The Loose Box – Perth (lots of ducks and i’m not just talking confit)
During our one week visit to Perth, we were determined to try the famous French restaurant, The Loose Box which is located in a leafy, somewhat far far away suburb called Mundaring. We had no idea where Mundaring was, and we didn’t have a car, so it was a 45-50minute cab ride to get to the restaurant. It was very dark, rainy and cold outside and I’ll be honest here, if we disappeared probably no one would find us for quite a while.
But finally we arrived, to a brightly lit sign and a lovely little driveway in a cottage and the restaurant.
There are ducks everywhere in the restaurant. Not real ones (they are on the menu) but ducks are depicted in paintings and watching from above the cosy fireplace.
The painting depicts the owner Alain Fabregues himself. Upon arrival, the place feels more like someone’s home rather than a gourmet restaurant and that is one of the reasons why so many visitors come deliberately to eat at this restaurant. Before you are shown to your table, you have time to sit, relax and have a drink. It is exactly like your lounge room at home. Only mine is not as neat. And I don’t have a fireplace. That’s probably a good thing (for insurance purposes anyway).
Walking to our table, we observed the liquor table. How could you not, it was filled with liquors from all around the world.
Of course if you come to The Loose Box, you have to try their 8-course degustation menu which at the time of writing included the following:
Coconut and Prawn Broth
Les Gambas a La Singalaise
Le Saumon de Tasmanie d’eau Profonde et La Saint Jacques de Shark Bay aux aromates
Escargots a la Bordelaise en Pate de Brick sur Ratatouille Provencale
Le Confit de Canard au poivre
Le Cygne Majestueux en Voyage sur son Lac de Framboises
Or Le Fromage
Selection of homemade petit fours (with coffee and selected teas)
What we didn’t know was that you have the choice to alternate between the main menu and the vegetarian menu as you please, and that flexibility is great and really distinguishes this restaurant from the rest.
While pondering the menu, beautiful warm sourdough bread arrived and hands down, this was THE BEST bread I have ever tasted. Ever. Baked on premises, the inside was warm, just the right amount of holes in the bread, a tinge of saltiness, chewy centre. Crispy browned crust. It was so good, we ate two. Knowing this may mean suffering later in the menu. At this stage, we didn’t care.
Being in Perth, we had to try the famous Manjimup truffle. We decided to replace only the first course on our original degustation menu with the first course from the vegetarian menu. We asked for the option of having Manjimup truffles shaved on top of the first course, which comes at a $15 supplement.
Rich and creamy soup contrasted with the sharp taste of the Manjimup truffle. The delicate shavings of truffle were crisp and did not lose its texture even when immersed in the soup. I always prefer truffle in its oil form rather than as shavings. I know that is counterintuitive in terms of quality however I find when infused in oil the true flavour of truffle comes out and highlights the dish. On it’s own, the taste is not so clear.
The soup was served with a salted and toasted sourdough which was delicate and crisp. The saltiness added just the right flavour as you took a spoonful of the soup which was light on salt.
As we were eating this first course, we were lucky enough to get a chance to speak to Alain himself and he kindly autographed a copy of his cookbook that we purchased.
Alain explained that he had his own black truffle farm which was due to mature next year (on average he said it takes 7 years for the truffle to reach maturity). It was, in his own words, his retirement plan.
You can guess what drew our immediate attention – the worm made from chewy dough. The tomato and zucchini was refreshing when eaten with the fresh thinly sliced cured salmon. The tiger prawn was located under all the commotion but the star of the dish was really the salsa, providing a tanginess to the dish and a good kick-start to the palette.
Thankfully I’ve since overcome my small phobia, so at The Loose Box I reunited with Le Snail. This version came wrapped in crispy pastry that reminded me of the fried spring rolls at yumcha, albeit much less greasy and much more refined. J. This one actually tasted pretty good, but still, I can’t say that snail in general is my favourite meat but I can at least appreciate the chewy texture of the meat. Because the meat itself does not hold a great deal of flavour, it actually carries the flavour of the sauce pretty well so in this instance you actually tasted the full burst of flavour from the rich tomato and chilli sauce. The chilli was subtle. The ratatouille came in the form of impossibly thin cuts of zucchini and potato stacked, as you would guess, one on top of another. If I attempted to cut my vegetables that thinly at home, let’s just say the dish wouldn’t be served with “tomato” sauce…
The duck was the best duck we’ve ever had. The meat fell away from the bone with a gentle prod of the fork and the the frothy pepper sauce only added to the deep flavour of the meat. The cut of potato which sat under the duck served to elevate it from the sea of sauce so the sole flavour of the duck was protected.
Do you notice the quality of the photo at this stage is not that great? This reflected the mood of my stomach, which by now was struggling to process the quantity and speed of food that was heaped into it to digest. Seriously, the only way we could have ‘taken in’ any more savoury food was through osmosis. We could not finish the duck, which was a shame because it was delicious.
Don’t even get me started on the brussel sprouts. I probably only ate one? And it did taste very good. The bacon added a nice smoky flavour to the richness of the cream. You could make any kid eat their brussel sprouts if cooked in this manner. We were just too full to appreciate it so we had to stop. It was a pity because if we could take away the remainder of the dish we would have. I think I need to buy a house in Perth just so I have a place to take my food leftovers to. We felt very bad sending it to the kitchen barely touched.
The highlight dish of the night. Not to mention probably one of the prettiest dishes I have ever seen and not something I can create easily at home. The vanilla bean ice cream was very fragrant and creamy. The fine tuille biscuit reminded me of Crostoli, my favourite Italian pastry but this one was much more refined in texture. It was so pretty that it was quite hard breaking up the delicate pastry. The swan sat on a lake of thick raspberry sauce with apricot coulis on the outside to frame the raspberry lake. It was the perfect finish to a flawless meal.
We barely had enough room for tea, and the restaurant was kind enough to offer us the petite fours as a takeaway item, an ideal breakfast box for the next day
This restaurant was the highlight of our short visit to Perth and the chance to meet Alain was unforgettable. His love of food shows with every dish that is produced by his team. Combined with friendly service and nice surrounds, it’s the perfect ‘occasion’ restaurant. Don’t miss the chance to try this rare gem.
6825 Great Eastern Highway,
(08) 9295 1787