150 EAST Riverside Bar Restaurant

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Assured Ascot Quays
150 Great eastern Highway, Ascot
Ph: (08) 9479 0099
The Element of Surprise

THe team at 150 EAST is young, vibrant and experimental.
In the words of Food and Beverage Manager Gavin Fyffe: “We’re a bunch of young foodies, all under 30 and we like to have fun with it.”
The team of seven chefs is headed by executive Chef Dan Child who explains that while they are all from different countries and food backgrounds, they are united in their passion for creating surprising new combinations of flavours and textures. What he loves most about the team is their collaborative creative approach that involves working closely with feedback from their customers.
Every diner is invited to take part in the ongoing evolution of the menu via a feedback card and each night the chefs on duty go through the cards and take note of suggestions and areas of potential improvement. At a weekly meeting feedback is discussed along with updates on what is freshest and best in the markets and new ideas for the specials menu are born.
In Dan’s words: “It’s with the specials where our new ideas come out first. We pool our ideas in the meetings and extend on each other’s suggestions, and that’s where we share skills that each has from their own background and training, so we are all constantly learning new things.”
Located overlooking the river within Assured Ascot Quays Apartment Hotel on Great eastern Highway, near the corner of Stoneham Street, with abundant free onsite parking, a recent refurbishment has given the three parts of the restaurant decidedly different atmospheres. The mood in the main room is set by the sparkly chandeliers twinkling romantically over an otherwise understated dark brown decor. This is offset with anoccasional splash of pale blue velvet and a row of screens over the bar that simply feature rising bubbles, playfully hinting that you may have been secretly transported to an undersea location.
Beyond the restaurant is the conservatory, enclosed by glass on three sides with options for various parts to open up to the outside air, depending on the weather. The conservatory’s most striking feature is its river view. The water is so close that a good bowling arm could probably land a bread roll in it. The riverbank is a pleasant patch of grass and Gavin explains that this has made the restaurant popular as a wedding reception venue with a picturesque wedding photo location. The conservatory seats 80 wedding (or other function) guests and the whole restaurant combined extends that to 150.
During 2012 the restaurant catered for large number of weddings and Dan added that the team of chefs take a personalised approach to catering for each function, discussing what’s fresh, what the people involved like, and crafting a unique menu for each occasion. Its picturesque setting on the banks of the Swan River makes this venue perfect for weddings.
Asked to describe his personal sources of culinary inspiration, Dan names the pioneers in molecular gastronomy, such as Heston Blumenthal. He confesses to a love of chemistry back at school and a penchant for experimentation in his own kitchen to build up his repertoire of flavour-texture combinations and his skills in performing kitchen miracles like turning oil and honey into dust, generate mountains of flavoured froth and gels from fresh ingredients.

He says: “My aim in planning dishes for 150 EAST is for each dish to educate the customers’ palates about something new, rather than simply meeting their expectations of what a dish should traditionally be like.”
The ravioli entree is a good example – a single round pocket of pasta about the size of a drink coaster, floating in a pool of smooth pumpkin purée and topped with a towering peak of smooth white froth. The foam is a fusion of soy lecithin and rosemary from the restaurant garden (delicately charred to bring out its rich flavours). A sprinkle of rosemary flowers over the top adds the element of concern for the visual art of plating up that characterizes the restaurant’s ambitions.
Other surprises on the autumn menu were the pork belly and octopus dish that was visually stunning with the purple tentacle curling around the glossy meat. Dan explained that mature octopus is a rarity on WA menus because not many chefs have learnt the art of triple blanching to force the muscles to relax, rendering it soft and tender in the mouth.
The paper-thin beef carpaccio was delightful (matched with Babich Black Label 2012 Sauv Blanc) with its light tuna dressing and sprinkling of fresh microherbs. The confit salmon was visually stunning (and tasty), surrounded by bright beads of beetroot and apple gel. But my personal favourite was the pan-fried venison with silverbeet and baby beetroots, on a thick puree made of carrot and white chocolate, with a bitter chocolate jus drizzled over the top.
Savoury chocolate dishes are rare and all too often involve the chocolate-chilli cliché or fail by being too sweet. This did none of those unfortunate things and will have me going back to try it again. If, like me, you like to cheat when ordering by asking the exec chef his menu favourite, he’ll concur this dish is a standout.
We also sampled some of the desserts and were again surprised. On the cheeseboard, the lavash was homemade and the raisins were dried in a slow oven over three days leaving them juicy and deliciously sticky. The rice pudding with lavender cream and apple crisps was a tasty talking point and went beautifully with the 2011 evodia Granache we’d been drinking with the venison. It’s great when a wine matches two courses so well.
Gavin said Friday and Saturday nights fill up with folks meeting up at the bar for a few drinks and many of them stay on to share food from the snacks menu. They also have a regular stream of business breakfast meetings for large and small groups needing a quiet place to explore ideas. We visited for a late lunch on a weekday afternoon and found it quiet enough to have a relaxed, almost holiday-like atmosphere.
Whenever you decide to explore 150 EAST, remember to expect the unexpected and enjoy the adventure.

By Dr Kayt Davies
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