If the Tour de France had a culinary equivalent it would be found at Perth's acclaimed degustation destination, Restaurant Amusé.
Its menu is a gastronomic marathon involving a fusion of cultures which meander through a number of provincial regions, resulting in a need to collapse at the finish line.
In just four years the team at Restaurant Amusé has received almost 20 industry awards and media accolades. However, in early 2007 husband and wife co-owners Hadleigh and Carolynne Troy had to beg people to take a chance on Hadleigh's cooking. These days there is a more than six-week wait for a Friday or weekend reservation.
In a town which generally associates the word Michelin with tyres, home-grown head chef Troy has spent many years abroad working in some of London's most acclaimed kitchens, including Madonna and Orlando Bloom's favourite Mayfair eatery, The Greenhouse. These days he and Carolynne combine fresh local produce with rare, limited edition wines, and lots of it.
The clinic of culinary genius is located on a quiet street tucked between the CBD and East Perth's riverside redevelopment in an understated, well-lit dining space.
On my visit, the fact the tables were not immaculately dressed in white linen became a distant memory as soon as the food began to arrive.
"We choose not to use table cloths as part of our commitment to water conservation," read the menu, which arrived in a sealed envelope.
As the freshly baked sour dough (made from Eden Valley Bio-Dynamic flour) served on hot rocks and with a bottle of Kailis Organic Olive Oil arrived, so too did the first wine from the Piedmonte region of Italy, a 2010 Capriata d'Orba 'Vigneta Masera' Gavi.
"I've never experienced real European-style service in Perth," my well-travelled dining companion commented after the sommelier presented the drop which could be described as the Miranda Kerr of wine - light and bouncy with hint of sweetness.
"You don't know whether to starve for a week or stretch your stomach beforehand," Carolynne said after the cutlery-free first dish of tender and plump Pemberton marron seasoned with white miso, lemon puree and soy beans was served.
"We encourage you to use your hands, get involved and have some fun with the first course," she said.
Next up was a 2009 Marlborough Pinot Gris from Isabel Estate, paired with the longest standing dish (Carolynne insists it remains a constant on the ever-changing menu) of beetroot, coffee and cocoa.
"Your tastebuds don't know where to focus, there's so many textures and diverse flavours," my dining companion said.
The ground coffee, cocoa and almond meal was topped with beetroot and Persian fetta, red wine vinegar granita and olive oil powder. It was a little riotous, bold and quirky, like kissing a cute stranger - something you should not do but pursue anyway out of curiosity.
As our dutiful and diligent sommelier poured the 2005 Chardonnay Viognier from the Swan Valley's Bella Ridge Estate, conversation turned to the age-old debate – what came first the chicken or the egg?
By the time the crispy Mount Baker chicken skin, chestnut polenta topped with a Kalbarri free range egg and generous shavings of Manjimup's black truffles arrived, we had the answer - they both arrived together in a closed jar laden with a hefty amount of cream and peas.
The dish was something even a cardiologist would find hard to resist and was one of the highlights of the night. The warmth and soft textures were accompanied by the sound of pouring rain outside, "I have not had anything this good in two years," my companion said as we both licked our spoons like greedy fat cats who got the cream.
Dish four was a little too serious and austere for our mood - a confit of Tasmanian ocean trout in olive oil, served with a purple carrot puree, a Shark Bay scallop and a red cabbage jus.
Just before I could schedule an appointment for gastric banding, a succulent pork belly had arrived. Cubes of tender, melt-in-your-mouth pork were made fresh and zesty thanks to mushrooms sourced from the back of Narrogin and Gingin roselle.
To calm our nerves at just how many courses remained, we discovered the 2010 Heathcote Sangiovese we were nursing was created by two mates under the label Foster e Rocco, one a chef and the other a sommelier.
But enough iPhone Googling, the next dish arrived all the way from White Rocks. It was veal reared about 140 kilometres south of Perth and served with veal tongue, Jerusalem artichokes, oxtail and a cube of hay-smoked Bannister Downs milk jelly that melted seductively over the carnivorous feast. A gutsy Argentinean 2007 Malbec joined the party and fitted right in.
The palate cleanser arrived next, indicating we were on the final stretch. The Chardonnay vinegar and lime cubes were biting and produced a grimace that Botox would not have cleared.
The deconstructed pumpkin cheesecake was dish eight and our will to stay in the race was waning. Right up to the last mouthful, the combination of cinnamon, Champagne and Japanese pumpkin had the right amount of sweetness and savoury components that even non-dessert lovers would enjoy.
To round out the evening, head chef Hadleigh introduced us to a party of Jersey Shore proportions - a Shima wasabi white chocolate topped with caramel powder and full of robust characters that fist-pumped their way across the tastebuds.
The end came with a sampling of creations worthy of a diabetic coma - fresh, hot doughnuts laden with rhubarb and strawberry jam, tonka bean marshmallows and lychee jubes.
I felt like Lance Armstrong standing on the winner's podium on the Champs-Élysées (although the winner's yellow jersey was now a little snug). The race was long - dinner took about four hours - and the sights we saw and tasted were diverse, different and delightful.
Degustation at Restaurant Amusé was disgustingly decadent but should be tried, if not for the food then for the service alone.
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- (08) 9325 4900
- Cuisine - Modern Australian
- Prices - 10-course degustation $125pp, $75 extra pp for wine pairing, no a la carte menu.
- Opening Hours - Dinner Tuesday – Saturday from 6.30pm
- Author - Jenna Clarke