I’d been told the course I was attending on Wednesday morning would include morning tea, but you never know how substantial morning tea will be at these things, which is why I had that big breakfast beforehand – plus I knew I’d be heading back to the office as quickly as possible after the course and depending on the state of things at work I might be too busy catching up and not really have time to have much lunch. As it turned out, the morning tea was pretty good – fruit kebabs (pineapple, watermelon and rockmelon), a selection of cookies and fancy sandwiches made with soft, soft bread with the crusts cut off, as well as tea, coffee and juice. I had a couple of those dainty sandwiches and a fruit kebab and didn’t end up needing to have lunch. I wanted to take photos of the morning tea, but this was an externally run course with lots of people and I didn’t want to have to explain myself.
I didn’t eat again until dinner time. By then I really felt growly, or as Jac would say, “Hungry enough to eat the crotch off a low flying duck” (ewwwwww!).
One of my workmates is leaving to move over East, and some of us went out for dinner together after work. We’d planned to go to the Subiaco Hotel, but as they could only fit our group out on the terrace and it’s been so cold lately, we went to the Ess Bar (531 Hay Street, Subiaco) instead, where we could sit indoors. This was the first time I’d ever been to the Ess Bar.
With a bit of suggestive selling from our waitress, we started the meal with a taste plate for six (AU$70.00) between the eight of us. The tastes change daily, and you can also order this for two for $25.00 or four for $50.00. The tastes on Wednesday evening were: calamari rings, grilled sausage, cevaps (full name cevapcicci, skinless Croatian sausage), spare ribs (a little dry, but great flavour), battered prawns, fetta, olive oil for dipping and oyster shooters. My favourite things on the platter were the calamari (tender), prawns (crispy batter on the outside, bursty prawns on the inside), the cevaps (flavoursome but not as overwhelmingly spicy as other cevaps I’ve had) and the grilled sliced sausage, which I just could not stop eating.
The taste plate from different angles – you can click on these pictures to see the larger versions, if you wish.
We also shared some toasted garlic cibatta bread (AU$7.00). This was lovely, and I especially enjoyed the shaved parmesan. Actually, they could’ve just served me a plate of shaved parmesan for half the price and I would’ve been thrilled, as I loooooove shaved parmesan. Powdered parmesan smells like baby vomit to me, but the shaved stuff is heavenly.
I had fun playing with my food, as you can see. L-R: sausage, calamari, prawn, toast, cevap. All good. I did eat many more items from the taste plate than this. I tried everything except the fetta and the oyster shooters. I don’t care for oysters, and am not a fan of tomato juice.
Here are the main courses we ate. Can you guess which one was mine?
Lamb shank (AU$18.90), braised and served with roasted root vegetables and mashed potato. The lamb shank was huge a la Flinstones Brontosaurus Leg. It had been braised well – meat came off the bones easily. The lamb smell was very strong. When I was a kid I even refused to eat lamb chops because of the lamb smell, even crumbed lamb chops! I can’t believe I missed out on all those lamb chops.
Prime sirloin (AU$29.o0) with wild peppercorn and bearnaise, served with baked potatoes. The eater found the steak to be cooked perfectly and beautifully tender, minimal knife pushing required.
Seafood risotto special of the day (AU$22.00) – the flavour was quite nice, but the rice was crunchy. That’s a fail for risotto, especially one served in a restaurant. Two people ordered this dish, and one had more seafood in hers than the other. Tut-tut.
King prawn risotto (AU$23.00) – an interesting combination with prawns, chilli jam, Italian sausage and fried shallots. The sausage was nice, but EVERYTHING tasted of sausage. The prawns still had their tails on – if I made a prawn risotto I’d take the tails off the prawns as I think you should be able to eat risotto just with a fork or a spoon and not have to worry about tails or bones or any inedible bits. There should be no fingers required, you know?
Red emperor (AU$34.00) described on the menu as coming with potato calcannon, prawn, crispy squid and bailinese Style caramelized eggplant. We googled colcannon and came up with an Irish potato dish similar to bubble and squeak. In this case, I think it was just a fancy name for roughly mashed potato! The fish was seemed to have a thin coating of batter on it, and was perhaps a little overcooked, but the eater of this dish thought the squid was lovely.
Oven roasted duck leg (AU$32.00), served with waterchestnut wantans and beetroot chutney. Thumbs up to the duck from the eater, who was regretfully a little full from the amazing taste plate.
Barramundi special (AU$32.00), served with broccolini and mashed potato, topped with grilled scallops and a sweet chutney-like sauce (both fish dishes came with the same chutney). The scallops were served with the coral on, which the eater immediately severed and left on the edge of the plate. The coral-less scallops were weeny but delicious. Do you guys like eating scallop coral? A discussion amongst some of my workmates revealed that we are not scallop coral eaters. The fish was grilled, crisp on one side and cooked perfectly throughout.
So: which dish do you think I chose, and how did you arrive at this conclusion? I actually personally sampled half of the dishes, not just my own. We’re a sharing sort of group. :)
Overall we did enjoy our evening. The tasting plate was fantastic. I’d quite happily eat at Ess Bar again (here’s where smartypants among you will say “HAH! You couldn’t have ordered the crunchy risotto then!”). Everyone was in good spirits and we had fun talking and telling silly stories. An “Oh shit” moment occurred for one of my workmates when she dropped our boss’ mobile phone into her glass of red wine. She wasn’t intoxicated or anything – she was just handing the phone over and slipped. I was sitting right next to her and heard the PLOP of the phone as it landed in the wine. The screen went blank (that probably was THE “Oh shit” moment). Interestingly, most of us have or know other people who have spilled drinks over laptops or put mobile phones through washing machines or dropped mobile phones in the toilet. We’re all klutzes and/or friends to klutzes, obviously! We told her: make sure the phone is switched off, open it up, get rid of any excess liquid and leave it to dry. Do not switch it back on until it is definitely completely dried out. One workmate shared her tip for speeding up the process of mobile phone resuscitation (in this case, resuscitation of mobile phone put through the washing machine TWICE) – drying it with a hairdryer. As a hairdryer was unavailable, the mobile phone parts were immediately whisked off to the Ladies loo, where they were subjected to intensive treatment under the hand dryer. It was a success! The phone is fine!
When the bill arrived, it included a mysterious single scoop of ice cream (none of us had dessert, and no, none of us had ice cream!), but they quickly took that off the bill when it was pointed out. However, speaking of ice cream, the evening ended with a visit to Baskin Robbins. Sorry, I didn’t take photos of the ice cream. I exhausted from my day of working and eating and I was fading fast by then.