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Opposites attract
The West Australian Picture Gerald Moscarda

Idon't usually do funky but I'd had a bad week. The beloved and I had been to review two restaurants, neither of which came anywhere near being good enough to grace the pages of Fresh , so I was running desperately short of copy. A couple of weeks ago, while trying to park at Subiaco Station, I had noticed a place called Fire and Ice tucked away in a corner.

"Why not", we thought. "Let's live dangerously." So off we went.

Initially, I felt like Doctor Who, whose Tardis had malfunctioned. Had we re-materialised in the wrong place? Low lighting, divans and pouffes in turquoise regency stripes, black fringing partitions, whimsical bar stools with the legs and feet of a human, Gen Ys and Subi suits sipping mint juleps. It all looked very laid-back, shiny and eclectic. I asked a lass behind the bar wearing a black tutu dress for a table for two. "Are you out for a nice dinner?" she asked. "I'm sure you'll enjoy." And we did.

We began with a selection from the "grazing" section of the menu. This comprises tapas-type dishes for two. A crusted king prawn and spring pea risotto ball ($22) was right on the money - light, crisp and flavoursome - and the accompanying tomato pesto gave just the right contrapuntal bite. Chef Csaba Sellei is justifiably proud of his basque squid ($19) - exceptionally tender squid with a light, crisp glaze and a red pepper sauce. What makes the dish is smoked paprika, which imparts a distinctive smokehouse flavour. The crusted haloumi with grilled zucchini and broad bean salad ($22), though, was disappointing. We found it dry, rubbery and tasteless. But some grilled eggplant that came with it got a B+ from me.

The grazing serves were generous, so we never got to the rest of the menu, which looks interesting enough for a return trip, particularly the fried tamarind chicken ($34) and the Ligurian slow-cooked lamb with olives, rosemary and tomatoes ($58 for two). We did, however, manage to leave room for dessert.

Despite being bought-in, the sticky date pudding ($16) was as light as snow with a mellifluously viscous syrup. But the star of the evening was the cheese board ($25). It changes regularly and on the night we were there, we had very generous serves of an earthy, crumbly, salty gorgonzola; a lightly smoked Capel Vale cheddar; and a French brie that was "done" to perfection - oozing gently on to the platter, releasing a gorgeous hint of mushrooms.

The wine list I thought an interesting document. The whites are almost exclusively West Australian or New Zealand with wines by the glass at $12 to $16. Considering what they were, I thought them a tad pricey. Whites by the bottle were also a bit on the expensive side, but then there is a Voyager 2009 chardonnay at $64 which is not bad at all.

Similarly with the reds. This time mainly West Australian and South Australian, with a couple of very good Italian and French wines thrown in. Wines by the glass at between $14 and $18, and among the not inexpensively priced bottles, a 2009 Penfolds Bin 389 at $95. Curious.

The service was breezy and made us feel very much at home.

Fire and Ice
Address 5/50 Subiaco Square Road, Subiaco
Phone 9381 1400 Open Monday-Saturday: 10am till late
The buzz For a jaded baby boomer with retro tastes, this was a surprisingly pleasant experience. The kitchen - not just an afterthought to the bar - is serious about its food, some of which is very good. The Perth bar scene had better watch out. I could get used to this. Bye the bye, the DJ starts at 8pm - so if this is not your bag, eat early. On the other hand, cocktails are 2 for 1 after 8pm. Take your pick! 13.5/20