of truffle season, and being the absolute fiend for all things truffle and mushroom that I am, it was cause for celebration.
The wild mushroom consommé placed in front of us is clear and beautiful. Inside floats two perfectly formed truffle tortellini, with a selection of mushrooms, shaved truffle, asparagus spears and fresh herbs.
The consommé is flavoursome, deep in layers of mushroom. I find the tortellini a little harder than I was prepared for in texture, however they’re really tasty – full of garlic and truffle. The asparagus is nice and firm, with a satisfying crunch when I bite down – I find too often this is a vegetable overcooked until it becomes stringy and sloppy. You can really tell the freshness in Opus’s serving.
All up this is a good solid start. Tasty, but perhaps lacking that real wow factor that you normally anticipate from a degustation.
The second course is my favourite for the evening, even though it’s very simple. It’s just perfectly executed and would be a great main at any restaurant – perhaps not your normal degustation style dish but as we go through the dinner I start to realise Opus don’t follow your standard dego rules which could be considered a nice point of difference.
This course was the pan fried Broome barramundi with fennel, artichoke, trompete de mort, broad beans and haricot blanc.
Foam sauces are a bit dated in fine dining these days, but I suppose that’s Opus’s charm – it’s very old world French. Very technical and classic cooking styles and ingredients, which is something that isn’t as easy to find these days.
The barramundi is steaming hot, the flesh flaking away with the simple prod of my fork. The skin is melt in your mouth good – crisp, satisfying and just salty enough to make you pay attention. I love broad beans so they’re a really nice addition, working well with the crunch of the fennel and the softness of the artichoke.
Our final savoury course for the evening is my boy’s pick for the evening. It’s a beef fillet that comes topped with a béarnaise foam and side of sauce, leek and truffle dauphinoise, prawn croquette and smoked quail egg. We once again opt for truffles to be grated on top (of course!).
At the start of dinner we’re asked how we both would like our meat cooked for this course. We both pick rare, which I’m pleased to see has been successfully achieved when I cut into the beef. It’s wonderfully tender and juicy, though could have been rested a bit longer as red juices spill out when I cut into it. Never mind though, the taste is still there.
Béarnaise sauce is classic with beef, creamy and decadent. I really like the dauphinoise, with it’s sweet leeks and starchy potatoes offering a match made in heaven partnership. It is a little hard to cut into without the layers all slipping everywhere but that doesn’t bother me so much. I love the little onion jam that sits on top for even more sweetness.
The prawn croquette has lost a little of the crunch where the foam sits on top, but the outer untouched parts are crispy, and the inside is definitely creamy. I like surf and turf but I’m not so sure about the combination in this instance. Everything tastes nice, but I feel like the croquette was a little out of place.
Before we move onto dessert, we’re given a palate cleanser to enjoy. It’s a shot glass with citrus jelly, watermelon jelly and crème fraîche. I’m so used to granitas or sorbets as palate cleanser so I really liked seeing something different. This one did the job – the jellies are sweet but not cloying, the crème fraîche like a foam on top so it’s light and a little tart. I like that in the middle of the watermelon jelly sits a scooped ball of fresh watermelon which is sweet and crunchy. I love watermelon!
Dessert in the truffle degustation is Grand Marnier and truffle souffle, with truffle ice-cream and orange crème anglaise. Our waiter prepares the dish in front of us, dropping the ice-cream into the centre of the soufflé and pouring some of the anglaise on top.
The ice-cream was quite melted when it reached our table which meant that it turned completely to liquid when it was inserted into the soufflé. Luckily you could still taste it, and to my surprise truffle in ice-cream is actually really nice. It reduces the sweetness but doesn’t detract from the creaminess. Very nice!
The soufflé is lighter than air, and so soft inside which is really impressive. The anglaise is sweet and a subtle flavour of orange, which I think works well. It’s a really nice dessert, and another demonstration of the classic French cooking styles Opus exhibits.
We finish off the night on a round of petit fours which you can choose to have with tea or coffee. We’re actually pretty tired after a long week so we opt for no drinks, with me just finishing off the wine I’ve been so slowly drinking.
Our waiter accidentally drops two of the petit fours (the marshmallow and macaron) so these aren’t pictured. He kindly replaces them for us on a side plate to enjoy – we got too greedy and gobbled them up before I could snap a pic.
The petit fours are a mixed bag. Sometimes I find it frustrating when you go for dinner and you’re given all different petit fours to share. I know this sounds weird, but I love trying everything so most of the time I need to bully the boy into biting only half of each so we get to sample all we’re presented with.
The best on the board at Opus is the milk chocolate truffle, the white chocolate cluster and the strawberries and cream macaron. I love a good macaron! I’m not so crazy about the marzipan bee (though it looks cute!) and the citrus marshmallow which is too sticky and not quite the right texture to how I personally like them to be.
Our night at Opus was enjoyable and full of classic French cooking. The produce is beautiful, and the service is fantastic. I had a great time, though I did feel that the dinner didn’t quite reach the wow factor highs of other degustations I’ve enjoyed in Perth like Restaurant Amuse and even the more similarly priced No 4 Blake Street. But for the price of $85, I have to say I was impressed by the generosity of truffles used and it is definitely one of the cheapest degustations in our fair city right now.