May 5, 2012

Origins Restaurant - Dinner

Origins Restaurant
Ground floor, Pan Pacific Hotel
(08) 9224 7777

Gone are the brightly lit tables and the view of the hotel pool, the restaurant is transformed by intimate and subdued lighting into something quite different.  

The food coming out of chef Phil Ryan's kitchen is also something else. While a little on the pricey side, Origins didn't stint on the quality or the presentation.

Ondine and I were there for our anniversary this year, and we really were not disappointed.

To start, we were provided with an amuse-bouche. A taste of Crayfish bisque, its flavour both light and intense. A delicate medallion of tail meat resting at the bottom of the cup.

We both ordered a seafood entrée, the crispy skinned Broome barramundi, with tiger prawn, spring onion, ginger nage $26 being very well executed. A wonderfully crisp skin and what I thought was an outstanding sauce. While creamy, the nage was fragrant, the perfume of ginger lifted it above the fish, with a hint of sweetness reminiscent of Japanese pickled ginger. It stood out as the highlight of this dish.

Crispy Barramundi Salmon gravlax

Juniper lime salmon gravlax, horseradish crème fraiche, and capers $28 was both remarkable and could have been so much more. It was unusual in that each slice of the fish was cut precisely to jigsaw into a perfect single layer on the plate.

Perhaps its only fault was that I could not taste the horseradish. I'm a big fan of it, so my tolerance may be a little higher than most. The cream really was milder than it could have been and I feel the saltiness of the salmon and capers needed something sharp or pungent to cut it.

Ondine decided to try the Angus beef fillet, potato pave, truffled corn purée, beef rib and smoked eel ragout $45 as her main. 

Fillet is the cut beloved of chefs, being easily portioned and tender. Usually it suffers from a certain blandness, but not in this rendition. These medallions were perfectly done to blue, and markedly flavourful. The beef rib had been slowly cooked and shredded before being bound with the smoked eel, the two flavours harmonising curiously with a smoky lingering richness.

Every element in this dish was well executed; the corn purée and jus were both silkily drawn across the plate, and the buttery tenderness of the potato pave rendered it far from an afterthought.

I ordered the venison wellington, mustard purée, scotch egg, red wine jus $55 - which not only appears to be one of the restaurant's signature dishes, but was also my personal highlight of the evening. A wellington done well in a restaurant is a bit of a rarity these days, and like the fillet steak, was cooked perfectly. Slightly more done than rare, and served with tiny turned carrots, asparagus spears and a cute little scotch quail egg this was a well rounded and delicious dish.

The photographs do not do the warmth and elegance of this dish justice.

Desserts at Origins are interesting. Ondine went for the lighter cinnamon doughnuts, milk purée, croissant ice cream,  hot chocolate $15 spread. Definitely some good techniques and novel plating went into this dish. The ice cream tasted authentically like croissants and the doughnut balls appeared to be sliding off the plates.

The flavours were a little mismatched though, - the hot chocolate was not really working with anything else - leaving us to feel that this dish needed a little twist or something to make it pop.

Cinnamon doughnuts

My dessert was the caramelised apple cider jelly, muscovado ice cream, and white rum gel $17. Readers of this site will probably understand my predilection to trying things with cider in them, so my choice of this dish is no surprise.

It was (disappointingly) another dish trying to use all of the modern gastronomy techniques. Cider turned to jelly, a frozen sphere of astoundingly tart rhubarb and strawberry juice, honeycomb, white rum jellies and a smooth muscovado icecream to top it off.

Technically a challenging dish, but again, it didn't really work together - there were some great individual things here but the flavours really didn't play off each other. This diner felt like this was a degustation of desserts rather than an actual plate.

Caramelised apple cider jelly

To wrap up, there was nothing bad at all about our experience at Origins. It wasn't the most inexpensive fine dining in Perth, but the calibre was there to put this restaurant in the top 10 Perth wise. The only let downs for me were the somewhat small cellar selection, and  little inconsistencies in the make-up of each of the dishes, but nothing major. 

Recommended  16/20

Origins Restaurant at the Pan Pacific Perth Hotel

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