What originally started as a pop-up in September 2020 and then extended to November due to its overwhelming popularity, seems to be sticking around a while longer – Ten Acre Block, Australia's first degustation, plant-based restaurant. Think you can't make friends with salad? Executive chef Alejandro Saravia and his team can!
I am not a vegan but I love vegetable based dishes. I love the idea of supporting local producers and cooking what is in season – of celebrating the bounty of our soil.
I wish more restaurants would hero the humble veggie and Ten Acre Block does this in spades (see what I did there?).
Ten Acre Block is located on the ground floor of the Pan Pacific Hotel in Perth's CBD. It is only open four nights a week and only offers a single menu – a five course degustation made from locally sourced ingredients.
I visited with six friends in early March and got to enjoy the summer menu. Advertised as a five-course menu ($69), when you add in the palate cleanser and selection of petite fours, you're really getting seven and all but the biggest eaters will be sated by the end of the meal.
In addition to their vegan meals, the drinks menu is also vegan – from the plant-based cocktails ($18) and mocktails ($14) to the specially curated vegan wine list.
The first course Treats from the Patch was served in bamboo steamer baskets, although it was a cold dish. On a large nasturtium leaf lay a disk of golden beetroot and pickled green mangoes with a dressing made from rocket and wasabi. It was designed to be eaten with your fingers and it was a fun way to start the night as we rolled the leaves and tried not to be the one person who let all the filling dribble out onto their plate. That was me.
The next course Pickers Delight was also cold, a strawberry gazpacho served with charred peppers, heirloom tomatoes and toasted macadamias. Gazpacho is a Spanish soup, more traditionally made with tomatoes, but this strawberry version was intense yet refreshing. The peppers were almost sweeter than the strawberry and the semi-dried sorrel leaves added a lovely sour note. It was super pretty too.
We then moved to the first of the hot dishes, Sun is Shining an oyster mushroom and pea fricassee (stew) with bread crumbs, slivers of lemon, and a rich carotene butter sauce. But not actual butter, of course. This may not have been the most beautiful of the dishes but it was possibly the tastiest. This is saying a lot - each course I debated between trying to eat slowly to make it last or just shovelling it in because it was so delicious. Decisions decisions.
Our palate cleanser arrived next – it looked like beetroot juice, but was hibiscus kombucha – made in-house of course.
My favourite - the humble mushroom and pea made worldclass
Autumn Landscape arrived next and made me change my opinion of the humble cabbage. A large wedge of smoked red cabbage was served alongside kohlrabi curls, and a large fried cabbage leaf which concealed the best hollandaise sauce I have probably ever had.
After a bit of googling today trying to determine how one could make this iconic dressing without the benefit of eggs, the reason why it was so delicious became clear – cashews!
Minds-blown, we all asked for spoons so we could get every last drop of the delicious shiitake dashi sauce that accompanied the dish.
The dessert course At Last came out concurrently with plates of petite fours although I would have preferred to have the petite fours separately. Visually striking, the dish consisted of a glazed fresh fig, a raspberry sorbet, and a namelaka – from the Japanese word meaning 'smooth and creamy'. This was presented as perfect cylinder and made from coconut yoghurt. The bowl was dusted with crushed pistachio and spiced oats, almost like a muesli. Spectacular.
Everyone received three petite fours – I gobbled mine before I remembered to take a picture – a pistachio and semolina cube, a peanut butter and cocoa ball and a lychee jelly made deliciously tart thanks to a liberal dusting of (I'm guessing) citric acid. Hilarious for my friend who gobbled the whole thing without expecting it.
The dessert was a spectacular way to end the night.
You certainly don't need to be vegan to enjoy Ten Acre Block, in fact I think the people who will gain the most are those who don't tend to enjoy vegetables, or who think they are boring.
Perhaps if the only veggie dishes you see in restaurants are chips, steamed greens or garden salad it is time to venture out and see what can happen to the humble veg when in the hands of five-star chefs. Steak? Steak who? You will have forgotten all about meat after enjoying a meal at Ten Acre Block.
Service was friendly and knowledgeable and we were able to split the bill at the end of the night. The room itself is attractive, if a little noisy (the sports bar is next door) and dark (sorry for the sub-par photos). Each booking includes free onsite parking for one vehicle - just ask your waiter to validate your parking.