Chef Kiren Mainwaring is all about sustainable food and sourcing his food locally. He gave a very passionate talk about that at the Eat Drink Blog conference in 2013. I’d heard many great things about the fine diner that he runs with his wife Kellie, in East Perth. Chef and I have wanted to go for quite some time – and so he surprised me with a visit for our wedding anniversary recently.
We are greeted by a friendly waiter and seated in the contemporary dining room. I choose a local wine from Myattsfield in the Bickley Valley. Chef picks an Eagle Bay ale – a favourite of his. I’m almost surprised that chef picks beer over wine to accompany his degustation. Co Op has a classy feel – but it’s also relaxed and not at all stuffy, so a beer isn’t too out of place. There’s some good boutique brews available and local spirits too.
We start our epic ten course dego with freshly baked bread, which we spread with lashings of Guernsey butter.
There are two courses of finger food. The meat charcuterie is a trio of house made coppa, little skewers of chicken liver and bresaola on crunchy rye. It’s a mouth watering start and I really enjoy the tender chicken livers – something I wouldn’t usually go for.
I love the ‘From the sea’ course of Ama Ebi prawns, Confit Sardine and Mojama – a Mediterranean delicacy of filleted salt-cured tuna. Not only are these morsels delicious, but I’m also delighted to see chef eat a prawn – for what is probably the first time ever. He’s not usually a big fan – but he enjoyed these as they are super fresh. Our waiter asks us if we are finished, when he clears the plates – he gesturers for me to eat the prawn head. Hmmm, it’s not something I’d imagine I’d enjoy – but I’ll try anything once. The head was surprisingly ok. The texture is crunchy, but soft. I won’t be rushing out to eat a prawn head again, but it’s something I can tick off the list!
The delicate Manjimup marron dish is stunning. The flavours of chicken fat, avocado and pancetta work so very well together. I’m also surprised by the use of Geraldton Wax – a native flower that I didn’t realise is edible.
I’m a big fan of egg dishes – this free range confit egg yolk oozes through the crisp puffed basmati rice at the merest touch of my knife. I love the earthy flavours of the Swan Valley fungi and aubergine too.
Anthea’s Dorper Lamb is a fab little dish with interesting ingredients – Gosht spice, charcoal emulsion, cabbage, fried shallots and sunrise lime.
Different textures of butternut pumpkin with walnut and linseed is a hit. I absolutely love the use of the roasted onion skin, it’s flavour so more-ish. The dish is finished with sharp parmesan.
One of the courses that really knocks our socks off is the chicken & stinging nettle. It arrived at the table – a beautifully plated dish of root vegetables; carrot, beetroot and a cauliflower puree. Chef and I looked at each other, both assuming the same thing – that there was a roast potato in the centre. Comically, we soon discover that it is actually perfectly cooked chicken delicately wrapped in it’s own skin.
After a palate cleanser served as popsicles, we head toward something sweet. By this point of the evening, I’m paying less attention to the components of each dish and just simply enjoying chatting to Chef over some amazing food. A beautiful little dish – described on the menu as Kombucha, Rosella, Strawberry, honey, ginger has perfectly balanced flavours and delicate textures.
Mandarin segments, served with wonderfully rich dark chocolate and shiro and ginger work very well together too.
We finish the night with scrumptious house made petits fours.
Some people say that the dego is dead. We totally disagree. There will always be special occasions when you’d want to treat your someone special to a dinner to remember. With interesting ingredients, stunning flavours, spot on technique and a completely unpredictable menu – we’ll absolutely remember these ten courses for a long time to come!