Saturday, 27 July 2013

Eating flower pots at No.4 Blake Street, North Perth

Popping candy: never fails to surprise, amuse and turn you into a kid...

No 4 Blake Street on Urbanspoon
As we reluctantly get out of the car into the freezing cold weather, our host for the evening is already holding the door open for us with a big smile on her face. We step inside and the first thing that came to mind was, where are all the customers?

"You have the whole place to yourselves tonight", she beamed.
There couldn't have been a more perfect coincidence for our 1.5 year anniversary. I'm not big on half yearly milestones, but I needed an excuse to try No.4 Blake Street's degustation dinner, having had come here a few weeks earlier for lunch and enjoying it immensely.

The restaurant looks drastically different come nightfall, a complete transformation from its day time appearance. It isn't too sophisticated, and I immediately fall in love with the charm of both the place and its staff.
No.4 Blake St - Degustation menu
No.4 Blake Street's change of costume takes place during the swapover between day and night, from a laidback, casual style to sleek, polished formalwear after sunset. Part of its attire are thick, velvet theatrical curtains that drape along the back wall, concealing the kitchen that is in open, full view by day.

If Perth's Nobu is famous for its signature Black Cod Miso, then No.4 Blake Street is known for its just-like-the-real-thing flower pot dessert. By the end of the night I am quite blown away by the whole experience and can't believe it has taken me this long to discover this neighbourhood gem.
House-baked olive-encrusted bread
I get excited when we are presented with a board with a selection of 2 breads of either a white sourdough roll or slices of olive bread. We both choose the olive bread and I happily announce "IT'S STILL HOT!" as I discover with my cold hands that the bread is still warm.
Trio of Butters: Salt & Vinegar, Lemon & Lime, Orange
Accompanying the bread (or just as good to eat on their own) are three butters, each infused with the flavours of salt and vinegar; lemon and lime, and orange. Despite not liking salt and vinegar chips much, salt and vinegar flavoured butter is a different story.
The flavour is distinct and strong and it's my favourite out of the trio of butters. The orange butter is also strongly flavoured however the lemon and lime is subtle (perhaps a little too subtle as we can't really taste anything)!
Cocktail - $18
Unfortunately I can't find the drinks menu and have forgotten the details to this cocktail. The small glass packed a big punch of taste and I really enjoyed the refreshing minty sweetness of it from the addition of Vietnamese mint. A really sweet start to the evening :)
Amuse Bouche: Pig's Ear Croquette, Pumpkin Crisp, Pumpkin Foam, Coffee reduction
The appetiser to our dinner "show" was a pig's ear croquette, shaded under a crisp, wafer thin sheet of pumpkin which I absolutely loved. It took a few goes to convince myself that I had heard "pig's ears" and I'm very intrigued when the inside of the croquette revealed a soft, almost creamy filling. The deep fried croquette however, is a little too oily for me and I pass half to Andy.
Buttered Yabbies, Blood Orange Gel, Boudin Noir, Purple Potato Crisp
For the entrees, we have collaborated and narrowed it down to the two dishes we can't leave until our next visit. The buttered yabbies are well cooked and springy to the bite but not as buttery as I had anticipated. I'm a bit wary of black pudding but I hadn't even realised I was eating it at the time. I had two words running through my head: savoury brownie.
Check out the miniscule pot plants!
Although not the main component of the dish, I really like the pieces of purple potato crisps. Besides being visually stunning, their glassy texture means they shatter between the teeth. I'm a big fan of the recurring theme that is evident in many of tonight's dishes, of turning vegetables (pumpkin, potato, mushroom and parsnip) into delicate shards of flavour.
Air-dried Venison, Beetroot Variations, Devilled Egg with Vanilla and "confit" Garlic
I'm not a loyal beetroot fan but this earthy vegetable certainly has its impressive moments. I'm won over by the words air-dried venison and it doesn't deter me from ordering a dish that is very much conquered by beetroot. The presentation is beautiful and I think I actually take more time photographing it than I do eating it!
I am misled by the description of devilled egg on the menu and whilst the slow cooked egg yolk had a perfectly wobbly centre, I feel as though I missed out on the prospect of a devilled egg with the potential to wow me. The air-dried venison had a completely unpredictable texture that fascinated me; I even forgot what I was eating until I asked! They are somewhat "airy" and provide a good chew, and don't actually taste meaty at all.

