It wasn't so long ago that Great Eastern Highway was little more than an extended industrial area where you could stop and buy a giant tractor on the way to the airport. But over the last few years, luxury residential and hotel apartment blocks have been springing up, taking advantage of the beautiful views over the Swan River.
One such place is Ascot Quays which provides conference facilities and one, two and three bedroom apartments. It also features 150 East Bar and Kitchen, an all-embracing restaurant which offers daily breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a fully equipped bar providing cocktails, beer on tap plus a range of wines by the glass. The bar also has daily happy hour (5-6pm) and live music on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Although open since 2003, a recent refurbishment and new chef means there are now three main spaces within 150 East, each with their own distinct personalities. The inside restaurant is glamourous and luxurious with high backed wing chairs, glittering chandeliers, pinstriped carpet and the elegant bar.
The romantic restaurant
Move through to the conservatory, and you will find a more casual space with wooden floors, unadorned wooden tables and chairs, and floor to ceiling glass windows on two sides which open up in the warmer months to provide an uninterrupted view over the parklands and river.
The final space is the outdoor deck and lower grassed areas. Lit overheard from strings of fairy lights, with high bar stools and bright seating, it is the perfect space for evening drinks and meals in the balmy summer months. I am envious of anyone who lives locally and would be able to enjoy a relaxing lunch or late afternoon drinks in the beautiful grounds.
The menu is Modern Australian, and it recently won a nod from Dimmi for its top-rated menu as well as a gong for best views. It's easy to forget that the bustle of the highway is behind you when staring out at the relaxing river.
There are a number of share plates and starter options including a platter with pumpkin and feta arancini, house-made pork and veal sausage rolls and polenta chips with blue cheese sauce ($22). Each of the dishes are also available on their own, or you can start with oysters, chicken liver parfait or five spice squid.
We were a group of three, one of whom was gluten-intolerant. Not only were all the GF (and vegetarian and healthy choice) options clearly marked on the menu, but there were plenty of choices for her. However, there was only one main option for vegetarians: an asparagus, pea, leek and pecorino risotto ($23.50) although there are a number of vegetarian options in the starter and side menus, such as a roast pumpkin and sweet potato soup ($9) or mixed mushroom and pecorino bruschetta ($12).
We started with a share plate of chorizo, olives, feta and sourdough ($18). It was a generous serve, and the bread came with a bowl of balsamic and EVOO for dipping.
For mains, we had a choice of ten dishes, plus six sides (salads, chips and vegetables). There is even a separate kids menu, four options each costing $12.
I ordered the confit pork belly with prawns, tomato and white bean cassoulet and salsa verde ($29.50). It was the smallest of the three mains and while the pork belly could have had a bit more of the fat rendered out, it had a lovely crispy skin, and was a tasty dish with a combination of flavours you would not normally expect.
We also had the chef's signature dish of crispy skin salmon, cauliflower puree, spring veggies and toasted almonds ($29.50). It's an oldie but a goodie, well cooked and generous in size.
The beef burger with Swiss cheese, bacon, relish, chips and aioli ($24) came with the largest serving of chips I had ever seen – the burger was tasty and so big my friend couldn't finish it.
A theme perhaps – these are big-appetite friendly meals. Definitely a few steps beyond pub grub, this is an unpretentious and approachable menu, with lots of classics each with their own twist.
Despite having to loosen waistbands after our starters and dinners, we still managed to find room for dessert. I'm a sucker for crème brulee and rarely resist it when I see it on the menu.
While I am admittedly a stickler for leaving classics alone, the 150 East version was made with aromatic lavender and honey, and came with crunchy almond biscotti, a welcome foil to the richness of the cream.
The chocolate silken tart with hazelnut crumb and raspberry gelato looked like a million dollars. It also looked incredibly rich, but was fortunately light and easy to finish.
Service at 150 East was friendly and helpful – it was no issue at all for the waitress to run back and forth to the kitchen to ensure that dishes were in fact, gluten free as required. When small mistakes were made, they were easily fixed.
Relaxing views over the Swan River
So the next time you are searching for a restaurant with good food and exceptional views, forget the beach and high-rise city options, and consider the relaxing vibe of a river-side meal. Ascot Quays is less than ten minutes from the city, and easy to find with lots of free, onsite parking.