Sunday, 29 July 2012

Red Cray Seafood & Grill Restaurant

Red Cray Seafood & Grill Restaurant on Urbanspoon
If you are lucky enough to encounter the species of humans that will still open the door for you upon your arrival or departure, you're very fortunate to witness the few remaining ones on this earth (or at least this corner of it).

The charming, polite and welcoming breed of waitstaff are approaching extinction.
Or, have yet to come, in case you are of the optimistic kind.

And thus being treated just so well on every occasion I have been here, Red Cray deserves a big congratulating pat on the back on successfully whipping their waitstaff into competency. You'll appreciate the service you get here and start to wonder why you've had to put up with all the crap attention you have gotten elsewhere (if you managed to get attention at all).

If you're sick of bad customer service everywhere, Red Cray will have you feeling like you've committed a bit of bribery with their staff.

So now that I've started with the positives, lets move onto the positives.

Lemon Lime Bitters - $4.50
Drinks arrive waayyy before your meals arrive, so it's a good idea to be a bit conservative with your liquids. And $4.50 for a glass of LLB is very reasonable indeedy.

Red Cray's Own Kilpatricks Oysters - 6 for $17
I am an occasional fan of oysters, but an occasional hater of oysters served the Kilpatricks way.
Fresh natural oysters drowned in bacon and Worcestershire sauce are too much of a distortion to the original oyster taste for me, and I dislike bacon (YES, I DISLIKE BACON and no, there is nothing wrong with me).

But I did taste these and while they were good, an opinion from me is like a vegetarian commenting on a slice of meat. It will be inaccurate. It will be biased. The sauce wasn't overpowering and it's a good starter, but I will never be converted.

The rock salt adds a nice colour splash for the overall presentation. Pity rock salt isn't always blue, to which my visiting relatives consumed a spoonful of it then politely asking, "Why is Australian rice so salty?" Aw!
Taste Plate - $23
Feeling particularly ravenous and ambitious since we may or may not have starved ourselves before this, the Taste Plate was a welcome addition to our stomach to start the night. 

Simple and refined, each ingredient was placed in isolation to the others so as to separate each distinct flavour. Loving the medley of textures on the same plate, with components from both land and sea.

Composed of their in-house smoked salmon, spiced coriander lamb cutlets, coconut prawns and crumbed brie, this could be a main for (an extremely) small eater. With a perfectly crunchy golden exterior, the creamy block of brie meets its perfect contrasting partner.

The prawns are not a disappointment on their own - fresh, plump and juicy however salivating with the expectations of delicious sounding coconut prawns, they are disappointing in that context. I couldn't taste the coconut, or even the slight HINT of it with the prawns.

While Aussies love their beef, I love my lamb. Tender and slightly charred, I'd choose a meat lollipop over a normal lollipop any day, everyday.

Beetroot: yuck. Beetroot Puree: gobsmackingly delicious!
I was initially led astray by seeing smoked salmon as part of the dish. I'm not overly fond of smoked salmon, especially when it tastes so much better raw or cooked. One extreme or the other, no fooling around with "smoked" for me.

But my oh my, my prayers are answered and desires fulfilled. This was exquisitely smooth and soft that I could have bet on my life that it was sashimi and definitely not smoked. The thickly cut piece was firm yet soft, supported by a mound of something I'd love to hate.

I'd love to hate beetroot, and I do hate it. No matter how many times I try it, I can't see the difference between it and dirt. But Red Cray, has revolutionised my thinking with this beetroot puree they put up. I needed to finish the whole thing before I realised I was eating my food enemy!

Red Cray Seafood Platter - $75
For the past 4 or 5 times at Red Cray, I haven't been able to pry myself away from their Seafood Platter after discovering what a delicious monstrosity they offer. Served on a massive tray that is the size of the table, the platter is presented as individual dishes of seafood so that the crunchy stay crunchy, the cold stays cold, and that you don't end up with chilli prawns and creamy mussels.

For the purpose of splurging, the Executive Platter upgrade includes a Mornay Crayfish, brimming with melted cheese and creamy sauce. I decided to watch the size of my thighs on this occasion.

And by the end of it, I assure you will be incredibly over satiated and feel like you ate your weight in seafood, and the whole ocean in your stomach.

