Saturday, April 5, 2014

Cantina 663 - Mount Lawley

Cantina 663 is on the Beaufort Street strip and is next to, and across, and outside a small shopping arcade (the tables are kind of sprawled around). One of my favourite things about this European Canteen is that they don't have a static menu, you can try something different almost every time you go. The menu is oriented towards the ever so trendy philosophy of ordering plates to share, so we picked a few items and off we went!

Fried local Cuttlefish

The menu on their website says this comes with Lemon Aioli, but the menu we saw on the day had a much more exotic name for what was similar to an Aioli but was made with a green vegetable (pictured). Unfortunately I don't remember what it was. The cuttlefish was a lot like Squid, but either it was cooked perfectly, tenderised, or Cuttlefish doesn't suffer the same issues of chewiness as Squid. This was perfectly soft, yet not without texture and resistance to the tooth (al dente!) The spicing on the fish was reminiscent of something Moroccan - I think it may have even been described as such on the menu. Either way the slightly crunchy green vegetable with the spicy fish worked well.

Empanada with Chickpea filling

I have to confess I'm usually pretty lazy when I cook for myself at home. One of my favourite after-work meals to make is to throw a bunch of Beef mince in a pan, add some variety of Legume, some dry spice, and eat. One of my favourite flavours to add is Cumin, and one of my favourite Legumes to eat is Chickpeas. So when I saw these Empanadas on the menu I had to have one. The flavour of the sauce inside reminded me of a Curry Puff except a little more delicate. The pastry was crispy and a little crunchy and gave a buttery sweet flavour to the Empanada. 

Chorizo with House Pickles 

An excellent rendition of a classic flavour combination: crispy cooked Chorizo with slightly charred edges for that extra smokey taste, a good hit of Paprika and spice, and small amount of heat from the pepper. The pickled vegetables were nothing to write home about, but they were necessary to stop the Chorizo from becoming overwhelming.

Duck Salad
As we walked into the restaurant I saw a half-empty plate that two ladies were picking at. It had nothing but vegetables on it, it looked bereft of flavour, sad, and lifeless. I remarked to C, "let's make sure we don't get that". Turns out, it was the Duck Salad, and boy was I wrong to judge a book by its half-eaten cover. At first I was a little disappointed to discover we'd accidentally ordered the dish I'd promised myself I wouldn't get, and there didn't appear to be much Duck hiding under all that rabbit food. But the Duck was quite strongly flavoured and you really didn't need much of it at all. Each bite had an intense burst of Umami flavour which really did pair immensely well with the sweet Pear purée underneath and the crunchy pieces of radish, apple and Capers. This was definitely my favourite dish of the lunch.

Cantina 663 will continue to have a special place in my heart because of their commitment to seasonal food and an ever-changing menu, and their dedication to delicious food.

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