Opus at the Richardson – degustation review


OPUS AT THE RICHARDSON
http://www.therichardson.com.au/
32 Richardson Street, West Perth WA
Tel: 08 9217 8888
Open for breakfast and dinner daily.

Opus at The Richardson on Urbanspoon

Recently I had the opportunity to dine at Opus at The Richardson for a celebratory dinner organised by my husband’s work (I had to go along and act like a good little wifey wife). Many moons ago my husband and I had partaken the culinary delights to be had at Opus soon after its opening so were keen to go back and see how it has fared.

On arrival at this fine dining establishment, located in West Perth, we were welcomed warmly and shown to the bar where we were to have a pre-dinner drink with our dining companions to be. Opus’ interior is dark and elegant, with the ambience sedate bordering on sombre – I was immediately overcome with the urge to speak in hushed tones and stand up a little straighter!

Sitting down on a comfy banquette in the stylish bar area our drink orders were taken post haste. I ordered a glass of Moet Imperial Brut Rose and my husband ordered a Corona with lime. It’s not very often that you see Moet Rose on offer by the glass and I had to refrain from clapping my hands with glee (I had to be on my best behaviour seeing as it was my husband’s work function). A glass of Moet Rose at Opus will set you back $42 (no that is not a typo!) and it is safe to say that I am very glad that we were not footing the bill that night!

After necking our aperitifs we were ushered to the private dining area which is positioned in a glass room at the rear of the restaurant. The discreet space and large square table was the perfect size for our dining party of 12. The table was set formally with more cutlery and glasses than I could get through in a week, complete with a floral centrepiece and printed personalised menus.

As I sat down and looked around me, something struck me as slightly unusual – the immaculately attired wait staff looked like they were all bordering on retirement age. I’m no ageist, but I am so used to seeing young university students or backpackers as wait staff (common for Perth eateries) that it drew my attention. To paint you a picture, our dedicated waitress bore a striking resemblance to “Von” from All Saints (if you don’t know who I’m talking about here is a link:  Von) But you know what, these gals really knew their role inside and out. “Von’s” only mistake of the night was forgetting my husband’s ordered pre-dinner drink (of which he snidely blamed on perhaps a case of Alzheimers, I thought maybe her hearing aid had been turned down). However, aside from that small blip Von was on her game, professional and efficient, but able to crack a few appropriately placed jokes here and there to keep the table at ease and on side.

Opus Degustation Menu with Matching Wines

Our degustation menu (pictured above) consisted of 6 courses complimented by an amuse bouche to start (turnip soup with bacon), a sorbet palate cleanser before the main dish, and hand made after dinner sweets (chocolate brownies and marshmallow).

Each course was paired with a wine to compliment, of which the general consensus was that it matched quite well. The lack of a Sommelier on hand to talk us through the wines and allow us to ask questions stood out as odd. As it was, Von poured and introduced the wines but I didn’t feel like she particularly knew much about what was on offer (but I could be wrong).

The courses arrived in front of each diner in unison, with wait times between courses spot on. The serving sizes were felicitous considering the amount of food one had to work through.

The food has a ‘modern Australian’ feel to it with a mostly French influence. Ingredients are fresh and the interesting food is cooked skilfully, with a certain level of flair given to the presentation.

I won’t bore you by dissecting each and every course, but I will touch on some highlights and lowlights.

Highlights

Terrine of Tomatoes, Morels, Goats Milk and Honey Pudding

A great way to start off the proceedings. This cold dish was flavourful, with the juiciness of the tomatoes exploding in your mouth. The pudding was silky smooth and had a pleasant light creamy flavour (although I didn’t detect much in the way of honey). My only criticism with this dish is that visually it was quite plain, and I think that serving it on a smaller plate may have assisted the dish to look less lonely and lost.

Roast Butternut Pumpkin Soup with Lemongrass and Blue Swimmer Crab

The pumpkin soup was deliciously creamy and hot with the lemongrass adding a welcome twist to an old favourite. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, your spoon reached the bottom of the bowl and plucked out some sweet juicy pieces of blue swimmer crab meat to send you in to raptures.

Lowlights

Crisp Smoked Pork Belly with Prawn and Scallop Sausage

This was the only real lowlight of the night for me, for three main reasons:

1. The Pork Belly was not ‘crisp’.
2. The smokiness was overpowering.
3. The pork was so tough that I struggled to cut through it so in the end just gave up.

The remaining dishes were well cooked and tasty, but I wouldn’t say they totally blew us away. I have to admit whenever I indulge in a degustation of this level, I can’t help but compare the food to that which we have experienced at Amuse (which is the ultimate Perth degustation), and whilst this food was exceedingly good, it still was not at the same level of Amuse.

I’ve displayed a few photos below of some more of the food we gorged ourselves on.


Pan Fried Ocean Trout (there was a fish option for main course instead of the beef which I chose)
Adelaide Hills Camembert, French Toast and Glace Pears – the french toast was perfection.
Bitter Chocolate Cream and Vanilla Marshmallows, Raspberry Gel and Licorice – those two blueberries were just begging to be landed in the cream to make eyeballs!
Summary

A formal yet pleasant atmosphere with professional and adept wait staff . The food is fresh, interesting and mostly executed and presented well.  This restaurant ticks all of the fine dining boxes but found it lacking that elusive wow factor.

For a degustation menu it was certainly value for money considering that each course was of an ample size and cooked with care. The wines were also of good quality and they weren’t stingy with the pours (which could explain my raging hangover the next day).

The degustation menu will set you back $120pp food only, $190pp with wine pairing, or $305pp (eek!) with premium wine.

Food: 9/10 – the Pork Belly was the only major hiccup in what was otherwise a great meal
Service: 9.5/10 – service was professional, but the addition of a Sommelier would be welcome (maybe they do have one and it was their night off?)
Ambience: 9/10 – sleek, elegant and formal but could be a bit too ‘stuffy’ for some
Final Score: 9/10 – in the words of my husband “it was great, it just wasn’t perfect. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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