The return of The Raffles

Earlier in 2014 the iconic Raffles Hotel in Applecross closed its doors to undertake a refresh. It was just in time for the silly season that it welcomed patrons back. While I haven’t spent as much time there in recent years, once upon a time I was all over this place – just as my parents had been several decades ago. So a couple days after reopening, my girls Vee, Linda and I decided to catch up for a Sunday lunch to check it out.

Arriving around 1pm, the place was quite busy with most tables occupied. We manage to snag one of the last ones available inside and in our normal fashion kick things off with a cocktail. I used to love the cocktails at the Raffles, often indulging in one too many of their passionfruit mojitos. The cocktail list has been revamped though, with new and exciting drinks on offer.

We choose ‘The Three’ ($19.00 each) which is Pampero Especial rum, Cointreau, house made strawberry syrup, fresh kiwifruit, orange and pineapple juice with bitters. It’s a refreshing drink, a little sweet with a nice fruity flavour. At first it feels a little sharp but as the ice melts it mellows out and I find myself relaxing and enjoying each sip. 
Chilling out we look over the menu to decide on what to eat while taking in the new look and feel. It’s a very clean and fresh looking Raffles now, with a slight throwback feel to the floor pattern. It feels very bright and airy, though a little sterile right now – give it a couple of months to get worn in a bit and it’ll feel just right I think!

Selecting the dishes we want to eat is easier said than done. There’s so many tasty sounding items on the menu and we’re all really hungry. In the end we decide to share a couple of dishes to start, and then order a main each.

The first of our starting dishes to come out are the hand cut chips with aioli ($10.00). I just love chips like this – skin on, crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They’re well seasoned and steaming hot. The aioli is creamy and garlicky, cute in it’s little bottle which I think is more for presentation than practicality as it’s quite small and difficult to get much sauce out of. We end up asking for another which we also finish without completely demolishing our chips.

We also choose the yellowfin tuna crudo with capers and caviar ($19.00). For me, you can’t really go wrong with raw fish and this one is beautiful with a soft, supple texture and zingy dressing. Baby capers have such punch to them, and they offer a nice contrast to the pop and burst of the salmon roe. I’m a big fan of radishes with their sweet peppery flavour, so I naturally enjoy having them on the plate.

The dish is lovely, with perhaps a touch too much oil, but it is on the small side. For the Raffles I remember, I didn’t feel that this quite aligned with how they positioned themselves though it could be that with their refresh they’re trying to target a different market similar to their sister restaurant Print Hall.

Not long after we finish the first two dishes, our mains come to the table. Vee has ordered the pan roasted barramundi fillet with zucchini and pesto peperonata ($32.00). I love fresh fish and this one looked delicious. I watched enviously as her fork gently prodded the delicate white flesh apart, that skin crunching away with each bite.

It’s a very simple dish though well executed and she reports back that she really enjoys it. Once again I’m left feeling like it might be a touch on the expensive side considering the accompaniments to the fish were really minimal and the piece itself wasn’t any longer than the lemon cheek presented with it.

Linda’s order is actually one that surprises me – it’s something I myself was considering getting too! The scallop and pancetta risotto with reggiano ($28.00) comes out long and flat, with the most delicious aroma wafting from it. I love the sprinkling of fresh herbs over the top, it made the dish look so fresh and vibrant.

Sneaking a taste it’s cooked really well, with the rice grains still al dente, just the way a great risotto should be. Linda enjoys it, though she tells us she’s disappointed that the scallops are diced finely throughout the dish as it becomes hard to identify just how many scallops are present – and their sweet, delicate flavour begins to blend instead of being concentrated.

My order choice is the soft polenta with wood grilled mushrooms and asiago ($29.00). I’m a bit of a fiend for good polenta and if you know me, you’ll know I eat a huge amount of mushrooms – they’re easily one of my favourite ingredients. 
The polenta dish is the smallest of our mains and while I know it’s summer, it looks so wintery and comforting. The polenta consistency is perfect – viscous, creamy and buttery. It does have a pool of oil collecting underneath which I find a little disconcerting but it doesn’t distract from the flavour so I am happy to ignore that. 
The mushrooms are just plain delicious. A good balance between soft and firm, they’ve been cooked on the money and are well seasoned. Sometimes when you eat cooked mushrooms they can feel greasy or soggy but these ones were a great example of just how incredible this produce can be. And for a vegetarian dish, I found this almost meaty and very enjoyable. 

The Raffles Hotel is back people and I think with this change it’s brought a new era to this institution for the food and drinks on offer. I am looking forward to returning for their pizzas, which always used to be such crowd pleasers in my years visiting this venue. I also spied some pretty tasty sounding desserts so next time I’m here (which I’m sure over summer will be many times) I’ll be getting my hands on some of those!

Raffles Hotel Perth on Urbanspoon

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Martine @ Chompchomp
    5 January 2015 at 1:11 am

    Holy moly $29 for polenta and mushrooms! I remember Raffles being expensive but cripes that is a lot! Looks delicious though….I want to go there for that risotto sounds gorgeous.

  • Reply
    Queen of Bad Timing
    5 January 2015 at 5:35 am

    I know, the prices were quite steep! But my god the mushrooms were tasty 🙂

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