print hall dining room
by Mei Leong
Print Hall’s bar
It’d be hard not to be impressed by Print Hall. Its high ceilings, long bar with old world neon signs (‘Jerry’s Oysters Here’) and interior greenery has nudged the CBD into a league of sophistication. It’s a popular spot for after work drinks, even on a weeknight. Between the many bodies and the dark lighting, we almost couldn’t find the dining room!
But there it was, slotted into the back of the hall and cordoned off from the masses. The dining room is simply and tastefully furnished with marble tables and shelves of wine. At the far end, there’s an all important, vicarious glimpse of the kitchen.
Blue manna crab jelly with salmon roe and seaweed. A gorgeous dish.
We don’t say this often enough in Perth, but the service from start to finish was impeccable. From the initial meet and greet, picking up dropped napkins (and giving a freshly laundered one in return) to answering questions gracefully and timely food service, the service was faultless.
(Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more!)
Traditional pork pie deconstructed (kind of) with fennel seed and pickle.
Most of the starters are cold, so they arrive fairly quickly sating any immediate hunger (a smart move on the restaurant’s part). Though it was deconstructed, the ‘traditional’ pork pie did indeed taste traditional, complete with a swift kick of fennel and pepper and suet pastry. I really liked the bite-y, resistant texture of the pork. The chunks of pork seemed to fall apart as the gelatine slowly melted away in the mouth.
The pie and pickle where definitely made to be eaten together, as the crisp baby vegetables – carrots and turnips – were fresh and crunchy but very, very acidic. It cut through the richness of the pork giving balance to the dish. With little mushrooms adding to the illusion of a little English garden on a plate, it’s one of the most beautiful dishes I’ve ever eaten.
The blue manna crab starter was a jellied mound of picked crab flesh surrounded by micro herbs, tomatoes and little piles of salmon roe. Like the pork pie, it’s a good looking dish, if not looking somewhat like a bouquet (somehow micro herbs pretties everything up!). The blue manna crab (which can be tasteless) was extremely sweet and in large chunky pieces. From the one bite I had from this dish, it was fresh, slightly salty and slippery. One for the seafood lovers.
Left: Seared king prawns with serrano ham, orange and Fremantle octopus. Didn’t taste this dish but it came back with good reports. Right: Jellied blue manna crab starter.
Cape Naturaliste rib eye on the bone from the wood fire grill.
I daresay this rib eye is better value than Rockpool’s. At $58, it’s rather good value. You get a delectable baked bone marrow (with a creamy, fatty interior – yum!), a parsley salad and that gorgeous, rib eye steak (with an origin indicated, as is the fashion these days).
Aged well, the meat had a wholesome, umami flavour, accentuated further by the wood fire grill. The grill lightly smokes the meat, so the marbled beef fat tastes smoky, caramelised and just plain old amazing. Steak lovers, if you can tear yourself from Print Hall’s other worthy mains, you won’t be disappointed.
Duck cassoulet with a croquette (or cromesqui on the menu), pork sausage and white beans.
The duck cassoulet, was (like the pie) a deconstructed version (I’m detecting a theme here). When our orders were taken, the waiter gave the option of cooking it a little extra over medium rare and to my Mum’s relief, it came out exactly so. Firm, velvety and well seasoned, the duck was gamey – just how we like it!
There’s lots of texture in this one dish – softness from the beans, two types of meat and crunchiness from the croquette, a tribute to the toasted breadcrumb topping of a traditional cassoulet. (It’s not a cassoulet without the breadcrumbs, or so I’ve heard.)
Smoked ocean trout, raw oyster, shallots and pumpernickel crumb.
Cold smoked then gently cooked sous vide style, the centre of the ocean trout was soft, falling apart at its fatty seams at the mere touch of a fork. The fish was a classic pairing with the bitter, seedy pumpernickel crumble, though the salty fish skin came as a surprise. The oiliness and rawness of the fish and the oyster were made even more intense by this piece of salty fish leather.
It sounds weird but the whole lot was actually very good, especially with the lemon yogurt. The flavours were gutsy, almost confronting but not repulsively so. (If that makes any sense.) If anything, fine dining should challenge our tastebuds (not just our wallets!) and this dish achieved just that.
We skipped dessert. Bah. (Surely a good excuse for another visit…)
There was one niggle that became very obvious by dinner’s end – the height of the table. The table, at least the one we were seated, was a tad too short. Looking around, quite a few fellow diners seemed to be hunched over and by the end of the meal, I just wanted to stretch up and go. I’m not that tall and even Mum remarked on the uncomfortable seating experience. Hopefully they’ve fixed it.
Anyway, let’s count the positives, shall we? And there’s quite a few of them. There’s the impeccable service. There’s the beautiful, well executed food from the interesting menu. It’s also pretty good value for fine dining in Perth (mains are around the $40 to $50 mark). Plus it’s inside an iconic building. What more could we ask for.
By the way, if you are in the company of someone-who-only-eats-chicken (don’t laugh, they do exist), well, there is often no chicken on the menu. Just letting you know.
Wallet allowing, I hope to be back!
Print Hall Dining Room
Brookfield Place, 125 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000
T: (08) 6282 0000
Mon – Fri 11.30am – 12 midnight, Sat 4pm – 12 midnight, closed Sundays
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