April 21, 2014

Breaking Birthday Bread at The Precinct

I have a friend. Her name is Patricia. Patricia makes ceramics; take a look. Patricia celebrated her birthday very recently. We celebrated in the best way we know how - by eating. 

There was a time when I concentrated my pursuit of eating along the Victoria Park cafe and restaurant strip. It was easy enough, I live locally and there was more than enough choice. I haven't spent as much time on the strip these days but when I do return to the local hood I am reminded of the quality that can be found close to home. 

That night we ate at The Precinct. I've been to The Precinct a couple of times but never for dinner. Our other friend Shu (she takes my photos sometimes) was already there when I arrived holding Patricia's gift in both hands as the gift bag was threatening to break apart due to the weight of everything I had shoved in. Patricia is quite the home cook so we got her Gwynnie Paltrow's cook book (because I think Patricia is a fan of Gwyneth...) and a set of mini cocottes by Le Creuset. Okay, let me say what a fail that was on my part. Patricia makes her own line of ceramic homewares that can be used in the oven. I know that. I had the smart idea of buying her Le Creuset because every kitchen needs some good ol' cast iron Le Creuset, right? Well, the mini cocottes are ceramic. I gifted ceramic to a ceramicist. Sheesh. 

The birthday present faux pas

Once my horror dissipated, we got to ordering. No alcohol for me, I went with the ice tea. It's brewed strong and could use a little sugar syrup on the side, but at the same time I enjoyed the strong tea flavours and it's always good to cut down on the sugar intake. 

The Precinct works on a shared dining concept and the waitstaff are useful in advising how many dishes to order, which I appreciate as it's not always easy to know how many dishes to order when sharing as restaurants serve up so many different dish sizes. 

On our order was the truffle mac 'n' cheese at $13 (of course, who doesn't get mac 'n' cheese when it's on a menu?), the pork belly with lemon and mustard dressing ($26), the tomato medley with buffalo mozrella and basil ($16) and the meatballs with zucchini pasta ($16.50). This was one of my choices as I have seen a lot about zucchini pasta online but not eaten it yet. 

The mac 'n' cheese is made with the teeny tiny mini macaroni. I prefer the larger ribbed macaroni because I like that  extra bite it gives and the bigger tubes means you get more sauce inside so when you bite down it just gushes out. Despite my preference for the big stuff, their mac 'n' cheese is delightful to eat. It is a very small serving size. Quite small. I really think at a stretch you could share this between two people. Given the price for this is $13 and the small serve of mac 'n' cheese at Rockpool (which is freakin awesome stuff) is $9 which is larger in size than that served at The Precinct, I'm a little 'things that make you go mmm' on that one. 

The pork belly was cooked perfectly and as I like it, super crisp skin and the meat was soft and tender. It may look dry from the photo, but it wasn't. Not at all. There wasn't too much fat on it either which was good. Overly fatty pork belly can be gross. The accompanying dressing was a bit too acidic for my taste buds but the pork belly tasted good enough on its own without it. While lovely to eat, there are only four small pieces of pork belly on the plate.

I was thinking the tomato medley, going by the description, was going to be like an insalata caprese, which I suppose it was, just served in a bowl. Quartered cherry tomatoes were combined with the mozzarella and basil. The tomatoes were really sweet and juicy but I think the salad could have used a bit more cheese. There was a lot of tomatoes to the cheese. 

My zucchini spaghetti curiosity was finally put to rest when the meatball dish came out. The good sized meatballs, of which there were four, were served on top of the zucchini which had been fashioned into the long ribbons of spaghetti. I liked this a lot. The meatballs were good, really tasty and had a good texture and the zucchini spaghetti also had a good texture to it. It wasn't soft and sloppy but had still had some crunch to it and it was just a nice dish. The sauce was well flavoured and it makes me want more zucchini spaghetti. I don't know how to make zucchini into spaghetti but I'm going to ask Google. 

We didn't stay for dessert because we wanted to take a stroll after dinner, with the weather that night being Indian summer perfection plus with Baskin and Robbins a couple metres away, a stroll is not complete without a waffle cone in the hand. 

The total bill came to $92.50 for the three of us sharing four dishes. Overall not bad in the money stakes, although I do think some of the serving sizes can be improved upon. There's also some inconsistency with serving sizes, with the mac 'n' cheese being quite small but the meatballs and zucchini spaghetti being much larger for the small price. The mac 'n' cheese is 'truffled' although my assumption is this refers to the inclusion of truffle oil and not the fungi itself.  

Flavour wise, the dishes were pretty much on point.  My biggest dislike was the very tart sauce that came with the pork belly of which I could not even manage a smear and the somewhat ordinariness of the tomato salad. Price wise, yes it's reasonable when you consider we split the bill between the three of us but I do think pricing is somewhat disproportionate in consideration to some of the serving sizes. I do very much believe in quality of quantity and I'd rather have a smaller dish of higher quality than a big bowl of slop. I think where pricing is concerned it's just become more common, and as a result accepted (even though that doesn't necessarily make it right), that it can be on the higher side especially in Perth. That's not necessarily a good thing and I think some other establishments really do take some ridiculous liberties when it comes to menu pricing. I don't think the prices at The Precinct are overly unreasonable but serving sizes could be improved upon. I would like just a little bit more mac 'n' cheese, please.

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1 comment:

  1. I love mac and cheese :) I'm still yet to try this place, need to make an effort to go!