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 November 11th 2014
Who knew apples could be so versatile?
Regular readers will recall that I visited the Core Cider House for their October Spring Fest.
While there sampling their excellent ciders I vowed to return for their restaurant area.
I have quite a lot to say about the food so I'm just going to say read that review, throw in a glorious day and let's get to the food.
The view from the dining balcony (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
The day we took lunch was only the second day of Chef Duane's new spring menu, but I have to say it showed absolutely no sign of being tentative or under-rehearsed.
Chef Duane looks to my aged eyes about twelve, but he's a married man with a baby on the way and what seems to be thirty years experience, given the innovation and assurance of his food.
At least one dish was an absolute revelation to me, I have never tasted anything quite like it, imaginative, impressive and delicious.
The menu is an unusual one in that the dishes are designed each for two people. A small range, but wonderfully inventive.
For example, to start we begain our feast with a 'The Ciderman Returns' ($41.50), presumably Core's version of a 'Ploughman's Lunch', although no ploughman I ever met would have eaten so well.
The dish, served on an elegant and beautiful black slate plate has shaved ham, breascola (smoked beef), salami, pickled cucumber (crisp, sweet and tart at the same time), French onion dip, dressed with a chili and mustard seed sauce and served with Parmesan cheese flat bread.
The Ciderman Returns (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
It was delicious with the various flavours and ingredients melding and contasting into one glorious whole.
We saw various other entrees going by and the Pork and Cider terrine with boiled egg, salsa of capers and Turkish bread ($22.50) looked like a good second choice. Or perhaps the Baldivis Rabbit and Fig Pate ($22.50) with pickled carrot and the fixings.
One of the dishes on offer as an entrée was, oddly, a cheese platter, although you can have it at the end of the meal, naturally.
Cheese Board (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
The level of service was as professional as I have ever experienced in WA and easily up to the great tourism centres in the Eastern States, where they understand the importance of good service to the over-all enjoyment of the exerience. Our server was a vivacious lass called Elje and she made us feel welcome, special and cared for. She was also incredibly efficent as, indeed, was all the service we observed.
She recommended, as a main, The CORE ($57) for two, a simple, brilliantly effective dish of a shoulder of pork, slow cooked, pressed and served with crushed new potatoes and a sauce of passing brilliance, Chef's own invention, I understand, of a base of Hollandaise with the addition of cider, jalapenos, mozzarella and fresh parsley.
The Core (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Fried battered red onion rings topped the dish with a quizzical accent.
I cannot readily recall eating a dish so imaginative in flavour, brilliant in conception and immaculate in delivery and I have eaten many, many times at The Loose Box. Comparisons are odious, but I am sure that even the great Chevalier Alain Fabregues himself would be proud to serve such a dish.
This is cuisine of the absolute haute-est and I urge you to try it.
Wedges and Sour Cream with Sweet Chilli Sauce (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
We had, as a side dish, Wedges with sour cream and chilli sauce ($12). Other mains included WA Cone Bay Barramundi ($36.50), Exmouth Prawns ($27) or Tomato Frittata ($20). A pretty good range of salads and extras round out a small but exceptional menu.
We rounded out our delectable meal with the Cheese Plate ($32) - Capel club cheddar, Arigoni gorgonzola, Picolin fromage de chevre, Core fig jam, fresh fruit, water crackers, brandied walnut date crumble and apple crisps, followed by excellent coffee.
The apple crisps were wafer thin and just melted in the mouth, leaving a taste of summer.
The inclusion of gorgonzola instead of Blue Castello or Stilton was a wise one, as its creaminess works wonderfully well with the home-made fig jam.
The balance of tastes both within the dishes and between the dishes is masterly and shows the sure touch of a craftsman who loves food.
We drank the house wine - cider, as it happens - and that works well, too. I found the Core Meltdown and the sparkling cider the best for me. The sparkling has just won a major award - they won their category of "Bottle Conditioned / Methode Champenoise Cider" with the CORE-RUPT-ED Methode Champenoise Cider.
Core-rupt-ed Sparling Cider (Photograph courtesy of Core Cider House)