The clever transformation of beetroot into the many forms and textures on the plate made me forget my dislike for beetroot itself, as they all had a delicate, subtle flavour that wasn't too overpowering (besides the piece of plain sliced beetroot that had nothing done to it). I enjoyed making my own beetroot sandwich with venison, layered with beetroot mousse and foam, sandwiched between crunchy beetroot wafers. And then, smothered in garlic mayonnaise!
Al Dente: Chicken and Garlic Tortellini, Confit Tomato and Kalamata Olives
The interlude between entree and main courses is a pasta dish of freshly handmade pasta. On this night we are presented with chicken and garlic tortellini pillows, grape tomatoes and olives.
The clear, thin broth has a light sweetness to it and tastes of a subtle tomato flavour. I think I could drink a whole bowl's worth.
Another carb offering: White Sourdough bread
After our pasta dishes are cleared away, Andy continues to eat our leftover butter from before - on its own. It's too good to waste, so thank goodness our waitress comes over with another offer of breads, which we aren't rude enough to decline of course! I'm not sure whether it's because she noticed our unfinished butter, or Andy's overenthusiastic consumption of butter.
Chicken stuffed with Perigord Truffle, Summer Corn, Popcorn, Pickled Shimeji, Porcini Foam & Mushroom Paper
For our mains we debated over the lamb, chickpea and smoked yoghurt dish but the mention of truffle ultimately won me over (making me force Andy to order this, ha!). I've never tried truffle before and was really eager to have this touted delicacy. It was very, very subtle so my final verdict is: I must try some more!

I wandered outside at this point to the restaurant's backyard and notice their little backyard herb garden project, where they are growing herbs in little terracotta pots that line the pavement. I spot labels with marigold, parsley, coriander and basil amongst all of them, while this dish is garnished with baby coriander and rocket.
The component I enjoyed most on this dish (and all the other dishes which featured it) was again the brittle, paper-thin mushroom crisps that stood tall and proud on the plate. Like the other crisps, the mushroom sheets had a strong flavour except these were big teeth-stickers, and adhered themselves to teeth with every bite. I had the pleasure of demolishing all of them.

The blobs of porcini "foam" on the plate were more gel-like in texture, with a nice salty flavour and paired well with the chicken, which was relatively flavourless. The corn kernels and truffled popcorn did not add much in terms of flavour to the dish but added different textures, creating a dish that showcases many, many textural components and the complex skills involved.
Ranger Valley Beef Flank, Textures of Parsnip, Poached Quince, Brandy braise
I've chosen the beef flanks as my main and I have to say I LOVE myself for that decision! The wooden board is a canvas for a modern piece of art and it looks absolutely stunning. It reminds me of a walk through a beautiful garden, with a yellow brick road :)
The beef is tender juicy and the flesh is tainted with pink from being cooked to a wonderful medium rare. I wasn't quite expecting this but it was a good, delicious surprise. The parsnip has been prepared in three different ways, and I loved the simplicity of the roasted chunks of parsnip. They are particularly generous with the parsnip puree mash and although I would have loved to eat more of that buttery goodness, I struggle to get through even half of it.
The yellow brick road is very rich, and both of us give up.
While I'm helplessly trying to finish everything in front of me, I feel a sudden uncomfortable fullness in my stomach. I think it is my intolerance of rich and creamy foods (which is a pain in the butt, really) and I ask for a simple glass of hot water.
It comes delivered with wedges of lemon on the side, which was a really thoughtful gesture.
A few squeezes of lemon here and another few gulps there, the problem is fixed and I'm ready to take on dessert.
Palate Cleanser: Mango Sorbet & Tangerine segments
The palate cleanser for the night is a simple mango sorbet on a bed of tangerine segments. It tasted and smelled rich of mangoes, but was a little too heavy for me to enjoy as an effective palate cleanser. Perhaps this was because its texture was more comparable to ice cream rather than sorbet, but the acidity of the tangerines did help to balance out that richness.
Winter Jar: Tonka Bean and Vanilla Pannacotta, Burnt Orange Jelly, Malted Crumb, Cinnamon Ice Cream
Dessert choice was the one thing we reached immediate consensus on, as Andy isn't too fond of rhubarb and a cheeseboard would kill me. The Winter Jar sounded absolutely divine, and was presented with its own opening act. After our waiter gave us some alone time with the dessert (his words: I'll come back after you are done with photos :)), he came back and spritzed a little bit of curious into the air around us.

