Sunday, 8 August 2010

Binge – Fremantle Seafood Market

I just had lunch at the new-ish Fremantle Seafood Market yesterday. It’s my second time there. The first was about two months ago when it had just opened. The service then was rather rough at the edges and got me a little frayed on occasions. But this time round, they have clearly gotten their act together and I’m glad I made a return visit.

When you have such a day, ask for a table right next to the river’s edge. On a long weekend like this when we have a little more time to spare, sitting by the river over lunch, especially on a slightly overcast day when you aren’t sweltering in the heat, really had a holiday feel to it.

The inspiration here is, as its name states, Freemantle – that lovely port town in Perth, W Australia. The interior of the restaurant is done up to reflect the Victorian feel of that town, with old world posters, murals of the town, brick and dark wood. But I prefer the al fresco dining outside where it’s a lot lighter and breezy.

There’s nothing better than to bring your own wine ($30 corkage) and order a tiered seafood platter on ice to share. That’s what we did. They have increased the prices for these platters since my first visit – but even then, it remains reasonable. For $116, we shared Hearty Seafood Platter (enough for 3 people), with two tiers filled with at least half a dozen oysters, as many mussels, king crab, half a lobster, at least four kinds of sashimi including scallop, tuna and salmon, octopus, prawns in their shell, smoked fish, and some antipasti like stuffed peppers, olives and pickled jellyfish. The seafood was all very fresh, including the oysters which were superbly fresh. And that’s saying a lot from a person who really does not like oysters one bit! Even my young daughter who had not eaten oysters before slurped up two. Washed down with a well chilled Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, it was really a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

The Fremantle Salad was also very nice, mixed leaves and lots of flaked tuna with a poached egg on top, dressed in a light creamy dressing, and the seafood minestrone is a rich, hefty tomato-based soup with beans, celery and assorted seafood. The Catch of the Day is a fun option – you choose one of several kinds of fish (all filleted), pick your style of cooking (steamed, baked or grilled) and it’s served with two sides of the day. Another draw here is fish and chips ($19 and available for takeaway) and smoked fish platter ($15 for three types). I had the seafood bucket, comprising battered seafood, but I didn’t take to the batter much. For meat eaters, there’s wagyu lasagne and foie gras risotto. The load up on particularly good desserts - chocolate banana dome and the sticky date pudding.

All in all, for a mid-range restaurant, the food here is pretty good. Not middling and nondescript like many similar restaurants are, but quite a few notches up. For sure, it’s not going to knock your socks off, but you’ll enjoy it and the prices are not too painful either. And the setting is very nice – just pick the right weather for al fresco or hide away in the restaurant’s interior. (Pity there's no picture of the restaurant itself.)
- Ee Waun


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