MY friend and ex-journo colleague fancies herself a masterchef, whipping up impressively intricate meals.
She reels off words like sommelier (a glorified wine waiter) in everyday conversation and watches every cooking show going.
So when she was blown away by Duende I knew it had to be good.
“Balance is what they do really well here,” she summed up after sampling a variety tapas dishes.
She’s right. Each dish had a wonderful mix of sharpness, creaminess and tartness that hit the tongue in perfect harmony.
We kicked off with the cerdo y queso, otherwise known as pulled pork croquettes ($6 each).
“Beautiful,” my friend sighed as she consumed the mahon cheese and pork parcel, encased in crisp, cornflake-like crumbs, and with a wonderful smoked paprika sauce.
Next up were the patatas bravas, potatoes dusted with paprika ($9).
They were the smashed variety, which meant lots of oil-crisp edges. A smoked tomato aioli really was the icing on this delicious dish.
Haloumi a la parrilla ($15) was an impressively flavoursome dish.
The grilled cheese was a bit hard to cut, so perhaps we didn’t get to it fast enough, but the pepperonata salsa and mojo verde ensured it was too good to pass.
Mojo means a spicy sauce around the Mediterranean and this one was green and light, and the smokey, grilled bread was perfect to soak up the garlicky tomato salsa.
At first bite the garbanzos noquis, or chickpea gnocchi ($18), seemed lacklustre after the rich flavours of preceding dishes.
But the gnocchi was light and fluffy, and it wasn’t long before the delicate mix of heirloom tomatoes, parsley-rich chimmi churri and oaxaca cheese (from Mexico), in a pale tomatoey sauce worked their magic and the flavours crept up to dance a light flamenco on the tongue.
“How do they concentrate the tomato flavours?” my mate asked.
But the helpful waiter wasn’t letting on, saying with a Mona Lisa smile: “We have some amazing chefs.”
The doughnut balls with cinnamon and vanilla ice cream ($14) came with the ominous words “and injected flavours”.
We felt like a couple of mad scientists as we injected syringes of jaffa chocolate and a raspberry cream into them, giggling with enjoyment at the experience and taste.
We followed up by knocking back a chocolate terrine with raspberry, double cream, brandy and hot-pink pop rocks ($12) that was so rich it should be in a bank vault.
by JENNY D’ANGER
662 Newcastle St, Leederville
Open 7 days