Garlic Prawns
Huge springy prawns absolutely drowned in a sea of buttery creaminess with a strong dose of garlic in scent and flavour, could really do with a serving of crusty bread on the side to wash the dish clean.

Crusted Fish
I enjoyed this more than the battered and deep fried fish, for these fish fillets felt lighter to eat. Flaky fish always benefits from a slightly golden herb crust on its exterior, which makes the mouthful simultaneously crunchy and silky.

Basil Pesto Scallops
These beauties were delicious, and just having 2 of them makes them all the more precious. I do believe the way to make something MORE delicious is to limit the quantity you give. It's a play on the mind for me.
If it ain't delicious to start with - game over.

It looked a little dry initially, but the scallops were still beautifully sweet and moist. Firm to the bite, and a burst of flavour with that amazing bird-poop dollop that is basil pesto.

Natural Oysters
Ahh, oysters - something I like to (and have) ruined for so many for former oyster fans :)
Some people can't get their head or their stomachs to stomach the raw, the slime, the fishiness of these ugly sea creatures yet once they do, it becomes a prized delicacy.

Undoubtedly fresh and even better with a squeeze of lemon, these are great in small quantities. Disappointingly I came across the hated CRUNCH of either sand or chipped oyster shells in my mouthful.

Beer Battered Fish
The expected component of a seafood platter would have to be the deep fried fish. There was nothing too fancy with this, bordering on dryness. Could give this a skip, if you are too full.

Salt & Pepper Squid
Squid rings could easily become deep fried rubber bands if care is not taken. Here, you are definitely eating squid rings. Bouncy, soft, but still giving a good firm chew.

Yes I did try to fling my squid ring. No I don't always play with my food.

Chilli Mussels
Ever since going on a cooking-chilli-mussels spree at home, making 1, 2, 3 kilogram batches on 3 occasions over 2 weeks, I am less of a chilli mussel fanatic if I see it on the menu.

It was very easy to polish off the bowl of mussels here. The actual mussels were fat, plump and huge! The tomato sauce had a slight spicy kick but not an overpowering hotness that makes your eyes, nose and head run.

The single thing on the plate that went unfinished, and forgivabley so. Eaten at the same time with the seafood these would be alright, but in our hunger flurry, the chips went unnoticed.

And right at the end when you're absolutely stuffed, potato - even the deep fried kind, just seems a bit...boring.

Antique - free of any antique photo effects :)
The sea is full of both ugly and beautiful things, and this is definitely one of them.

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My rubbish pile - with more edible things on it than the inedible. I will usually leave behind a little mountain of batter, this time painstakingly peeled off each squid ring.

My stomach would not thank me if I ate all that, so leaving it behind always serves as a comforting reminder of how much healthier I am forced to eat nowadays.

Garlic Bread - $5
On a more recent occasion (read: 2 months ago), a birthday celebration meant the best excuse for a good feasting. Garlic bread was the choice to kick off dinner, with 2 plates of a good type of over-the-top golden and over-the-top fluffiness.

A deliciously toasted crust and airy fluffy centres just like how I imagine clouds to be, the garlic bread has all the bread but could do with more garlic. I can imagine all the butter that went into the making of this, but I can't picture the garlic.

Who's the Yin to your Yang?
And these Yin-yang salt and pepper dispensers were adorable!

King Snapper - $32
We're all about caring, so sharing comes naturally via communal dining :)
Not allowing each other to order duplicates of items on the menu, is really the best and most demanding way to sample the majority of the menu.

So good it sparkles
The King Snapper is food art and is plated up impressively on a plate canvas. Locally caught and simply but well-cooked fillets helps to preserve and bring out the natural sweetness of the fish itself. Served with a lemon thyme crust and lemon butter reduction, the pieces are stacked onto blanched brocollini and roasted garlic croquettes, along with equally as sweet as they are cute vine roasted tomatoes.

Remotely similar to, but so much better than a hash brown, the croquettes are crunchy golden crumbed potato sticks, that would have benefited a lot more if not suffocated under the rest of the ingredients.
Despite not being as crunchy as they could have been, I would smoke a potato cigar any day.

