Armada Restaurant and Bar

Fridays are my favourite day. Perth is buzzing, everyone is keen on the weekend and there’s a good chance you could be having a drink or two. As usual, my Friday was spent sampling Perth’s food, drink and pinball. This time I hopped my way through Game City, The Aviary, The Deck, Helvetica Bar and Armada Restaurant and Bar (then maybe back to Helvetica for good measure).

I was particularly excited because the friendly team at Armada Restaurant and Bar invited me to try their new menu. To be honest, I had no idea Armada existed and I was very keen on trying somewhere new and hidden.

“Pork loves sugar and these babies had some serious lovemaking moments.”

Off the beaten track, at the base of Travelodge Perth, Armada Restaurant and Bar’s newly painted restaurant was gleaming with clean walls and neutral tones. After a conversation with the very friendly Service Manager Azmi, he advised that the restaurant will soon be adorned with paintings to bring some more life to the space. The restaurant had just completed a refurbishment and they are still putting on the finishing touches. The outdoor space was fun and modern, with a mix of high bar tables and stools, comfy printed couches with accents of purple and the usual lower tables and chairs.

From May 1st the outdoor space will have live performers to bring a little more atmosphere.

I found the alfresco area fun and a nice way to spend an evening under the stars. The restaurant has a lot of potential and I am looking forward to seeing what splashes of colour comes with the paintings.

We were seated halfway between the outdoor area and restaurant, allowing the husband (Adam) to watch the cricket and I could enjoy the ambiance of the alfresco.

“You don’t want to be served a massive slab because you end up hating yourself for finishing it… because seriously, who doesn’t finish a dessert? No room? Move a kidney, make it fit. It’s sticky date pudding.”

The staff were very attentive and we were taken care of by a lovely waitress and the Service Manager. We were promptly offered a drinks menu and after a short discussion with our waitress, she helped me choose a St Hallett Gamekeeper’s Shiraz – a smooth and full bodied drop that was much too easy to drink. Adam opted for a Brokenwood Cricket Pitch Red – lighter than the Shiraz but still full bodied with a long finish.

The menu was diverse with some of the usual suspects. We opted for:

  • Pumpkin & feta arancini with arrabbiata sauce
  • Pappardelle prawn saganaki – Spanish onion, garlic, paprika, feta & napoletana sauce
  • Chermoula pork rib – homemade sweet potato wedges, sugar snap peas with apple jus
  • Sticky date pudding, caramel sauce & vanilla bean ice cream
  • Espresso panna cotta, pecan & shortbread crumb, mixed berry coulis

I was advised that most of these are items that are new to the menu, so this was a good way to see how the Chef has diversified.

Pumpkin and Feta Arancini
Pumpkin and Feta Arancini

These gorgeous little things were crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside and full of flavour. The tomato based sauce was housemade and very rich… absolutely perfect with the creamy feta and sweet pumpkin innards. The large parsley leaves added a wonderful freshness to the richness of the dish, however I would have liked a little more and perhaps torn for easier eating. I am one of those weridos who always eat the garnish, however there are many who don’t. I think this “garnish” of parsley really helped kick the dish over the edge and I would be sad to see it left behind by others.

Papperdelle Prawn Saganaki
Papperdelle Prawn Saganaki

I’m going to say, I had absolutely no idea what Saganaki was until I ate this yummy dish and googled it to no end. To me, the name sounds Japanese, however I have since learned that the dish is Greek. To add to the confusion, papperdelle threw me off and then I thought it was Italian. However none of that matters because this dish was so damn good, I wanted to burn it into my brain so I could reproduce it.

Strong, bold flavours were the theme with this meal, with perfectly plump and

“bursty” prawns as the star.

(thanks TFP for the apt adjective)

Seasoning was spot on, the sweetness of the onion added depth and creamy fetta balanced the salt. My only thing was that I was craving lift… a gentle squeeze of lemon or a hit of chilli would have really kicked it into overdrive. But still, all very happy tummies and tongues with this dish.

