City smarts with dignity
Picture: Iain Gillespie

King Street is an interesting street. At one end, there is the gravitas of Louis Vuitton and the opera crowd; towards Murray Street, the earthiness of the Belgian Beer Cafe; then further on, the cheeky insouciance of Uncle Joe's Mess Hall.

At the Hay Street end of this hodgepodge of humanity is the Ridges Hotel's CBD Bar and Restaurant and it cleverly caters to most of it. Fronting Hay Street is an alfresco area, behind which is the sportsman's bar.

Fronting King Street is the posh area, screened off from the hoi polloi by the service desk and strategically placed pillars. And despite the conglomeration of its customers, it still manages to retain the gravitas appropriate to a four-star hotel.

The menu is clever, too. For the dude or dudess, there is a beef burger, steak sandwich, or fish and chips (all $25); a range of steaks ($45-$60), all with an address and a choice of five sauces ($4). According to a four-and-a-half year old I know, they make the best wood-fired pizzas in town and, having tried their pepperoni, chorizo, ham, onion, capsicum, mushroom, and olive ($19.50), I'm inclined to agree with her - a perfectly crisp edge with a light, airy base and a balanced topping.

At a recent dinner, I kicked off with seared scallops, cauliflower puree, crispy pork belly, chilli and herb dressing ($18.50). Beautifully presented, the scallops were lightly seared to ensure a moist interior, the pork belly had a rather fetching light "dusting" of crisp, and the cauliflower puree was light and creamy.

My beloved and her friend shared the spiced crisp cuttlefish ($16.50), which was precisely that. The wasabi mayonnaise which came with it could have done with a bit more wallop.

I was somewhat taken aback by the size of the serrated knife they gave me for my next course - pistachio crusted lamb rack ($46). I needed it though. The rack was enormous, cooked to bloody perfection, and I ended up picking the bones clean. The Paris mash it came with was near perfect.

The beloved's linguine carbonara ($29.50) was precisely cooked, and the pecorino and parsley cream sauce was seductively luxurious.

The friend said her macadamia- crusted chicken breast was "succulent"; I thought it bland.

Surprisingly, all the dishes came on cold plates - which for this type of eatery is unforgiveable.

Desserts (all $14.50) were a mixed bag. On a previous occasion, I have had the trifle, which was stunning. There were supposed to be berries and sponge cake in this one but, if so, they got lost in an overdose of chocolate sauce - I never thought I'd tire of chocolate.

Chocolate fondant - a chocolate cake filled with liquid chocolate - got my beloved's seal of approval but the vanilla creme brulee was overcooked and consequently too thick.

I do wish chefs would make creme brulee with a proper creme Anglaise rather than a baked custard.

The wine list is pretty impressive, if a tad on the expensive side - particularly as most bottles are current vintage.

Service was willing but occasionally deficient, mainly I suspect, because of poor induction training.

CBD Bar and Restaurant

Address 815 Hay Street, Perth

Phone 9263 1800

Open Monday-Friday: Breakfast 6-10am; Saturday-Sunday: Breakfast 6.30-10.30am; Monday-Sunday: Lunch: 11am-5pm; Dinner: 5-10pm; Drinks until midnight

The buzz Trying to be all things to all people can be a recipe for disaster but, given the range of its clientele, the CBD has made a pretty good fist of it with an intelligent approach to its menu.

14/20

The West Australian

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