After an afternoon of intense chillaxing by the hotel pool, napping in our room with the aircon on full blast on pillows probably manufactured in Heaven, the girls and I went on an adventure to find a good place for dinner.
From walking around the place and browsing through the pamphlets we looted from the Information Center, it was easy to conclude that Mandurah isn't exactly the kind of place you'd go for a fine dining. But in no way is that a bad thing - Mandurah is a haven of relaxation, void of any skyscraper stress, where people go to indulge in the simple pleasures of life: weekends away with the family, fishing on the beach, enjoying a beer on the verandah. Anything too posh and fancy just would just desecrate everything good about this town.
We decided to go for The Tap Bar (a decision which may or may not have been pioneered mostly by me), so we jumped into Beau and took the scenic 35-second drive through Mandurah 'City' and across the Mary Street Bridge to our destination.
We were one of the four cars in the carpark, and three of the eight people in the restaurant (three of them being the chef, the kitchenhand and the waiter/bartender), so it's hard to say what the vibe would normally be like. I think it would perfectly suit a group of friends who wanted to go out for a casual meal together but didn't want to dress up or spend too much money - the Tap Bar is the most reasonably priced places I've been to in a long time! And the service is fast and friendly.
Inside, the earthy-coloured walls were dotted with canvases of European scenes, the interior nothing special, but nice and homey. The waiter came and gave us a long strip of paper (click on the menu below to enlarge) with all the choices listed with an empty box on the left hand column, and there was even a list with extra information about the dishes, which I loved! I added a couple of choices from the specials board too.
We basically had the whole place to ourselves. You know that awkward situation where it's so quiet that people on the other side of the room can hear exactly what you're saying?
Our cocktails came first. A French Martini ($9) for the Korean, which was smooth and Chambord-a-licious. A Tropical Sunrise ($10) came for the Singaporean, rather strong, rather good. For the Malaysian, a Sex on the Beach ($9) which had a lovely amount of Peach Schnapps in it, one of my favourite liquers. It was lovely sitting back with my two favourite girls, talking about boys, how crazy-busy the holidays had been, and all the things we had to look forward to in the new year.
Our first batch of tapas came within 15 minutes, smelling and looking oh-so delicious. My choice was the Garlic Scallops with Bacon & Spinach ($12.5), an great combination of saltiness and sweet seafood. Served with some crusty bread and an olive-oil-lemony dipping sauce, it was a promising start to the meal. Then I attacked the Marmalade Pork Fillet with Pears ($9.5) which was a little oily, and could have done with a bit more orange flavour, but tender and tasty all the same. The Mussels Provencale with Chorizo ($8.5) was pretty damn good, the lemon broke up the strong, spicy oil from the Chorizo and really balanced it well for me. We elegantly gobbled everything.
Round two: the Grilled Lamb Cutlets with Tomato Salsa ($10.5) were amazing. I had no idea it was actually possible to cook meat to be that tender. Biting into those cutlets was like eating pillows. The rosemary and onion marinade was perfect, the tomato salsa was tangy and paired it really nicely, and it came served on a bed of deep fried crispy potato skins. Order this dish if you ever go.
We also got a serving of Potato and Dill Arancini ($7.50). I always order Arancini when I go for tapas. When done well, that paper-thin, crispy crust on the outside filled with the smooth, subtly flavoured filling just gets me. Last was the Spanish Mushrooms ($8) which came with lashings of butter and spring onion, on some crusty bread, just cooked, just delicious.
Good food + great friends = lasting memories.