Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published March 17th 2015
A small cafe/restaurant in Gingin with a gift shop
I have had a number of phone calls and e-mails over the years from people asking for my opinion and recommendation for a good restaurant.
These are not the only calls I get - often someone will recommend a restaurant to me for a review because they had an enjoyable experience there.
Once I had a caller say 'You should review this place because it's so bad you'll enjoy writing it up.' I didn't try it because it had closed down before I could even think about it.
Gingin's central Park (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
My friend Steve has put me onto a few good restaurants so when he recommended CU@Park in Gingin, I was happy to try them, which I did on a warm and sunny Sunday.
Gingin is a small agricultural town of considerable charm. Right in the middle is a large and lovely green park with a river, huge shady trees, ducks and a waterwheel.
At the edge of the park is a cafe/restaurant overlooking the park with seating inside and out under natural shade or a roofed area.
One orders at the counter and pays beforehand and a server brings your food to your table. CU@Park is licensed and I had a glass of very nice crisp fruity white with my meal - perfect for a warm afternoon.
The menu is very large and elaborate for what is essentially a burger joint - CU@Park being famous for their burgers and chips.
There are seven entrees from the simple (Garlic Cheesy Bread - $8) to the extravagant (Oysters Your Way - 6 $18, 12 $32). I chose the tempting 'Almond Crusted Prawns' as an entree size ($18.50).
These came skewered in a light tempura batter, rolled in slivered almonds, deep fried and served on a really fresh green salad dressed with Chef Maria's own home-made dressing and a pot of honey and sweet chilli sauce. Delicious. The prawns had their tails on, which I usually dislike, but the shells were cooked and very edible. An excellent dish.
CU@Park's prawns (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
For my main I eschewed the 'famous burger' and chose one of the ten mains, one of which was a Carpet Bag Steak (stuffed with oysters) ($35) such as I haven't seen on a menu in decades - an old friend.
My ultimate selection of 'Lamb Cutlets drizzled with local honey and mint dressing' ($34) was a large portion of four cutlets on the same green salad, but with a different, but just as good, dressing.
There was also a pot of potato salad a little bit different - both Nadine and sweet potato in a seeded mustard herb mayonnaise - that was delicious. It was not something I had experienced before, but I will be trying to reproduce it myself.
Lamb chops at CU@Park (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
The lamb was rather on the medium side for my taste, which tends more towards the rare, but it was local, very flavoursome and tender.
I could have had The BIG Seafood Basket ($33.50) or the Chicken Neptune ($31.50) - chicken stuffed with seafood, wrapped in bacon and served in a white wine sauce; Sirloin steak ($29.50 plus $5.50 if you would like a medley of seafood with it) or snapper, grilled or beer battered ($25.50)
The gift shop at CU@Park (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
If you are accompanied by the family, and the restaurant is very family friendly, there are two childrens' menus, called 'Ratbags' ($12 including a cordial and ice cream for the ten and under) and 'Attitudes!!' ($16.50 including a soft drink for the ten and over) If you're aged ten, I guess you get to choose being a Ratbag or having Attitude!
For sweet I chose a slice of lemon meringue pie, made locally, from the cabinet of temptation - beautifully presented, as indeed were all the dishes. The pie was very sweet, with little of the sharp lemon zing but the meringue was nicely browned.
CU@Park's Lemon Meringue Pie (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Accompanied by a large coffee, that completed my lunch, which I followed with a browse around the gift shop attached, which offers shabby chic, objects d'art, paintings and prints; then a wander through the park, which is delightful.
Next time, I'll try the burger and chips ($18.70) and bring something to feed the ducks.