Sunday, July 1, 2012

Clarence's

Clarence's
566 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley
(08) 9228 9474
www.clarences.com.au


Figure 1: Warm and cosy at Clarence's 

Exactly two years ago, when I first started my food blog, I was a bit embarrassed of telling anyone about it. I thought people would mock me, or think it was lame, or stupid. But to my surprise and delight, I've found that it has brought me to people who also share a love of food. People who can savour good food instead of wolfing it down and then asking for the bill. People who can look at a dish and appreciate the ingredients, imagination and skill that has gone into creating it. People who embrace the fact that I am passionate about something and not afraid to show it, even if that means they have to listen to me squeal as our food arrives, and then wait patiently for about 30 seconds or so that I can take photos. And yes, I have seen the photos-of-asians-taking-photos-of-food meme. 


Figure 2: Front dining room 

Last Sunday, three fellow foodies and I made our way to Clarence's for a catch-up before they all dispersed on their holiday travels. Clarence's looks obscure and inconspicuous from the outside, especially on a cold winter's night in Mount Lawley. But as soon as you push the front door open, you're greeted with a warm, inviting atmosphere created by candlelit leather booths, bottles of wine lining exposed brick walls and the lively buzz of young, attractive customers. The vibe is laid back, a little quirky, yet polished. Our waitress was easy-going, knowledgable about the menu and prompt. Tick, tick and tick. 


Figure 3: Napoleone & Co Pear Cider 

I'm still on my green P's and had to drive straight from work that night, so I was pretty devastated that we were there for one of Clarence's Sunday Cider Sessions (cheap ciders from noon to 10pm) and I couldn't drink anything. But I still had a little sip of most of what was on offer, since our table pretty much cleared out the menu (Andrew had four). In the mix was some Napoleone & Co Pear Cider ($8), Custard Scrumpy ($8), and Gypsy Pear ($8).

Clarence's also does 'special fare' on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday nights. I'm particularly keen for the Tuesday night special - Mussels, frites & aioli with a glass of white wine or a pint of golden ale ($25). Yum. 


Figure 4: Save water, drink beer 


Figure 5: Porcini arancini & feta whip 

We sat there for a long while drooling over the menu, and finally settled on ordering three smaller items to get the ball rolling. I chose the porcini arancini & feta whip ($12.5). I adore arancini. The first time I ever tried it was at Amphora's in West Perth last year, and I've been ordering it ever since. I just love their lightness, crunch and subtle taste. Clarence's arancini just hinted at the nutty flavour of porcini mushrooms, and came served with a little lemon wedge, on a smear of feta dressing. Delicious. 


Figure 6: Ohohoho, baguette!

Next up was pork rillettes and house made pickles ($14), topped with a few pieces of pork crackling. Rillettes are a French dish similar to pâté - the meat is heavily salted and cooked in fat until it is tender enough to be shredded, then cooled with enough of the fat to form a paste. I'd never had rillettes before, and I was a bit weirded out by the texture at first. When I tried to scoop out some of the paste with a knife, it was soft like dough, but I wasn't able to actually separate any of it from the rest of the mixture because of the long strands on pork. I just ended up using my hands to clumps off of it and squashed it it onto some of the crusty baguette. But I liked the smooth, creamy flavour which was set off nicely by the tangy pickles. I'd really like to try duck rillettes next!


Figure 7: Winning chicken wings

The chicken wings & chipotle sauce ($9 for 500g, $16 for 1kg) were a unanimous decision, and you simply must get them if you go to Clarence's. They were impossibly tender and juicy, lightly spiced and just a tad crunchy on the outside. I was so curious as to how they made them so tender that I asked the waitress to ask the chef for me. She reported back shortly after and informed our table that their chicken wings are actually slow-cooked in fat first, then fried for crispness. Confited chicken wings for $9? Hellllll yes.


Figure 8: Roast beetroot salad 

At this point I was starting to fill up, so I opted for a salad instead while the others ordered mains. I got the Roasted beetroot, walnut & feta salad ($13) which also had some pomegranate seeds tossed through it. I don't even like beetroot, not even in burgers, but ordered this one because the waitress said it was amazing - and it was pretty damn good, I must say. The beetroot wasn't sour or bitter at all, but rich and sweet in flavour. The flavours worked really well together, and the balance of the strong feta and woody walnuts were just right.


Figure 9: Pan roasted barramundi 

Angela and Moo got the same main: Pan roasted barramundi pancetta and sage ($27). It was presented beautifully on the plate, scattered with some cress, broad beans, peas, and crispy pancetta. The best bit was the skin, fried until crispy which shattered in your mouth. And as expected, the fish was perfectly cooked.

Sherry's triple-decker prawn club sandwich with tomato & chorizo ($18) got all the attention though, which looked rather impressive stacked up high, served with a side of spiced chips ($8). 


Figure 9: Prawn club sandwich 



Figure 10: Delicious looking dessert menu! 

The dessert menu looked so good, but I had already promised Princess to a dessert date after dinner, so I resisted. However, I will definitely be back in the near future to try one of their offerings, which includes creme brûlée and brownie & frangelico milkshake. As well as round two of those fabulous chicken wings. 


Figure 11: New favourite spot

Clarences on Urbanspoon

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