Sorry for the lack of photos, TBP had a previous engagement & we were being SPONTANEOUS.
You may have come across the Precinct in the news, as it’s been making a bit of a stir lately. They were the latest high-profile victim of the liquor licensing laws in WA since the Commission was not convinced of the public interest in their application even though there was significant support from the community and local government. Now, a reading between the lines with my half a law degree makes it look like it was mostly about what was admissible at what stage of the proceedings rather than a declaration that the support they had was insufficient, but props to them for hanging in there because they got hold of a Restaurant License at 2pm last Friday! Hooray. So we trotted down to support small business and thumb our noses at the fuddy duddies in Parliament.
Despite not having a booking we didn’t have to wait long before we were seated by our charming waitress, who managed to be way cooler than me all night and yet not make me feel bad. Magic. Service continued to be excellent right through the meal from our various waitpersons, with just the right amount of information about what we were ordering right when we needed it and a nice sparkle of excitement about the new license. I remain impressed they managed to get the wine in and the menus printed in the three hours between hearing the news and end of business. A word of warning about the wine list – it’s tidy and international, and as a result there are only four bottles under $40 and two of those are the house wine. When you see that you can really feel for them – they were expecting 40-50% of their income to be from alcohol sales and this license must be a huge relief. Hopefully when things have settled a bit and they’ve gained some ground on the bank we’ll see a couple more options in the somewhat-more-affordable bracket.
Between three of us we ordered four small plates, a mains to share, a side, a dessert each, and a bottle of La Vendetta Sangiovese Toscana IGT. We didn’t test how well they’d briefed the staff on the wine, firstly because we knew what we wanted, and secondly because when I had a crack it turned out I was talking with one of the owners and she undoubtedly knew far more than I did. Outplayed, Precinct!
We started off with the pork scrunchions with pickled eggs. Niftily served in various sizes of poly pipe, these were a fun way to kick off. The eggs were tangy, the pork crackling was crisp, and it was an interesting combination. I’d love to try the same idea with hot crackling, since when cold they were more than a little reminiscent of those Mr Porky’s I used to have for long car trips – which to be fair I used to love so it’s not much of a criticism.
Next we had the whitebait with beer aioli. We were warned when we ordered them that they were ‘quite fishy’ – probably for the best, as I suppose there exist people who don’t realise whitebait are, you know, fish. I was relieved that they were the proper whole little ones about an inch long rather than the more-like-sardines I got one time at Clancy’s that I had to disembowel before anyone would go near them. These were crisp and delicious and honestly, not all that fishy. The beer aioli (served in a shot glass) was great too, we pinched it off the plate to dip odds and ends into.
The goats cheese and truffle souffle was really, really good. As soon as we hit truffle season and I get my hands on some of the goods I am making one of these. Pretty much licked the cheese off the sides. No regrets.
The charcuterie plate had a bit less charcuterie than expected, but was nevertheless good. Rillettes (I’m 90% sure the waitress said they were rabbit, but if anyone from the Precinct wants to correct me on that please feel free) are solidly in the charcuterie bracket, but sliced duck breast in liquorice sauce and sous-vide pork belly are in my opinion less so. However! We weren’t even planning to order it until we heard what was on it (as most cured meats are off limits for me at the moment) so it was all to the good. The pork belly cube was moist, tender and lovely, even if I was a bit snow-blind to pork belly by that point in the week since it was the fifth day in a row I’d eaten some. Now I know they have the hardware, I’ll be back to see what else they can do with it. The duck breast was tender, and the sauce was tasty, if not as strong in liquorice flavour as I’ve had elsewhere.
Our waitress warned us that the lamb only came with one chop and organised two more so we’d have one each. These came with slow cooked shredded lamb on a bed of toothsome walnut spatzle, which got B quite excited. The sauce on the lamb was particularly well done, a thick, savoury reduction with a hint of chocolate.
For dessert we tried each of the sweet options (they also have a cheese plate and chocolate truffles). I had the chocolate banana pie, which came deconstructed as a martini glass of thick chocolate mousse (or pudding, as B put it) with a banana foam, dried banana crisps and a tuile garnish. The citrus salad had thin sheets of tempered dark chocolate on a bed of citrus fruits, and the lemon curd in the meringue roll made a nice tangy, tangy contrast.
All in all, the food was thoughtful and well-executed, the wine was excellent, the service intelligent and friendly. Our waitress was happy to tell us about the origins of the meat (lamb from Amelia Park, chicken from Mt Barker, Pork from Linley Valley), which took the sting out of what can be at times an awkward conversation. We will be back, although maybe not until the menu has a bit of a shake up – we went through about half the current offerings, and it would be hard to go back in a party larger than a couple without doubling up. Having said that, I can imagine that goats cheese souffle making an excellent light lunch for one, and at $12 you could escape with that and a glass for wine for about $20 so it would be worth another trip for that alone.
May peaceful protest always taste this good.
834 Albany Highway
East Victoria Park
(08) 9355 2880