Caversham House, Caversham
Birthdays can be pretty stressful experiences, especially if it falls upon you to choose the key location for good food and wine. There is the sense of expectation that comes with being the foodie in your family or social circle – people turn to you regularly to select a place that caters for the number of people dining, a specific cuisine, the selected time and date, as well as being a venue that is within everyone’s price range. Luckily, my family are a group of relatively easygoing people, so they weren’t too fussed about where we would be dining. However, you can’t help but feel a little pressured when finding a place that will be suitable for that specific special occasion.
Caversham House in Swan Valley is barely a 10-minute drive from my house. My mother hadn’t particularly wanted to go back to Swan Valley (our last three family dining ventures had been there), however I was insistent. I was going to surprise them this time around, with the merits the Swan Valley region had to offer.
Storms had been forecast for the afternoon, so I was feeling a tad of trepidation, but as we stepped outside, the weather was absolutely perfect – sun kissed and not too cold, ultimately a pleasant winter’s day! I had booked for 6 people at 1.30pm on a Sunday and our booking had been taken the day previously, with no worries at all.
First off the bat, Caversham House is beautiful. Like, wedding venue beautiful – an apt descriptor, as it is a famed wedding venue in the region. When we arrived, it looked like a wedding had been held perhaps in the morning or the previous day. White marquees fluttered about and the little function room just outside the restaurant had rows of pretty vintage chairs. We stepped inside the restaurant and I was immediately taken by how small the restaurant was – there were seven tables, with our table of 6 being the biggest. Elegance blossomed in every corner – there was a sparkling chandelier, a marble fireplace and walls of ivory white. Next to the room appeared to be another function room, sectioned off by a sweeping grey curtain. At the back was a black leather decked lounge that screamed the 1950’s.
We were taken to our table, with the cutlery painstakingly laid out. It reminded of one of my favourite quotes from the hit TV show New Girl by Nick Miller: “This place is fancy and I don’t know which fork to kill myself with.” It’s a particularly hilarious quote that comes to mind (and launches me into a fit of giggles) when faced with half a dozen silverware choices. The wine glasses were also stamped with Caversham House’s logo, which was another touch of grace and class.
The staff at Caversham House are paramount professionals – cloth napkins laid on our laps, jugs of ice water placed on the table, followed by leather bound menus. We decided to buy a first course of bread – something our family sometimes indulges in, in order to keep the hunger at bay. Caversham House had house made bread ($3 per person), which was served with extra virgin olive oil and sundried capsicum and olive butter. The multigrain bread came in halved rounds, with a toasty crust and a deliciously moist, warm interior. Bread is one of life’s simple pleasures, and Caversham House sure knew how to work it – my dad compared it with damper, with its spongy texture. The prize went to the sundried capsicum and olive butter, which was not only vivid in colour but also added a Mediterranean feel to our very first appetiser.
Dad also felt like something else sizeable for his entrée, so he ordered the slow roasted pork belly ($19). The pork belly itself was wonderfully cooked – succulent meat that had a delicate snap and crackle from the topmost layer. The seeded mustard mashed potato was nutty, a complex sweetness coming from the rich jus splashed across the dish. The apple and vanilla puree was also very nice, as were the caramelised apple balls, which added a nice crunch to the dish.
The service at Caversham House was so considerate, that we didn’t even have to ask for them to bring out the kid’s food first. My brother’s cheese burger ($13) came whizzing out of the kitchen mere minutes after our entrée dishes were cleared up. We noted that, one, this was a step up from fast food burgers – the bread was something of the brioche variety, with its trademark gleam. Secondly, it had a HUGE patty packed inside it, which dripped with juices with every bite my brother scoffed down. It also came with fries,a fresh salad and some tomato sauce, which would make any child exultant.
My sister’s boyfriend ordered the char-grilled loin of pork ($39), which came with a zucchini rosti, roast pear, baby beetroot, rolled crackle and sage jus. I was lucky enough to try a bite of the pork, which was lip smacking good. It’s so easy to overcook pork, but this one was lovely and tender. Everything else was cooked well, which was a good sign for the rest of the mains that were to come!
