Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Matilda Bay Restaurant

Matilda Bay Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon
I sat in the dark - feeling vulnerable, plagued by curiousity, unaware of the destination I was being taken to on this chilly, blistering cold Winter night.
As we turn the corner, getting closer, and closer...I was at my wits' end. I couldn't handle this feeling of the unknown.

"So where ARE we going for dinner?!"

I was in the passenger seat of the car, anticipating this birthday dinner of mine that had been delayed a fortnight. Andy kept it a secret from me to retain an element of surprise that had me sulking for an entire week about not knowing what to expect.
I did know however, I was in for a treat. Especially when we pulled up in front of the Matilda Bay Restaurant :)
You can see the blue wall from afar, but we ended up in the wrong carpark. After a few confusing turns, we ended up in the same carpark again.
Activate your night vision for the poorly lit surroundings.
The invitation to a grand evening
Pushing open the doors, the entrance is warm, classy and very grand. We walk past paintings down a short hallway before being warmly greeted by the host, who show us to our table and seat us promptly. It's a busy night tonight, and the restaurant is already operating at full capacity.

We stick our noses into the menu like its the first time we've seen it, despite studying it for 20 minutes in the car just outside the restaurant. Matilda Bay Restaurant offers a seasonal a la carte menu or a 3-course set menu priced at $95 per person, where the latter offers a more limited variety of dishes.
Espresso Martini - $18
42 Below vodka and Kahlua shaken with an espresso shot and butterscotch schnapps
We weren't planning to have any drinks that night, but the anticipated long wait for food resulted in a quick change of plans. The drinks menu is extensive and full of temptations and we're instantly drawn to the section labeled "Dessert in a glass" (after moving on from 3 different choices - not so instant).

After breaking lose from the calling of the words chocolate vodka, we settled with an Espresso Martini. It arrives promptly and the alcohol is surprisingly strong and bitter that while sharing the martini, Andy asks if I can hop into the driver's seat for the drive home as he feels a wee bit woozy. I raised my eyebrows at him, seriously man?
Quail - $28
Partly boned, Pedro Ximenez marinated and chargrilled, Pear Chutney, Frisee and Crisp Bacon
For our all important starting course, we share the Quail. Not very fleshy but roasted to perfection, the quail and every ingredient on this dish were absolutely perfect matches. Pedro Ximénez is a certain grape variety grown in Spain, which gives the dish an overall sweet flavour.
With a slight (ever so slight!) bitterness from the frisee, the pear chutney adds a dimension of sweetness; its soft, slightly pulpy texture offset by croutons of salty bacon crisps. Its a good start to the night as we both - just me really - clean the plate until it gleams.

I was afraid the staff would collect the plate before I finished the last drop of chutney, so I left a piece of bacon in clear view just to indicate that no, I have not finished scraping the plate just yet :P
Black Angus Dry Aged Fillet 300g - $55
After what felt like a considerable wait time between entree and main course, Andy's beef fillet comes nicely presented on a wooden board, garnished with a slice of grilled lemon. It looks thick, juicy and plump with minimal garnishes, with a pouring jug of red wine jus on the side that is served with all steaks.
Anticipation, anticipation everywhere!
Why so gorgeous for?
Upon cutting into the meat, we see that it has been cooked to our request of medium rare right down to the second. It is perfectly seared on the outside, encrusted with specks of pepper and retained its own juiciness in the flesh, which is still a lovely pink colour. It is a hefty piece of steak consistently cooked throughout, giving full justice to the renowned connotation between Angus cattle and their superior eating quality.
Pink Snapper - $45
Pink Snapper fillet served with Spiced Avocado and Cucumber Puree, Fattoush Salad
Personally I have always associated Matilda Bay Restaurant with seafood, and I couldn't go past their fish options on the menu. My cousin had previously raved about a really good salmon they do, but as this wasn't on the menu I went with their pink snapper.

I'm still really ravenous at this point and look at my dish with sadness, because to my hunger-fuelled brain the portion looks just a tad small. I squeeze the juice from the lime and cut through the fish, which appears to be soft and fleshy. I found it to be a little overcooked, resulting in mouthfuls which were a little dry and lacking flavours I hoped for.
Fattoush Salad - reminds me of Summer!
The component which really outshone the seafood for me however, was the fattoush salad - simple, humble but packed full of flavour. As a popular salad in Levantine cuisine, fattoush salad is a mouthful of crunchy textures from fresh raw vegetables such as cucumber, red onion, capsicum and mint.

This is a new taste for me, which meant I had to consult Dr. Google to find out what the unbelievably crispy pieces of what looked like thickly cut potato chips were in the salad. The answer to my ignorance was fried flatbread! I'm also a loyal fan of the avocado, so the refreshing spiced avocado and cucumber puree nestled under the salad was a big hit with me.
Crème brûlée - $18
Meal swap is a common occurrence at dinner time and by the time we finished playing musical plates, they were promptly whisked away and replaced with dessert menus. I have a habit of consulting staff members on their food expertise and asked for suggestions from our waitress when we couldn't decide between the equally decadent sounding caramelised tart and crème brûlée.

With limited persuasion from our friendly waitress, we left behind the caramelised banana, banana jam and crème fraiche in sweet vanilla pastry crust option in pursuit of their rich (and more generously sized) crème brûlée. Dessert doesn't come cheaply, and we went with the one which gave us more spoonfuls between the two of us haha!
I have a real weak spot for crème brûlée and it came out looking stunning - if this was a person, it would be downright HOT! When I could bring myself to destroy the golden ceiling, the audible cracking sound was loud and gave way, revealing the beautifully creamy substance underneath.

Every mouthful was smooth and velvety, and you could see the specks of vanilla scattered throughout which really gave it a rich flavour. The thin pistachio and almond biscotti had a nice crunch to it, but was really no substitute for that amazingly crisp canopy on the brûlée (which I practically DEVOURED. ASAP. Myself.)

The waitress dropped by afterwards, collected our very empty dessert bowl and asked very sympathetically, "So...did you want to order a second dessert?" Haha, so very understanding of them!
Given its pristine location right on the waters, Matilda Bay Restaurant is a splurge, but a good splurge for special events, occasions and people. Unsurprisingly, the dimly lit atmosphere is a winner with couples but I can also imagine the beauty of the restaurant in the day when its ceiling-to-floor glass panes allows all the sunshine and natural light to flood in.

I really enjoyed the hospitality from the staff on the night, and felt well looked after by each of the waitresses that served us from beginning to end. Each person we encountered was friendly, polite and willing to chat, which earned big, big ticks in the area of service. Its just a nice feeling to feel that the price tag attached to your meal includes pleasant service, when most of the time it unfortunately does not.
Matilda Bay Restaurant is one of those venues which can be considered extravagant, whilst also having that laid back, casual vibe about it. It is very easy to picture a business lunch occurring in the restaurant and signing a million dollar contract, just as much as one would imagine it to take place on one of the many posh, luxurious boats docked outside, just on the other side of the restaurant's windows.


Matilda Bay Restaurant
Lunch & Dinner: 7 days, 11am - late
Closed on Sunday evenings during Winter months

(08) 9423 5000
3 Hackett Drive, Crawley WA 6009


  1. This place has been on my to try list for ages! I'm thinking I'll take the boy for his birthday later on in the year :)

    1. Haha, I didn't think you had a to-try list considering all the restaurants you go to! Seems like you dine out every single day you lucky thing :D


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