Matilda Bay Restaurant in Crawley is one of those special places in Perth where, if the gods are smiling, you might gaze out the window and see dolphins frolicking in the river immediately outside.
We weren't lucky enough to see dolphins on our latest visit to this iconic restaurant, but it didn't matter. We had a great group of friends, some excellent food and a fabulous night. Even accidentally breaking one of the delicate wine glasses didn't raise an eyebrow of the staff, although we did get a small golf clap from the other diners.
Dinner at Matilda Bay is not cheap. The five of us shared two bread baskets ($6.50 each), three side dishes (three for $27), and each had a main (approx. $40) and a dessert ($18). Together with some water for the table and coffees, the bill came to almost $450.
But the food is excellent, the bread delicious and the desserts had us scraping the plates with almost feverish passion. There is a winter set-menu available ($85pp) as well as the al la carte options. In addition to the restaurant, the 'Bubbles' bar is open all day, and has a variety of wines and champagnes available by the glass.
The restaurant was at capacity on the Saturday night we descended on it. A wedding reception was in full swing in the private rooms adjoining the restaurant and there was a definite feeling of happiness in the dining room. That could have just been our table, five friends who enjoy a laugh, but some restaurants leave the distinct impression that anything above a whisper will be frowned upon – and Matilda Bay was not one of those. The lights were dimmed a bit too much by 7pm and the rakish angle of the cutlery on the table was a little annoying but there was little else to fault.
The bread basket (which was missing the basket) consists of four different types of loaf including a pumpkin seed and a mini baguette. While it is ostensibly served with Wulura olive oil, they did not mind providing us with French butter, which is served with the wholemeal onion bread (also $6.50).
This is one of those restaurants where carnivores are taken very good care of, but vegetarians may feel a little overwhelmed. This is not to say there are not any vegetarian dishes available, just that there is a lot of meat. For real connoisseurs they even helpfully provide a picture of a cow neatly divided into sections, so you can just point to the bit you like best. Neat!
Salt and Pepper squid with lychee, fennel and rocket salad
Desserts are expensive at $18, but every one of us cleaned our plates, and I suspect if we had been somewhere a little less flash, we may have resorted to scooping up the rest of the sauces with our fingers. My dish of crepes filled with ricotta, served with Grand Marnier soaked sultanas, clotted cream, and two fresh orange segments may have been straight out of the 70s, but it was delicious. The chocolate hazelnut tart drew jealous sighs, but no one was disappointed with their choice.