Chermoula Pork Rib
Chermoula Pork Rib

Pork pork pork. If it’s on the menu I tend to drift towards it uncontrollably. If I see any middle eastern influence on dishes I tend to attack them too… so having a Moroccan flavoured Pork Rib just sends my tongue into some crazy frenzy.  This succulent Pork Rib was a very generously sized cut and full of flavour. The chermoula rub was perfect and not overpowering, allowing the pork to do the talking. Balancing this with the Apple Jus was wonderful. I love it when a pan is deglazed with something fruity. My only tidbit is I feel the pork was resting a possibly a minute too long and pushed the pork to the point of just on medium. I like my pork to be a tiny bit under with a blush of pink for added moisture. The dish was very well cooked, delicious and moist, but that little minute less would have made it perfect. The pop of the sugar snap peas is always a delight with its perfectly green skin and texture to boot. Balancing the act with a hefty helping of homemade sweet potato wedges was a fantastic choice. Pork loves sugar and these babies had some serious lovemaking moments. I loved this dish and I will be jumping on the Apple Jus train.

Being previously in the hospitality industry and living in Perth, one can run into people they know inadvertently on a regular basis. After devouring our meals, sharing our thoughts and considering the dessert menu, I spied someone standing next to me. It turns out, the person running the kitchen at Armada is the same person I had the pleasure of working with at the All Seasons hotel in Northbridge. Chef Amit Bahl came out of the kitchen beaming for a quick hello and catch up (it had been nearly 5 years). Such a wonderful surprise! I have to say, that when I originally read the menu there were elements of the dishes that sounded familiar. Chermoula Pork is something that reminded me of the menu at the All Seasons long ago and I was pleased to discover that his palate still sung a similar song to mine.

Sticky Date Pudding
Sticky Date Pudding

Before I get into the dessert thing… I have to say…

Desserts should be eaten with a teaspoon

and not a “dessert” spoon.

Why is this? Because I want to make the experience last as long as I can. I love savouring, tasting and teasing my way through dessert. I take my time, enjoy it and savour every bite. So it is because of this that I always request a teaspoon with my desserts.

No surprise, I am a sucker for certain desserts on a menu. Stick Date Pudding is like food for the soul. Salty, sweet and soft with lashings of creamy icecream. I simply couldn’t resist. The serving size was good. Not too generous and not undersized. Dessert portions are difficult to master. You don’t want to be served a massive slab because you end up hating yourself for finishing it (because seriously, who doesn’t finish a dessert? No room? Move a kidney, make it fit. It’s sticky date pudding). A meagre bite is not good enough… way too much of a tease. Chef Amit balanced it well and served me just enough so I could mop it up in all its glory. It was divine and moist and yum and sweet and stuff and all good things.

Espresso Panna Cotta
Espresso Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta… wobbly and jubbly. We ordered this instead of a coffee. Being on the Sticky Date train I didn’t give much thought to this dish. I love coffee and I love panna cotta, so this was a natural choice ticking two boxes. Distracted by my pudding I didn’t notice Adam really going for gold with this dessert… I was in my own little world. However when swap time came (because I make the poor thing share ALL our meals because I get food envy), I felt like I was cheating on my sticky date. I’m going to start off by saying that this little wobbly wonderful thing could have been easily served in its own right. There was absolutely no need for the coulis or the crumb (even though they were delicious).

It. Was. Fabulous. I wanted to dive into it and swim in the coffee creamy goodness.

It was the last thing I ate at the restaurant and it left me a very happy camper. To be honest, I really would have liked it by itself, or at least with accompaniments that allowed the panna cotta to really take charge. Never the less, I love it and will be back for it again.

Overall the service was excellent, the food very good and the decor has potential. It will take some time for this little place to find its feet but they have the resources to do it and do it well.

Give it a go, support them and spread the word.

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