Print Hall Bar & Dining Room, Perth CBD
It was the bestie’s birthday and I was keen to treat her somewhere special. We had a good run of quality restaurants with Sushia at Brookfield Place the previous week, so after jubilant cries of “Print Hall” from the bestie, I had finally succumbed to the pressure and settled on a Friday lunch there (after an intense dental check up by the birthday girl herself). We were shown to the front of Print Hall’s Dining Room, tucked away to the side of Print Hall’s cavernous bar. Through the glass doors we were given respite to the buoyancy outside – it was calm and reserved within the confines of the dining hall. I requested a table for two (no reservation) and we were seated beside a cabinet of wine bottles. I felt as though I had stepped into an up-market restaurant in New York City. Print Hall reminded me a bit of Cumulus Inc in Melbourne – marble tables, mahogany chairs, a wide well lit space with a broad wine cellar any sommelier would be envious of.
As our waitress sat us down, she placed gaudy jewelled accessories on our table, which also happened to be bag hooks, ensuring that my own Mimco white leather bag wasn’t tarnished by possible specks of dirt from the floor. It was a nice, considerate touch, reminding me of the hooks that were installed in Mamasita (also in Melbourne) which helped with the whole cumbersome/ limited space/ accessibility of phones issues during the dining experience. The bestie made an accurate observation as we took our seats; the clientele at Print Hall were predominately corporate suits, dressed up in crisp coloured shirts and bespoke attire, notching up the classiness value of our chosen dining spot. The magical, mind-reading staff at Print Hall also seemed to suspect that it was a special occasion as we were seated, which would be witnessed later.
As we sat, our waitress asked us what the special occasion was. Having not booked previously or even remotely informed anyone around us that the extravagant lunch was for the bestie’s birthday, I soon began to suspect that the staff at Print Hall were psychic. They would magically appear when we would need them the most and then congratulated the bestie for conquering another year of living. I was pleasantly surprised and pleased. On multiple occasions, the waitstaff stopped by on their way past to gather feedback on the dishes and to ask us if we had enjoyed the meal. Most of the time it was with a smile too! The waitstaff were so pleasurable and polite, undoubtedly because they were consummate professionals.
There was a bit of a wait for the dining menus after we ordered tap water. Meanwhile, we consulted the leather bound drinks menu, which felt like a tome in itself. Our waitress asked us if we wanted drinks, leaving us with more than a few options. In the end we settled for two mocktails; one pineapple flavoured and the other strawberry flavoured ($10 each). Each mocktail was a combination of soda water and muddled fruit. They were tall and pretty, with a bit too much crushed ice, but were simply refreshing. Offers of oysters were rejected, as I am not the biggest oysters person in the world and the bestie seemed to be rather reserved that day, specifically when it came to ordering. “It’s your birthday!” I proclaimed. “It’s okay to splurge a little!”
We had barely a few sips of our drinks when a waiter with a brilliant, Californian smile placed a complimentary entrée on our table. He introduced the dish as Print Hall’s interpretation of the common Cheese and Crackers. Simply put, I was immediately smitten by it. I listened intently as he informed us the cheese was a combination of whipped feta, crème fraiche and mascarpone. Sprinkled around the border was a delightful Parmesan crisp and olive crumb, as well as flecks of dill. The crackers were made of brown rice and potatoes, sprinkled with what appeared to be some form of pepper.
The waiter suggested we begin with dipping a cracker into the middle of the dish and drag outwards, in order to capture all the flavours and textures at once. The cheese was soften and silken, with the mildest lemony acidity. The parmesan and olive crumb could have become overpowering, but in its minuscule portions, it added texture, an earthy sharpness and brininess to the whole dish. The crackers reminded me of the prawn crackers you get at traditional Chinese restaurants, but a healthier, less oil-saturated version. With a brittle snap, we followed the waiter’s recommendations and our tongues waggled in delight. What a prelude to a magnificent forthcoming meal.
I must have misunderstood our maitre’d as she informed us of the menu and the ordering process, because as I placed the order, she abruptly informed me that we were supposed to order a dish a piece from each of the four courses, identified by their labeled number. The first two courses were starter dishes, the third were the main courses and the fourth course including desserts. I had it in my head that the dishes were to share as opposed to having multiple individual courses, which in hindsight was pretty silly of me as she did mention that it was a “degustation style” menu. After a few clarifications, I decided that the bestie and I would share one a piece from courses “one” and “two” before having a main each. Dessert, we figured, would be best decided for later, after an evaluation of how full we were. A lovely man arrived with a basket of sliced bread, giving us the option of white, rye or multigrain. I went for white, as did the bestie, and the sourdough was popped onto our table, along with a disc of butter. The man circled back around again after I had devoured my piece, offering me another one that I gladly accepted. Thank you well timed service.
Our entrée bolted from the kitchen, merely seconds after we had finished the bread. The blue manner crab ($20) reflected a cultivated sculpture of the sea. The curry wafer crisp stood atop the swirls of golden egg yolk mayonnaise, drawing visual comparisons to delicate seaweed or coral on spiral seashells. It laid on a bed of lightly curried egg, diced with exceptional care, as well as meticulous slices of cucumber and spots of avruga caviar. The curry wafer was airy and crisp, with a sheer of spice. The egg yolk was buttery and rich, with a balanced acidity. The caviar popped in the mouth, but it was the Mandurah Blue Manner Crab which rightfully was the highlight of the dish – with a delicate sweetness and a moist, feathery fineness, it made the dish. A clean and creative starter to the meal.
