PERTH restaurant Garum is a collaboration between the ritzy hotel Westin Perth and celebrated Aussie chef Guy Grossi.
The My Kitchen Rules judge is the brains behind Garum’s Roman-inspired menu, but the real star is head chef Stefano Pingue.
If you sit back and watch Pingue work the pass, you’ll see a serious chef dedicated to his craft.
Pingue fine-tunes every dish before it leaves his watchful eye and imparts his knowledge to a young apprentice who never seems to leave his side.
The dining space is bright and vast with tall ceilings and plenty of indoor plants, but like most hotel restaurants Garum feels sterile and clinical.
Apologies to my fellow white-collar workers, but a sea of suits escaping the office for a quick lunch doesn’t help matters.
Thankfully, the quality food and exceptional service compensate for the restaurant’s lack of personality.
Everybody loves a complimentary starter, and Garum’s house-baked sourdough was a great way to kick things off.
The warm and fluffy bread is served with a palate-cleansing moretum–a fresh virescent dip made with ricotta, parsley, celery and olive oil.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that couldn’t be truer for my crostini appetiser ($6 each).
A thick slice of grilled bread is topped with thin slices of ox tongue, which is a similar colour to deli polony.
It’s a stunning looking dish, but I can understand how some might be put off.
The smoky flavour of the airy tongue meat is complemented by a tangy salsa verde spread and a generous shaving of peppery horseradish.
I order quail ($22) at every opportunity and Garum’s didn’t disappoint.
The full roasted bird is butterflied over a bed of slow-cooked onions with honey, fennel, currents and crunchy pine nuts.
The dainty quail was a fussy delight, and I enjoyed trying to get to the sweet meat closest to the bones.
I rounded off my meal with another poultry dish–the duck tortelli ($28).
The al dente pasta is stuffed with rich duck meat and swimming in a buttery mushroom sauce.
This moreish dish is crowned with meaty mushrooms and crispy fried sage leaves. It’s absolutely divine.
I asked for a spoon to scoop up every last bit of sauce, but my attentive waiter went one better by offering me another round of complimentary bread to soak it all up.
Now that’s service.
by Matthew Eeles
480 Hay Street, Perth