The perfume bottle held a yummy smelling toffee essence that filled the air with a lovely sweet fragrance, which I tried to keep breathing in like a maniac. I'm very lucky I was patient and waited, because I actually assumed the perfume bottle was a drink that came with the jar.
That would have been a hard one to explain if they had caught me drinking from the bottle eh?
The Winter Jar
The sweet scent of toffee lingered around briefly as we eagerly plunge our spoon into the depths of the jar. The pannacotta has a smooth consistency that I eventually confuse with the cinnamon ice cream that is also inside. The orange jelly, honeycomb chunks and the wispy vanilla fairy floss all become convoluted layers of sweetness, but the unexpected discovery that make us both shriek with childish delight is the popping, tingly sensation on our tongue.

Popping candy: never fails to surprise, amuse and turn you into a kid.
Chocolate Garden: Valrhona Chocolate Mousse, Salted Peanut, Dacquoise
Ordering their flower pot is a must do if dining at No.4 Blake Street. It looks too realistic to eat, and I probably would not even realise if the fine chocolate crumbles were substituted with real dirt. I've eaten this twice now, which might give me a compulsion to eat the next flower pot I see...

No.4 might be phasing out the selling of the chocolate garden during dinner time.
They aren't the cheapest of desserts at $18 during lunch!
The chocolate garden was composed with thick layers of dirt, slime and rocks, thankfully made up of crumbs, chocolate mousse, sorbet and crunchy candied macadamias. The first few spoons are heavenly, but if you weren't born with a sweet tooth then each consecutive mouthful can become sickly sweet.

But chocolate lovers rejoice - this plant is made for you! I couldn't get enough of the mouthfuls of contrasting temperatures and textures from the sticky salted peanut butter caramel, the cold creaminess and much needed crunch from the nuts, which were much more buttery than they were candied. I try very hard to finish it, but we both put down our spoons and admit defeat.
The scene at No.4, which I would very much like to see again :)
That same night, I had the degustation all over again. If your response is "Yeah right, in your dreams!" then you would be absolutely correct - I actually dreamt of this dinner in my sleep. We left with such a positive, memorable experience and we felt comfortable, well fed and well looked after the entire night. Our crazy photography antics were extremely well catered for!
I can't fault the service we received if I tried, it was impeccable, attentive and some of the best I have experienced in a while. It is a winning combination when paired with a thoughtful and delicious menu where I was able to try new tastes, ingredients and cooking methods.

I love seeing the creativity that gastronomy can bring, which turns cooking into a science, and chefs into magicians.
Being told we were welcome to snoop around and take photos, we had a peek into the next room where all their wines make a brilliant debut.
On the table features the numerous bottles of wine set up on standby, ready for the 7 course d'Arenberg Wine dinner the next night. Judging from all those bottles, it looked to be a very promising night ;)

The team at No.4 are very accommodating and show brilliant service; it made the night (and us) feel truly special :)
No.4 Blake Street, North Perth
Brunch: 7am to 4pm, 7 days
Dinner: 6pm to late, Tuesday - Saturday
High Tea: 2pm to 5pm, Saturday (Would love to try this one day!)

(08) 9444 6678
4 Blake Street, North Perth WA 6006


  1. I love this place both brekky and dinner! I can't wait to go back again :)

    1. Thanks, I'd love to come along. Haha! :P
      Like you, I really surprised myself that I ordered the chicken dish!

    2. Any excuse to go back right! :)

  2. Lovely! Will definitely have to visit this place with the beau. :)
    Thank you for the tip regarding the Chocolate garden! It indeed looks like a legitimate flower pot..

    1. Hi Stephanie, I highly recommend it. You'll probably have to share the flower pot with the mister!

  3. Hi Sandy :)
    Randomly found this page because of the very interesting title lol


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