Veal (Special of the Day)

Red Cray has occasional Specials of the Day dishes that are not printed out on their menu. Waitstaff gladly suggest these when you're already bombarded with all the delicious menu choices, which is always helpful :)

That particular night, we were fated with a massive veal cutlet (served medium rare) with a button of lemon butter, butter mash, sugar snap peas, vine roasted tomato and with a jus of some kind. Some good, tender, loving veal on the bone.

Ocean & Earth - $35
I reserved the right to claim this as my dish from the very beginning. It just sounded so huge and generous, a fusion of both land and sea inhabitants. Like a more luxurious version of a typical Reef & Beef dish with the addition of a Moretan Bay bug, the dish is generous and indulgently creamy.

I just hate how bugs are called bugs. It really throws me off thinking I'm eating something that's also known by 6 legged insects, except a much more giant version of it. Yuck!

When the sea meets the land
The dish is really served with a knife stabbed right through the heart of the mashed potato. Along with that, you also get a hefty serving of 300g Black Angus grain fed Sirloin beef, 1/2 a bug (as classy as I can get it to sound), local Western Australian prawns drizzled with garlic sauce.

The mash is rich and creamy especially mixed in with the sauce, and with only half a bug with a very limited amount of bug flesh, had me craving for more bugs.

Herb Crusted Barramundi - $33
They seem to be really fond of the whole herb crusted theme and this is reflected in many of their dishes. Another pretty dish of pan-grilled local Barramundi fillet with a slightly crisp herb exterior, served on sauteed roasted capsicum and spinach, crumbled fetta, beautifully seared scallops and a lemon butter sauce.

And yet again, the seafood featured is perfectly cooked in every way, every side, every angle.

Dukka Crusted Lamb Cutlets - $31
Just as you wouldn't go to a Sausage Sizzle for the buns, one would probably not visit an award winning seafood restaurant for some lamb. That's not to say however, that they are lacking in the lamb cooking department. At all!

5 tender crusted lamb cutlets, minted potatoes, grilled haloumi, babaganoush and red pepper relish - and I can't believe I didn't ask to try this.

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An interesting compilation of textures, flavours and ingredients.
Also reminiscent of 3 drops of blood, no?


So when I eagerly suggested Red Cray in my flurry of excitement, I very nearly wanted to take it back. I groan at places that may have warm lighting for a nice cosy atmosphere, which consequently means undesirable lighting that results in crappy photographs. Funnily enough when you're crazy enough, a restaurant's lighting becomes one of the deciding factors of going there or not, even more so than the food. And as an aspiring foodie, that is not on :P

With all its freshly cooked sea creatures as its forte along with such smiley, friendly yet professional service, Red Cray deserves every single one of its awards it has won. Building up quite the collection over the years, it has taken the prestigious and well earned title of not only being just WA's favourite seafood restaurant but also on a national scale. Impressive, with seafood to wow.

This award winning venue has certainly left an impression on Perth's dining scene, evident from its popularity despite being in such an obscure location on a busy and cramped highway. You probably won't be a happy chappy if you rock up without a booking beforehand, as everybody else seems to have seafood cravings on the same night that you get yours. Always!

With the good prices and better-than-good food on your plate, it's a comfortable and worthwhile dining out experience. Although focusing on seafood, the menu plays with meats, poultry and even curries too with a hint of Asian style influence in it. The interior is understated classiness, but seems to be quite a cold atmosphere despite the warm lighting. With the majority of the restaurant being encased with big glass aquarium windows and an aquarium in the restaurant, it feels like you're dining in one too.

And for the first time ever, I can see myself raving on more about the service than the food. It is faultless and polished, and may get overly attentive if I must find a flaw. You feel valued and that your opinion actually matters to them, with staff asking how your meal is in between delicious mouthfuls and while we were chomping and shoving everything down with over enthusiasm. So many others over promise yet under deliver on the service aspect.
Here they are humble, yet it really shines over and above everything else.

And with a baby who even giggled at the staff here while she usually cries at just about every other unfamiliar moving thing on 2 legs, the people here really are of a special species.

(08) 9479 7000
Tues - Fri Lunch: 12pm to 2.30pm
Mon - Thurs Dinner: 5.30pm to 9pm (9.30pm on Fri & Sat)
No Separate Billing, BYO $6 per wine bottle
Specials: $12 Mon - Wed Pasta nights


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