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Food and Wine

THERE are times when the fine line between business and pleasure blurs. When meeting a regular contact for dinner might be dressed up as a social occasion, yet may involve some ulterior motive, be it a job or a business oppotunity.

It is the type of evening event where the venue must be chosen cautiously. Somewhere that offers discretion without being too far off the beaten track – and a fine meal to boot.

Perth’s suburbs offer a growing number of such establishments.

After much consideration, I decided to try the Star Anise Restaurant in Shenton Park. I booked my table for two at 8pm and with plenty of parking directly outside on Onslow Road you don’t need to leave home an hour early to ensure you find a parking bay in time.

On my arrival I found my guest waiting, nestled comfortably in the smaller of the two interior restaurant spaces, formed from the original old shopfront. We were offered a drink as we were given menus.

The Star Anise recently obtained a liquor licence and is now fully licensed, so a soothing gin and tonic can be found if you want to maintain that relaxed demeanour from the start.

We chose to BYO wine, but the wine list offers an intriguing mixture of wines that suit the styles of food available, and the prices don’t leave you with that feeling of having just been clothes shopping with the other half.

A complimentary offering of pate and sweet relish was a welcome addition to the early conversation. I was pleased to note that sound absorbers added a while back now have made an enormous difference to the atmosphere and general feel of the restaurant, allowing private conversation without the previous din.

We were not hurried into making our choice for dinner although, the service was a tad overbearing at the beginning of the evening, then again I could have been a little more observant than towards the latter part of dinner.

About 10 minutes after sitting down, our wine was poured and we ordered entrées and our main dishes.

The restaurant was busy, it was only a Wednesday night and the diners were a mixture of families, couples and business people.

Much of the clientele were, it seemed, dining for a special occasion, however it, the atmosphere, adhered itself to a place, you could happily conduct business and catch up with clients in a relaxed and unnoticed environment.

Twenty minutes after sitting down we were presented with our entrees.

My guest’s choice was the steamed crab custard with sweet corn puree and crab herb salad. A light mix of subtle flavours and an interesting texture. The dish was rich and full of flavour, and you would welcome a reorder

The terrine of quail and proscuitto with puy lentils and a truffled peach and parsley salad with aged balsamic was my choice and while it had some enjoyable flavours and the texture a delight, I felt that it could have enjoyed a little more seasoning to add the defining spunk to the dish. All entrées are $15.90

Our main courses arrived about 10 or 15 minutes after our plates were cleared.

The atmosphere was relaxed and I didn’t feel rushed in any way and it seemed an appropriate length of time between courses.

During this time our red wine was opened and we were asked if we would like to have the wine decanted, a request that we certainly took up.

Decanting the wine was a service that I didn’t expect and it showed that again the staff were involved in the restaurant.

For mains, my contact went for the lamb rib eye, with persian fetta, mashed potato, eggplant, peppers, olives and tomato jam. A dish that was cooked to perfection, the meat very tender and the complimenting array of vegetables and fetta were well matched. This was a well-liked dish that would have sealed any deal we were broaching, or won me that job I was casting for.

My choice was the honeyed smoked duck-breast with a crispy leg, mandarin pancakes and hoi sin sauce. I admit to being very fond of duck and this didn’t let me down, the duck was tender and full of flavour, no overbearing flavours, it was nearly perfect.

This meal required the Indo Chinese style of rolling the various pieces into the pancake with a touch of sauce. The process was simple enough not to ruin any delicate talk, though the self-conscious diner might prefer something a little less fiddly, if your meeting is a career maker.

We were presented with dessert menus after a suitable shot of time, and while plenty of the desserts were lining up, we preferred to enjoy the last of the red wine we had bought and a selection of Blue Cow cheeses were bought out.

Star Anise’s servings are not too big but if you have indulged in lunch before hand, even the most inviting desserts seem daunting.

It is fair to say, the cheese platter, did not include your family block of matured cheddar. The three cheeses were well selected and the staff didn’t mind us staying to finish our wine.

I would suggest booking. The restaurant is generally busy and the outside porch area which caters for announced arrivals can be cool on all but the balmiest of evenings.

The restaurant is open Tuesday - Saturday 6.30pm till late.

I would happily recommend the Star Anise.

Other possibilities;

Altos

424 Hay Street

Subiaco 9382 3292



Campo de’Fiori

22 Kearnes Crescent

Ardross 9316 3600

Jackson’s Restaurant

483 Beaufort Street

Highgate 9328 1177

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