A taste of Western Australia's finest in Claremont.
Claremont, in Perth's Western suburbs, continues to go from strength to strength since the opening of the Claremont Quarter shopping centre and the revamp of Time Square with new shops, bars and restaurants popping up as frequently as a jack in a box. And the best thing is they are nearly all good - so it's definitely worth a look-see if you're heading to Perth anytime soon.
Beluga, the newest addition to Claremont's dining scene sets a trend of top notch everything from the moment you walk in, with careful and informal service, fresh seasonally driven food, and an effortless buzz to the place, even mid-week.
Head chef Chris Cheong (Must Winebar) and his team are 100 per cent committed to supporting Australian, and largely Western Australian, producers and it comes through in leaps and bounds here. The menu at Beluga is a well constructed ode to fresh seasonal produce with the provenance of each major ingredient highlighted for all to see - from the bread (New Norcia), to the pork (Linley Valley), the shell scallop ceviche (Rottnest), or prawns (Exmouth).
And thankfully the menu doesn't only perform on paper. Order a la carte or hand the reigns over to the chef for a selection of entrees and mains as per the day's specials (~$65-$70 per person) as we did, and you will be sure to be in for a treat. The meal began with caramalised figs with camembert and shaved prosciutto, followed by kingfish carpaccio with a lime and chilli dressing, and salmon and potato croquettes with a chunky aromatic salsa verde. All presented and explained by the waitstaff so we knew exactly what we were eating, where it came from and how it was prepared.
Portion sizes are surprising substantial so, to be honest, dinner could have stopped there but once mains arrived, we were very glad it didn't.
Beluga's signature Greek roasted banjo dorper lamb shoulder was slow-cooked to perfection then crisped up in the oven. The meat fell away from the bone. The only gripe would be the citrus dressing laden with finely grated rind which was perhaps a bit tart for the succulent meat. But really, it's a minor quibble.
Gnocchi stuffed with mushrooms and flavoured with truffle oil were soft delicate parcels of earthy goodness that combined beautifully with the lamb, and a light green salad simply dressed with lemon and olive oil was an ideal palate cleanser.
With all the will in the world we couldn't finish the mains and desserts will have to wait for next time. But there will be a next time, and my bet would be on it being some time very soon.
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