Garrison Restaurant and Bar

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7 Forts Road, AlbanyPork2
Ph: (08) 9842 6654 

Standing to attention    

SITTING at the top of Mount Clarence on the outskirts of Albany, the recently opened Garrison Restaurant and Bar is vying to become the premier dining destination of WA’s Great Southern region. With its sweeping dining room views, smart wine list and clean, classical French–inspired food; the Garrison is well on its way to generating the kind of hype rarely seen in venues outside of Perth.
Once inside the welcoming and cosy Garrison, I was seated at a table on the southern side of the restaurant, with sweeping views of Vancouver Peninsula and King George Sound. Historical relics and icons from Australia’s involvement in the First World War are tastefully arranged in the dining room – but it still remains modern and clean. Beautiful glassware and plates, Laguiole cutlery, simple table adornments and not a white tablecloth in sight; this is how casual fine dining should be done.
Crab2Looking over the menu there is a clear emphasis on local produce with techniques that reflected both Owner/Chef Patron John Saville-Wright and Head Chef Josh Fletcher’s French cooking backgrounds. To kick things off I ordered the pork belly off their entrée menu. A lovely piece of pressed pork belly was served alongside pickled winter vegetables, which gave a sweet/sour crispness that complemented the pork wonderfully. Pork belly obviously contains a large amount of fat but this richness was tempered beautifully with the spiced plum puree, combining well with the pickled vegetables, capers and caper berries. It was matched with a 2012 Montefalco Sangiovese (Porongurup) cleansing the palate of the fatty pork whilst enhancing the sharpness of the pickles.
Next up was the crab dish: tempura soft shell crab with a crab beignet, fennel relish and an intensely flavoured squid ink sauce. This was an exercise in restraint and balance. The crab was coated in a light-as-a-feather tempura batter, adding a textural component without competing with the flavour of the meat. Served alongside the crab was a crab and herb fritter and a perfect quenelle of fennel relish, again balancing the sweetness with mild tones of aniseed and the slightly smoky squid ink sauce.
The one dish that I was craving in particular that cold afternoon was their lamb dish. A beautifully cooked (read blushing pink) piece of lamb rump was served alongside pieces of zucchini, a ricotta and mint beignet and pan-seared lamb sweetbreads. These gave a depth to the dish that went above the fat of the lamb, helping to build a flavour profile which matched beautifully with the 2013 Ollieux Romanis, Cuvee Classique (France). Oh, and I loved the fried mint leaves, another lovely textural change.
Finally came the beef: their version of a beef daube (normally a peasant’s casserole) was elevated further than its humblest origins could imagine. Beef cheeks areDSC_0059 slow-cooked
in red wine and herbs, then served alongside broccolini spears, confit shallots and a sweet carrot puree. The fork-tender cheeks are served with a beef cheek reduction that makes the meat even more unctuous than I thought possible. There is a balance there thanks to the mineral qualities of the broccolini and the diced turnip, whilst the carrot rounds it off.
Although Garrison has only been open for a short period of time, it’s clear that they are trying to raise the standard for dining options – not only in Albany, but for the Greater South. Clearly this is a venue with lofty ambitions, and with such amazing produce available, there is no reason why this won’t soon become the destination restaurant it is aiming to be.
By Wade Drummond    
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