Being a food blogger you’re always visiting local restaurants, cafes and events. Some are good, some are bad, and sometimes you experience a rare gem that defines and sets a new standard. It was a dining experience of this nature that spawned my very first food review in early 2013, and now more than a year later it’s happened again. Thanks to a 25-words-or-less competition on Great About Perth I won a degustation dinner for two at The Naked Fig on Thursday, 24 July. The degustation was hosted by Millbrook Winery, with tickets selling for $99. The event was sold out and for good reason, so I decided to take Coco along to experience the evening with me.
I wish I could tell you that what you are about to read won’t make me sound pretentious, or like Matt Preston reviewing a MasterChef contestant’s dish in the final week of the show. However, there is just no way I could avoid it in this case. No other words would do this review justice other than those I am about to use.
Upon entering The Naked Fig we were greeted immediately at the door with a warm friendly smile and seating. The atmosphere was amazing with beach views, the warmth of fireplaces and The Naked Fig’s unique interior decorating style. Cold water was immediately served, and the menus were on the table teasing.
Our first delight was a glass of Millbrook sparkling. It was bright, dry, crisp and about the finesse of flavours, rather than the power. The perfect glass to tantalise the tastebuds.
The first course of celeriac soup shooter, wasabi tea flavoured bread. It was not on the menu, but a nice complimentary start to the evening as we waited for all the guests to arrive. The shooter was soothing. The creamy, rich and warming sensation on the tongue complemented the sharp kick of the wasabi and tea flavoured bread. It was the perfect tastebud teaser to start the evening. If I could have a bowl of the celeriac soup for a meal I would order it without batting an eyelid.
We then received an introduction to the gentlemen from Millbrook who would, throughout the evening. be speaking to us about the evening’s matching wines.
The second course was marinated baby octopus, coriander potato, chilli. This complex dish was an unexpected highlight of the evening. The finesse placed into the presentation was worth appreciating as though it were an art piece, and the flavours and textures followed suit. The potatoes were firm, complementing the tender octopus, whilst the coriander added just the right level of sharp freshness to the dish.
This was accompanied by the clean, dry, zippy sauvignon blanc. Paired with the dish it truly came alive on the palate, complimenting the flavours of the dish.
Third course was a warm apple tart tatin, miso, caramel. A rich, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth sweet treat, somewhat polarising the previous dish. The miso added a umani layer of depth to the strong buttery caramel sauce, which helped balance the otherwise sweet dish. The richness of the dish helps set up the following mussel dish, and the accompanying arneis pleasantly cut through the rich buttery sauce, making the each bit more delectable.
The fourth course was unlike anything I’d ever had the pleasure of tasting before. The mussels, creamed yuzu sauce, petit greens were unexpectedly intense. The dish played an interest game on the tongue, immaculately balancing the luxurious texture with the intense punch of the flavour. The uniquely intense flavour from the creamed yuzu sauce was accompanied by another spectacular and unique in the way of a viognier. The wine was distinct. Full but balanced, intense and dry. It had a distinct combination of complex aromatics that was unforgettable. The distinctive and powerful flavours lingered, suiting well to the rich flavoursome dish. This was the kind of dish and wine pairing that not only would make anyone turn their head, but it would be right there in the person’s face screaming at them to take note.
The fifth course kindly lowered the intensity with the medium to full bodied pinot noir kindly coupling the rabbit saddle, smoked leg rillette, master stock. The moist rabbit and rich smoked leg rillette was served on the plate before the waiter poured the mouthwatering master stock on the dish at the table, enriching the meats. The first red meat of the evening was hearty, befittingly bridging between the intense flavours of the forth course and those more subtle in the sixth.
Upon tucking into the sixth course of pork belly, apple puree, short rib, spiced bread, ginger salsa micro herbs it quickly became apparent it was about to become the favoured dish of the evening – though it was a tough call. The pork belly was supple and the short rib could only be described as falling apart at the slightest touch. The dish melted in the mouth with the softer, medium tempranillo which lingered with its fruity flavours.
The final seventh course grew on the sweeter notes of the fifth with an intensely sweet Pedro. The dark dessert wine paired well with the slight hints of tartness in the light dish. The fruit spring roll, palm sugar syrup, toasted sesame seeds was a great ending with its crisp pastry, chewy apricots, creamy vanilla ice-cream and nutty sesame seeds.
The evening closed around 11:00pm with a small speech and smiles all around. The wine had continued to graciously flow all evening, the service was immaculate and the atmosphere divine. Each dish was as unique as the wines, yet the balance and flow throughout was faultless and the evening truly memorable. For $99 I would highly recommend any of The Naked Fig degustation dinners to anyone after a luxury evening on a budget (or not), or anyone looking to impress.
Two Naked Fig degustation dinners remain in 2014 – Seppelt on Thursday, 21 August and Howard Park on Thursday, 18 September.
-The Grizzly Bear