My mum ordered the salt-water barramundi ($39), which came with roasted corn and asparagus salad, sundried tomato cake, lemon nage and crispy white bait. Mum’s fish was exquisitely moist, but lacked that crispy skin that some barramundi dishes possess. She was particularly impressed by the white bait and the sundried tomato and potato cake. The corn asparagus salad acted like a colourful salsa.
The fillet of beef ($39) was my dish, which came served with a potato fondant, parsnip puree, baby vegetables and traditional wine jus. I was really craving a steak that day, and Caversham House didn’t let me down. The steak was a fine piece of meat, with a bit of height to it. I had requested it medium rare and it appeared to be more on the medium side, but I was still really pleased with it. It was tender and easy to masticate, the mark of a quality red meat purchase. The parsnip puree was smooth, with the red wine jus wrapping everything in a magnificent bundle. The potato fondant was a column version of the humble roast potato, complimented by a small cylinder of eggplant, carrot and asparagus, all which had been immaculately cooked. What a dish!
My sister’s breast of chicken ($39) was moist, stuffed with bocconcini, thyme roasted cherry tomatoes, corn puree and a pancetta rosti. My sister placed a portion of chicken considerately on the border of my plate, and I was immediately smitten by it. Chicken breast isn’t my favourite selection (I’m more of a thighs person), but this one was well cooked and seasoned generously with lemon and herbs, giving the chicken some great flavour.
We polished off our mains and quickly moved onto dessert. My brother ordered the monstrosity that was the Knickerbocker Glory ($10), the only dessert option on the children’s menu. I get a bit fearful when the foremost name of any dish exceeds three syllables, just because it could be a rather complicated contraption – luckily, the Knickerbocker Glory was pretty straightforward, a sundae of vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, raspberry coulis and marshmallows. The dessert was topped with a chocolate wafer which my brother couldn’t finish it – rightly so, the whole thing was just huge, a tower of sugar.
My lemon delicious ($15) was a square of lemon syrup cake, which gave me a smack of acidity as soon as I put it into my mouth – it had a lovely light, fluffy texture singing with notes of citrus. The strawberry compote was a nice accompaniment, and the vanilla anglaise was standard. The brandy snap ring added an arty, abstract element to the dish, and tasted like a giant honey crackle (my 13-year-old brother’s words, which was received by murmurs of agreement by everyone at the table). The block of chestnut parfait didn’t have a lot of chestnut flavour to it, but it had the best texture – almost marshmallow-like in consistency and was very generous in quantity.
My dad opted for the banana mascarpone mousse ($15), which was accompanied with banana compote, Italian meringue and caramelised peanut puree. Dad said he could really taste the potent flavour of the banana, and the plating presentation was very impressive. I had it in my head that the mousse would come in a martini glass, but I shouldn’t have underestimated Caversham House’s penchant for refined modern dining – my favourite element was the banana pieces frozen in glassy caramel, which was very inventive and looked striking on the plate.
We used our Entertainment Cards, resulting in our total bill being around the $200 mark – we were pretty chuffed with the discount, and the service had been on the ball from the get go. Our main waitress worked in a straightforward manner, quickly and cleanly. We were checked up on multiple occasions by the restaurant director Davide, who was easily charming. Water was filled up on many instances, and the food was incredibly timely. It was fine dining done well, upholding a high standard of quality control. On top of this, it wasn’t only just refined food, but very family friendly, by including a children’s menu.
Best of all is the post-lunch walk. Down the limestone stairs of Caversham House hides a gushing waterfall, moss covered walls, statues and a jetty leading out to the bubbling Swan River. It is exactly like something out of the Secret Garden, picturesque and perfect for photo taking opportunities. Also, their lawn is immaculate. Who is their gardener?
Sometimes you get places around Perth that inflate their prices due to the views, but there are those rare moments when you get everything you could possibly need in a memorable dining experience. Caversham House was one of those examples, which boasted green pastures, great service and wonderful food. If you are looking for a place to take family out, from interstate or overseas, Caversham House would be your best bet.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Address: 141 Caversham Avenue, Caversham 6055
- Open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch (11.30pm to 3pm, last orders at 2.30pm).
- Entertainment Book Gold Card discount, one complimentary main course for when another main course of greater or equal value is purchased (up to $40 in value).
- Reservations available, contact Davide at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (08) 9279 1167.