No longer rookies @ Lalla Rookh

Lalla Rookh, Perth CBD

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The first time I visited Lalla Rookh was a memorable experience that I had shared with some of my uni friends. I was pleasantly surprised as Lalla Rookh was still relatively new, yet it had already proven to be quite impressive. Initially, Lalla Rookh can be a little hard to find as you enter from street level to below ground (off St George’s Terrace in the city), but it has a bright sign at the entrance of the staircase that you cannot miss.

Last time I was here, it was almost packed. Lalla Rookh was filled with office workers, or professionals having a business dinner. It reminded me of when I was in Sydney, and I went to a few restaurants where they were packed (thank god I had a booking), and most of them being businessmen in their suit and ties, bonding over delicious food and wine. Anyways, enough of reminiscing…

This time around, there weren’t too many people at Lalla Rookh. It was the start of dinner time, quite possibly a bit early for dinner now (6pm, anyone?). I wanted to take my boyfriend to Lalla Rookh for quite some time now, so I decided to go after he finished work. We didn’t have a reservation, but they were able to seat us at the back, with the only ones being in the room (until about 30 minutes later). Lalla Rookh has different nooks everywhere where you can sit, have a chat or relax. The lighting is quite dark (which explains my awful photos).

The menu had changed since I last ate here. I had the chef’s selection (Il Capo) last time, which was definitely a highlight. The chef’s selection (Il Capo) was also a recommendation I always heard and saw from other people. So we ordered the il capo at $55 per head, and also asked them for the non-seafood variety, since my boyfriend is allergic.

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Complimentary zucchini focaccia

Our waitress gave us complimentary zucchini focaccia which was delicious with the olive oil that was on our table, free to use to our liking. The zucchini was subtle, and was enough for us to have something to munch on whilst we waited for our dishes.

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Roasted beetroot, witlof and toasted hazelnut salad (usually $14)

Our first dish was roasted beetroot, witlof and toasted hazelnut salad (usually $14). Honestly, this salad wasn’t too special, especially being our first dish. My boyfriend said it was less than average – it was OK. The thin slices of beetroot was fresh. There was a mellow flavour throughout, and not too strong – rather lack lustre. I would have liked it if it was a side with a meal. Oh well, hopefully the next dish will impress us.

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Fried ham hock and green pea croquettes (usually $14)

Second dish of the night was the fried ham hock and green pea croquettes (usually $14). This dish was the opposite of the last one. The croquettes were full of meat, really crunchy, and piping hot inside. There was so much flavour in these croquettes. It was really delicious, and got the tick of approval from my boyfriend.

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Polenta and prosciutto

Next up was polenta and prosciutto – I can’t quite remember the proper name of it. This one was a little bit interesting. Polenta isn’t always my favourite thing to eat in the world. It’s always sloppy, clunky, blah. So when it came out, our first reaction was, “uh oh, polenta”. We still gave it a shot, though. The polenta was just like how I always find it – sloppy. The prosciutto glistened in the light and was nice and chewy. The presentation, on the other hand, was like a slop with a small piece of meat on it.

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Tagliatelle with prosciutto and radicchio

Woohoo! Another winner! Definitely our favourite for the night. This was the tagliatelle with prosciutto and radicchio. We just wanted more, more and more. I would gladly just order this for dinner, plus one or two sides, and I’d be mighty satisfied. This pasta dish was just a simple one, but quite often, simple is best. It wasn’t heavy on the sauce, and the pasta was perfectly cooked. There were so many textures in the dish. Crunchy, chewy, yummy. We honestly fought for the last bite in the end.

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Italian sausage, peppers agrodolce style, pine nuts, and sultanas (usually $30)

Our second last dish of the night was the Italian sausage, peppers agrodolce style, pine nuts, and sultanas (usually $30). The sausage was nice but it was salty, however it went well with the peppers and sultanas that gave the sweetness in the dish. The sausage was packed full of meat so it was a bit hard to cut through. It was nice but just too salty for my liking. We were kind of disappointed as it was the only actual meat kind of dish out of the five.

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Pannacotta vera, with roasted cocoa and walnut crumble (usually $14)

The last dish was a pannacotta vera, with roasted cocoa and walnut crumble (usually $14). It was the perfect dish to end the night. The pannacotta was delicious, and had the perfect pannacotta wobble to it. There was so much crunch from the crumble. It was sweet but also bitter at times. I absolutely love pannacotta, and this fuelled my desire to make pannacotta of my own (which actually isn’t as hard as I thought it would be!).

So, as much as I wanted to impress my boyfriend with this restaurant that I had been raving about for many months, it was a bit disappointing. The pasta was definitely the highlight, which is something I think they excel at. I would also recommend nonna’s meatballs, which I had last time – it was the absolute bomb. I think next time, if I ever get the chance to go back, I wouldn’t get the chef’s selection, and stick to something I prefer. Lalla Rookh has a selection called “the whole pig”, which is something I definitely want to try out some time because every dish on there sounds so good. We originally wanted to get most things off that menu as well.

The place looks good and intimate with the dark lighting, but I found the dishes were quite expensive for the tiny portions that you get. The service was good but the prices  could be better. Meanwhile, I’m still dreaming about that tagliatelle and the pannacotta…

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

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Address: 77 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000

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Lalla Rookh Bar & Eating House on Urbanspoon

Bites:
  • Open Monday to Friday from 11:30am until midnight, and Saturdays for dinner from 5pm until midnight.
  • Bookings are recommended to secure a seat, through their website via Dimmi, or by ringing them on (08) 9325 7077.
  • Lalla Rookh also has a wine store (http://www.lallarookhwine.com.au) for all you wine lovers, where you can discover some Australian and internationally produced wine.
  • As always, parking is notoriously an issue in the city, so make sure you come early to snag free street parking.
  • Many of the dishes are gluten free for those who can’t take gluten!

– A.

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