A little while ago I headed back to Lalla Rookh Bar & Eating House for dinner, not knowing at the time, that this would be my last il Capo experience with head chef Joel Valvasori at the helm. Lalla Rookh is one of my favourite Italian restaurants in Perth and their pasta is incredible thanks to Joel channeling his Northern Italian roots and focusing on seasonal produce. The modern Italian menu is full of mouthwatering dishes but the il Capo is the way to go to get the full experience. Letting you sit back and enjoy as six chef selected dishes are placed in front of you, share style. You get to try a mix of menu favourites as well as off menu chef specials.
While Lalla Rookh is a reasonably large venue and caters for everyone with a bar, courtyard, lounge area, wine store and dining room, it still has a relaxed, cosy feel that instantly makes you want to settle in for the night with a good bottle of wine and some yummy food. We dined on a Monday so it was fairly quiet however on Friday nights it certainly gets busy with the city work crowd and has more of a ‘welcome to the weekend’ party vibe.
Seated in the dining room, il Capo menu decided and just what I wanted in a red wine (an Italian number chosen perfectly by our lovely waitress) we eagerly awaited our first dish. After a short wait, it arrived, duck liver, picolit gel, toasted corn and fried Venetian brioche. This looked amazing and with my love for parfait/pate, I was excited. The fried brioche was buttery and toasty and a match made in heaven for the rich, creamy duck liver. The gel added a lovely sweetness and the ratio to parfait was spot on, with the toasted corn just adding another tasty element to an already great dish.
Second course was roasted blood orange tears, buffalo mozzarella and salted crostoli. Vibrant on the plate with that blood orange, one bite and I could have eaten a whole plate of these things. That light, freshness from the buffalo mozzarella, salty and sweet, ‘melt in your mouth’ pastry and the tangy, blood orange was like a party in your mouth. What an incredible flavour combination, I loved this dish!
Next up were clams with fennel, garlic, chilli, white wine and burnt bread. The aroma that this brought to the table was so inviting. Perfect little mouthfuls of delicate clam meat in saucy goodness with all those delicious, simple flavours that just work together. When you’ve got such superb produce to work with there’s no point in trying to do too much, simple is best and allowing the produce to shine always wins.
Fourth course was pasta, this is what I was really hanging out for and it most certainly didn’t disappoint. The prettiest looking fusi you ever did see, covered in a incredibly tasty rabbit ragu and of course a side of parmesan. To be honest, I still can’t get over all those divine little hand made fusi’s, perfect for catching all that yummy sauce and making each mouthful an absolute delight. Pasta heaven right there.
Next up and last savoury course was capretto ‘in bianco’, milk-fed goat, green beans and tomato. The meat fell apart, was super tender and full of flavour. All those yummy rich flavours you get from cooking a stew and meat that had been cooked to perfection. By this point we had started to struggle but were still enjoying every mouthful.
Full but definitely room for dessert, I was hoping for something light and not too sweet and the chef must have known. Vanilla semifreddo with apricots and pistachio nougat. The semifreddo was light and creamy, plump, juicy apricots and nougat that was out of this world. Everything on the plate worked together in harmony and gave us the perfect end to what was an absolutely incredible meal.
I couldn’t fault the service, everyone was lovely and friendly with that desired balanced of being attentive but letting you enjoy your night without too many interruptions. The staff and the vibe of a restaurant go hand in hand, happy staff equal a positive vibe which all creates a great experience and this places delivers on all accounts. The relaxed, cosiness also lends itself to an ideal date night venue.
When something comes to an end you always wish you had of made an effort to experience it more often, especially when it’s so delicious, however there’s no need to despair as Joel Valvasori is opening his own pasta bar in Subiaco called Lulu La Delizia at the end of October. Can’t wait for that one! It’s also exciting for Lalla Rookh as sous chef Alexandra Haynes takes over with her approach on Italian food being a little lighter and more feminine. So it’s a great excuse to get back to Lalla Rookh to check out the changes while also adding another place to your ever growing list. Winning!