Taking care of business

A long time ago in a “Mediterranean” restaurant the concept of the long lunch was perfected - and subsequently destroyed. Bless the closing down of that restaurant, bringing back a productive five-day working week.

Only on very rare occasions nowadays do those four and a half day weeks return to our remote shores.

We all know that wining and dining established and prospective clients is not a new concept, but it seems that lately the way meetings and schmoozing are conducted has taken on a new ethic.

Time is almost as important in the current buzz of working life as money!

These days it is just as often a productive coffee meeting as a new business day dawns.

So, while the “power lunch” and long, boozy lunch are a little passé, lunch is still an important business tool.

With that in mind we visited e cucina restaurant in the surrounds of the densely populated Central Park building.

As downtown as you can get in Perth, e cucina seemed like the ideal trial pigeon, so to speak.

Wednesday, 3rd January at 1pm. Table for two. We hadn’t made a booking and the restaurant was relatively full. In the future I would be inclined to reserve a table in advance, especially on Fridays.

We were seated at a table in the undercover area at the front of the restaurant.

The day was mild, but be warned, if it is hot you want to be inside with the aircon.

Our waitress, Belinda, left us in peace while we acquainted ourselves with the surroundings and looked over the menu and wine list.

Simple eye contact was all she needed to zoom in and attend to our needs.

We arrived at 1pm and within 15 minutes wine, starters and mains were ordered and our quest had begun in earnest.

Our drinks order was dealt with swiftly and we had not long descended into the delights of the Lenton Brae semillon sauvignon blanc 2000 when our entrées arrived.

My colleague began with seared scallops, with watercress, potato salad and pancetta, with sweet mustard dressing and I chose chorizo sausage with lemon and white-bean dip.

The scallops were very tender and the salad had plenty of flavour.

This is an appealing dish but an extra bit of tangy zest to the dressing would have made this perfect.

The chorizo sausage was, for my taste, a little on the mild side and needed some spice to the sausage to complement the delights of the white-bean dip.

As our main courses arrived the time approached 1.45pm.

We had dithered over entrées, still in the summer holiday mode, but most around our table were already settling into coffee or were beginning to hit the high road.

The menu seems to offer something for everyone, with diners around us showing the full evolutionary course of eating patterns.

To our right, one gentleman hopped into a big dish of potatoes with a rich sauce while he appeared to be briefing one of his engineers on his next mission.

In contrast, to our left two casually dressed businessmen preferred to graze on salads, an act which would have been unseemly a few years ago.

I had asked our waitress to select a glass of red that would complement the main dish I had ordered, panfried lamb loin with roasted peppers; chickpeas, artichoke and a mint gremolata. I was impressed with her choice of Rosabrook cabernet merlot 1998.

My colleague settled on the risotto of the day which was prosciutto, green beans and goats cheese.

Both dishes had terrific flavours and healthy portions.

The flavour of the goats cheese complemented the risotto which although quite sound was a touch stodgy.

The lamb was somewhat over done for my hungry little belly and could have been presented with just a touch more spring in its loin.

2.20pm and the restaurant had only a scattering of diners, most were malingers like ourselves, with the real business types back up in their offices, rebooting their laptops.

A teeming restaurant in full swing a little over 40 minutes before was now setting up for afternoon coffees and dinner trade.

Staff were highly attentive and not intrusive, they were knowledgeable and friendly, encouraging you to return. e cucina provided everything that we deemed important for those with business to do and a schedule to keep.

For those looking for alternative business lunch venues within a stone’s throw of Central Park, why not investigate:

CBD Restaurant & Bar

815 Hay Street

9263 1859

King Street Café

44 King Street

9321 4476

Balthazar Bar Restaurant

6 The Esplanade

9421 1206

Globe Wine Bar & Restaurant

Parmelia Hilton Hotel

Mill Street

9215 2421

C Restaurant (the old Hilite 33)

St Martins Tower

44 St Georges Terrace

9220 8333

Next week: We turn to food itself and take a look at Perth’s premium butchers.

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