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 September 7th 2012
Romantic name, great food
One of the many things I find fascinating about restaurants is the choice of names - one thinks of Friends, Dear Friends, The Rumbling Tum, The Taming of the Stew and so on and so forth.
Here in the Swan Valley we don't have such exotic names, but we do have the intriguingly named Penny Garden.
It seems such a 60's name - almost a Beetle's song title, but it has a more mundane origin. When the owners were preparing to open, they were laying out the garden and found an Australian penny - hence the romantic name.
The restaurant itself is less romantic than strictly business - the business of good food. The decor is simple, but welcoming with a view over a large pond with wild ducks and geese. Not that we could see it the night we dined, en famille, as it was cold with pouring rain and a vicious wind outside. Perfect staying inside with comforting food weather.
The menu is fairly varied, with a tendency towards family comfort food with flair.
James began, as he usually does when there's the option, with Bruschetta, a handsome portion with beautifully fresh feta cheese and garlicky bread. Angela, more conventionally went for the chicken soup - rich, deeply flavourful and with a variety of vegetables.
I, feeling the need for a healthy entree, tried the salmon cakes - three of them - very, very good indeed with an absolutely delicious aioli, redolent with garlic and sharply tasty with the patties.
Angela's main was an entree-sized portion of the tasting plate (see right) delicious warm Turkish bread and a variety of nibbles suitable for dipping into - the extra virgin olive oil was particularly good and the chorizo was spicy but not in the slightest bit oily - excellent quality. Dips included Beetroot, Cajun Bacon and honey roasted pumpkin and fetta.
James picked the pie and mash for a main course - no surprise there, but don't be fooled by the bland and simple name - it disguises a exceedingly subtle dish with impressive puff pastry lid.
My own main course was tender scaloppini of fillet of pork, beaten thin and filled with cream cheese and caramelised apple, rolled, baked and served with mashed Royal Blue potatoes and a very superior red wine jus.
A handsome portion of two scaloppini made an excellent meal - so excellent that dessert was not an option, unfortunately.
However, owner Jasmine, allowed us to take a slice of made on the premises chocolate mousse cake away with us for later - it tasted exactly as good as it sounds.
We did have time for a outstanding coffee and left, replete, happy and immune to the rain's effect.
Dinner for three courses runs to about $40-$50 a head and wine is reasonably priced.