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Lapping up the riverside dining

FOR those who have traveled or lived overseas there is one thing that doesn’t change and that is coming back to Perth and being able to enjoy the spectacular and tranquil views along our coastline and the Swan River.

It is a blessing that neither location has been farmed, allowing you the benefits that places like the Gold Coast only dream of. Mind you sitting in Joe’s Bar and Grill overlooking the much-talked-of City of San Francisco was pretty special.

With that in mind I went in search of a river location to impress a visiting guest, not that I was taking a visiting guest but in a couple of months an old flame from my travelling days is heading into town and I thought it was worth being prepared.

There are a number of recommended restaurants along the river and some that are a little less obvious, yet offer quite stunning views, like Friends, in the Hyatt Centre, (with sublime tucker on offer) and others, like Coco’s, offering a little more that the view, especially on a Friday afternoon.

But the decision is a difficult one and I feel that I will need to do some more investigation if I am able to get back in the good books with this old flame.

My destination was Jo Jo’s, in Nedlands, which has all the hallmarks of being a great venue. Built alongside the old swimming baths, the restaurant has a boaty feel – it’s close to the water, it has great views of the Swan River, and it is close to a pub if things don’t work out.

Besides that my old flame will not have tasted the best seafood in the world. By heck those Poms can’t even get sheep right these days.

So I headed out to investigate Jo Jo’s with another old friend of mine who considers himself something guru of seafood.

Being an old surfer from way back, the only seafood not to go past his lips is shark, for good reason. So I felt I was in good hands.

We visited on a Wednesday night and the restaurant was very busy with a cross-section of clientele from the romantic couples (good sign) and families out on a special occasion to a pool of businessmen whittling away expense accounts.

On arrival we were offered a drink at the bar, which for many of the business types would be a good introduction to the evening. We were promptly attended to with a couple of icy-cold lagers.

On getting towards the end of our drinks we were shown to our table which was on the western side of the restaurant. If you are going for a special occasion it would be best to request a table overlooking the city. After being seated we were left to navigate the menu and wine list.

The wine list (you know I am a wine snob) offers the usual suspects and a good selection of Western Australian reds and whites. The wine listed by the glass showed little imagination but all are sound wines. We chose the Cape Mentelle Semillon Sauvignon Blanc. I did feel for a young waitress at another table who stumbled over the opening of a bottle of Chardonnay, unable to budge the cork. While some corks are stubborn there are good and bad ways of opening wine and I have never found someone struggling with a cork an attractive sight.

I know that we were in a seafood restaurant, but the thought of White Rocks veal carpaccio, with tomato pudding with rocket leaves, shaved parmesan and extra virgin olive oil was too tempting to pass up.

The other starter was grilled Kyalla yabbies, with char siew and shitake mushroom omelette, lime and coriander dressing. The veal could have been entertained with a little more seasoning and the yabbies although tasty were a tad on the lean side.

Our main meals followed the starters with enough time to sit back and examine the other options for wining and dining while showing off our fair city.

Within walking distance is the Matilda Bay Restaurant which offers stunning views and, from all reports, and fantastic food. A little further around multanova corner is Frasers and you would never discount this option, Chris Taylor and his troops offer one of Perth’s dining pleasures.

If you head downstream, you would first have to call in for an oyster or a dozen at Mr Mead’s another of the quintessential dinning experiences, (I had the best piece of veal I can remember at Mead’s some 12 months ago) before departing past a number of other venues and disembarking at the Red Herring, at which I have enjoyed the temptations of lunch a few times but never dinner.

The two main courses arrived – pan-fried Mount Barker chicken and scallop sausage, crispy pancetta, creamy spring onion sauce. The other was fresh off the boat – char-grilled swordfish with a spring onion sauce and dressed rocket leaves. A fresher piece of swordfish you would not have had in Perth that night, however, the old surfer found its accompaniments a little lacking. The scallop sausage was very rich, yet tender. I found the combination a little confusing.

With the businessmen around us settling in for a while longer and the romantic couple already departed, the old surfer and I made tracks.

The service at the restaurant was attentive and not obtrusive, most of the staff seemed a little raw but helpful, it was a relaxed and inviting atmosphere and seemed a perfect place to unwind with business colleagues.

As for the quest for the ultimate dinning experience with my old flame, I feel more homework is required and feel it only fair to investigate another of my options before dropping the anchor.

Other riverside venues to tempt:

Matilda Bay Restaurant,

3 Hackett Drive,

Crawley, 9423 5000.



Mead’s Mosman Bay,

15 Johnson Parade,

Mosman Park,

9383 3388.



Friends Restaurant,

Hyatt Centre, 20 Terrace Road,

East Perth, 9221 0885.



The Red Herring,

26 Riverside Road,

East Fremantle, 9339 1611.



Fraser’s Restaurant,

Frasers Avenue,

Kings Park, West Perth, 9481 7100.

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