When Springtime comes, the little food nerd inside me can’t help but squeal with excitement at the produce that comes into season. So naturally I’m a big fan of restaurants or cafes that offer seasonal menus. This concept is not just an exciting offering where the produce will be fresh and delicious (and quite often locally sourced), but it’s also an education for diners into understanding seasonality.
Recently I was invited for dinner at Amani Bar & Kitchen to celebrate the launch of their new Spring menu, which was a lovely surprise because of the reasons explained so far, but also the fact that I had yet to try this little Leederville bar that I’d heard great things about.
Arriving for our booking my boy and I found parking easily and made our way inside. It’s narrow (very narrow!) and long like a lane way. It looks really small from the outside, but is actually quite an efficient use of space when you’re relaxing inside. The decor is funky and bold, with black and white predominantly occupying the interior, and low intimate lighting. The menu is broken up into ‘something small’ and ‘something bigger’ so you can opt for an entree/main traditional ordering style or tapas share dining.
The boy and I decide to share for our dining experience, so we ask our lovely waitress for a recommendation on how many dishes to order. She suggests four-five depending on how hungry we are, so we decide to go for the larger amount since both of our tummies are growling hungrily.
After musing over the menu options and getting some order recommendations, we make our choice and set about waiting for the food. In the mean time our drinks arrive, which the boy has chosen an Asahi beer and I’ve selected the the Preachers Daughter cocktail ($18.00) which is made of coconut Ciroc vodka, citrus, agave and toasted coconut.
My cocktail is sweet and refreshingly cold. I love the addition of the toasted coconut which gives it a nice uniqueness and memorable flavour. It’s not too alcohol heavy in flavour which is ideal for me since I’m such a lightweight when it comes to drinking.
First to come out to the table is the chorizo and kransky ($18.00) which is a board made up of grilled chorizo and cheese kransky, house marinated olives and pommel frites. Immediately when I see the serving size I realise we should have opted for four dishes instead of five – we’re going to get very full!
The chorizo is smoky but a little tough as chorizo can be sometimes. It has a good fatty taste to it, which works well when you add a squeeze of lemon to get that acidic cut through. The kransky is the real star on the board though – soft, meaty and with just enough cheese to elevate the flavour. I’m not an olive fan so I steer clear but the boy tells me the green ones are really tasty in particular. We both agree we would have loved a sauce of some kind to dip the chips in, maybe an aioli or something creamy just for that extra burst of flavour.
The highly recommended scallops and duck ($23.00) is a dish comprised of seared Hokkaido scallops and cured duck breast with a lentil and wild rice salad, prosciutto crisp and orange cognac macerated strawberries.
I was really excited about this dish because it definitely has some innovative and less common flavour pairings. The mild sweetness of the scallops (which were perfectly seared with a translucent centre) worked well with the thin layer of fat on the duck. The lentil and wild rice salad is nutty and flavoursome, but it’s the strawberries in this dish that tie everything together. Sweet, tangy and the glue that brings each bite to a high level.
The chicken liver pate ($17.00) has bacon, cognac, absinthe and white wine, topped with Szechuan pepper port jelly. It’s served with cornichons and sourdough, presented in a cute little jar on a board. I’m such a fan or pates and parfaits, but it’s quite often you find restaurants aren’t able to execute them correctly. This one is on the money – just creamy enough and a good balance between the livers and the other ingredients in flavour. I really like the cornichons which are slightly tart, crunchy and a lovely companion on the board.
The polenta churros ($16.00) are the favourite pick of the evening for both my boy and I. The churros are made sweet corn, fennel, parmesan and polenta, served with a sour cream and parsley aioli.
As soon as they hit the table, the aroma was mouthwatering, and taking my first bite only managed to concrete what I had been suspecting. They’re delicious! Crunchy on the outside, so fluffy and soft on the inside, they have a great depth of flavour and work perfectly with the aioli underneath. I will definitely return for these alone!
Our final savoury dish for the evening is the octopus tentacles ($19) which is made of tender Fremantle octopus fried in light tempura batter. It’s served with grilled chorizo, a lentil and wildrice salad and a passionfruit vinaigrette mizuna salad.
I’m loving the presentation of all the dishes, and the use of edible flowers which just really brings that whole ‘Spring’ element into every plate. It all looks like edible art!
The octopus is tender and sweet, the batter lovely and light. In hindsight perhaps we shouldn’t have ordered this dish because it came with that lentil and wild rice salad from the scallop dish and the chorizo from the board so it felt a bit same same. That said, the flavours all worked really well together and the only thing I would change would be to add some sauce as it needed an extra ingredient in the dish to bind it all together. But that’s just a personal preference – I’m a bit of a sauce fiend!
Feeling rather full from dinner I almost decide to finish up then but after reading the desserts on offer, the boy and I decide to push through. There’s a great list of cheeses to choose from, plus three different desserts.
After eying up the cheeses, I decide on the passionfruit pannacotta ($15.00) which is creamy and infused with vanilla bean, Thai basil and passionfruit pulp. The gorgeous plate also has strawberries, grapes, praline, chocolate soil, a sesame tuile and a passionfruit macaron.
Yum. The thing I particularly love about this is the fact that it’s not just a dessert, it’s an entire dish. There’s texture, contrast of flavours and bursts of freshness throughout. Definitely one of the highlights of the evening and the perfect sweet ending for my delicious meal at Amani.
The flavours are really wonderful – fresh and zingy. The only downfall for me on this is the praline which is too sticky and gets caught in my teeth. I like the crunch of it, but I think the tuile managed to achieve this so I could have done without this element. The macaron is fantastic – the perfect consistency and flavour. Very tasty!
The boy’s dessert pick was the coconut creme brûlée ($14.00) which had a lovely flavour from the coconut cream, palm sugar and pandan. Inside the brûlée are slices of sweet date which are little surprise nuggets throughout. It’s accompanied by strawberries, chocolate soil and a coconut and sesame tuile.
I love the sound of a spoon cracking through the top layer of a brûlée and this one definitely didn’t disappoint. It’s almost as satisfying as yolk porn!
Well as you can probably guess from all the food above, the boy and I practically had to roll ourselves home after our epic feast at Amani Bar & Kitchen. It was such a great dinner and one that left us really impressed! A big thank you to the wonderful team at Amani for a lovely evening – they spoiled us rotten and definitely highlighted how cohesive and beautiful a Spring menu can be.