One of the recited specials of the day from the second course included the pressed pork jaw ($20). Beneath it was a medley of cabbage and bacon. Off to the side was a date puree and a confit onion. Our maitre’d had informed us that the pork jaw was a cut taken from the lower portion of the pig’s face, near the cheek. As it were, it was a beautiful oblong of meat very similar to traditional pork belly. It was succulent with melt-in-the-mouth meat and the thin layer of crackling on top was sublime. It sported a sharp crack when our knives hit the centre of the amber skin and it shattered in our mouths. It was a rustic, earthy dish with a twist – the shredded cabbage was flavoured nicely with the saltiness of the bacon, and the texture of the cabbage was rather chewy and seaweed-like in texture. The date puree was smooth with a nutty sweetness, working well with the pork itself. The confit onion fell apart easily, shredding layers of sticky caramelized onion. It was the bestie’s favourite dish of the day.
By this point I was about half full, so when our mains arrived, I wished we had ordered one to share between the two of us. Between the two entrees, the bread and the cheese and crackers, I was still in digestion mode, but met my main with gusto nonetheless. My wood grilled Cape Grim sirloin ($40) was a thick round of meat, cooked rare and smoked with truffle. It had a lovely charred exterior, with the middle juicy and pink. The cut of beef itself wasn’t exactly the melt in the mouth consistency I’ve had with top of the range meats, but it was still very nice. It was also a day of adventure for me, as I had never tried sweetbreads or smoked marrow prior to the lunch, both which were main components of the dish. The veal sweetbread was pink inside, veined in thick ropes of fat. It was a rich, meaty piece, rather substantial on the plate with a slight metallic aftertaste. The bone marrow was a translucent gelatinous tube that collapsed easily once inside the mouth, which had an aromatic smoky flavour.
I only had a bit of the bestie’s roast Wagin free range duck ($40) which had been executed three ways – confit duck leg, duck breast and smoked duck tongue. I had a bit of the tongue and immediately could taste the iron – it was a bit too overpowering for me, but the bestie thoroughly enjoyed the dish. It came with a velvety eggplant puree and marjoram, a green oregano-like herb.
We were bursting at the seams by this point, at which time a palate cleanser arrived. I had interrupted myself in the middle of a passionate rant in order to ogle at several glasses filled with bright tropical colours, watching them whiz by to another table. The bestie and I had deduced it was some form of dessert. As luck would have it, it was the complimentary palate cleanser. The palate cleanser was a bright delight, a combination of dry freeze mandarin, raspberry espuma and aloe vera jelly. There was a zing and zap as soon as we put it into our mouth. Sharp, tart and sweet all at once. The dry freeze mandarin was a separate revelation on its own – a tad sweet with the consistency of a light honeycomb, crumbling instantaneously. The palate cleanser definitely achieved its designed purpose because I sure felt refreshed for dessert!
We requested the dessert menu, in which our waiter, with his well tailored suit, proclaimed that it was perfectly fine we sought further food despite us being really full (no judgment at Print Hall it seemed). We decided on the Valrhona chocolate boule ($20) with raspberry, lemon and gold. The dish reminded me much of the ‘textures of chocolate’ dessert I had at The Butterworth, a creative working of high-grade chocolate. There was the rich chocolate boule, columns of dark chocolate (almost with a dehydrated chocolate texture), two quenelles of decadent chocolate mousse, all which were accompanied by a swirling chocolate biscuit and a chocolate crumb. The chocolate boule was a dome of mousse, cloaked in a rich ganache and spritzed with gold. Being a self-confessed chocoholic, it was my ultimate dessert.
With its simplistic sub headings, it left much up to the imagination to see what the raspberry, lemon and gold would consist of on the plate – the raspberries were fresh, halved and seated on a blob of lemon jelly. The lemon jelly was potently acidic, working to clear the heaviness of the chocolate. The gold was a delicate paint splatter on the Valrhona chocolate boule. We also got a special surprise on our dessert as well, in the form of a chocolate piped biscuit plaque that said “Happy Birthday!” A luxurious dessert that the bestie adored.
We felt as though we had outstayed our welcome at the end of our dessert (we are both notorious for late dining on weekdays, making kitchen staff seethe at our tardiness), so we quickly got up to leave. As we were searching for staff to settle the bill, our petite fours (also complimentary) came up the aisle. I felt bad for rushing and we sat down to enjoy the duo. There were two buttery, crumbling chocolate chip biscuits and alongside that two slabs of raspberry jelly, which was rather sticky and glutinous in texture. A nice end to the meal!
The service was polished, professional and some of the best you will receive in Perth. Napkins were picked up, folded elegantly and laid across the table. Chairs were pulled out for the bestie as she returned from the toilet, the staff almost sprinting up the aisle to do so. Apart from the slight hiccup with understanding the dining concept during the ordering period, the service was mostly consistent. The men in particular that day had some dazzling smiles, sure to win over the harshest food critic! Overall, it showcased some highly trained staff and set a standard for proficiency in Perth. The bill was $170 in total and at the end of it, both the bestie and I were completely stuffed. We felt that we had been quite experimental that day with our food choices, making our unrefined palates a little bit more mature. Best of all, they knew how to make you feel special – the Happy Birthday plaque confirmed it! Our experience at Print Hall was a memorable experience, inflated by the high quality of food, the impeccable service and the stylish ambiance. I can’t wait to try it again!
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Address: Ground Floor, Brookfield Pl, 125 St Georges Terrace Perth CBD 6000
- Print Hall Bar & Dining Room is open for lunch and dinner on Monday to Friday (11.30am to 12am) and on Saturday (4pm to 12am). The Dining Room is only open for dinner at 6pm on Saturday.
- Print Hall has a number of function and dining spaces for any special occasion (seasonal function packs available on their website).
- Bookings available via phone (contact number: 6282 0000).