Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lapa, Brazilian Restaurant in Subiaco (Perth, Western Australia)

20 December 2011

Chicken medallions wrapped
in deliciously crisp bacon!
I happened to chance upon Lapa with one of my besties, Simon, one evening when we had been smoking too many cigars and imbibing too much single malt, and suddenly realised that we had missed dinner and were starving. I had also inadvertently got another mate Frank in trouble with the missus in the process (something about getting home later than expected - why don't wives understand that sometimes we need to make sacrifices when talking business? "Baby I do this for you, not for me" should be all that needs to be said).

It was only the second day since Lapa officially opened, and they were extremely obliging about letting us in, given the fact that it was already past 10pm when we turned up.  Wow, a Perth restaurant that keeps its kitchen open after 10pm.  Sad to say, that is truly something special and rare - rarer indeed than the limited edition cigars and vintage single malt that we were consuming beforehand.

This is certainly a place that has been designed to impress and entertain.  As soon as you are seated, you can't help noticing the sleek stainless steel designer kitchen through the massive viewing window.  For those patrons sitting farther away, there's a TV screen to ensure that you don't miss the in-kitchen action.  When you sit down, you notice the Lapa-branded meat knive that tells you that you're in a serious meat restaurant.  And you have to wonder what the little tongs are for ...

Click on the picture for a higher res pic
The dinner menu is a $49 a head fixed price affair, but we enjoyed a special opening price of $32.50. There is a mind-boggling and stomach bursting range of dishes to choose from.  All the meats have been barbecued on huge steel skewers, and the chef brings them around to your table for your perusal.  If you want some of it, he slices a chunk off for you. And that is when you use your tong, to grab the loose end of the meat so that it doesn't fall off onto the table when it's separated completely from the motherlode on the skewer.   Every once in a while, someone else brings around a trolley laden with a monstrous slab of beef ribs and obligingly offers to slice off choice morsels for you.

With 16 different varieties of meat, including Argentinian scotch fillet, lamb rump, southern Brazilian kebab (yes you can eat this), pork sausages, pork belly ribs, lamb chop loin and chicken parmesan,  this is truly a carnivore's nirvana.  All perfectly cooked, ranging from medium rare to rare, depending on the particular meat and cut - overall, still pink and juicy, but certainly not spurting like an arena scene from a Spartacus episode when you cut into it.  Simon also made the observation that you would always get a piece of meat which was seared on one side, so you could enjoy the slightly crisp barbecue goodness.

The stand out meat dish would have to be the chicken medallions.  Beautifully cooked tender and juicy boneless medallions of chicken wrapped in bacon which has been perfectly barbecued to deliver a crisp and crunchy, yet still moist, textural and flavoural counterpoint.

For those who are less enthusiastic about walking away from the dinner table with a gutful of red meat, the side dishes on their own represent a complete vegetarian meal that will leave your hunger happily sated.  Potato salad, garden salad, Brazilian salad, black beans Brazilian style in a thick rich sauce, white rice which is traditionally eaten with the black beans, steamed vegetables, two types of lasagna (the cheese lasagna is unbelievably delicious in the way that only a truly unhealthy dish can be).  And the highlight - a whole barbecued pineapple on a skewer from which the chef would carve generous slivers for you at the table.

And did I mention the more-ish cheesy bread that is invitingly warm and soft inside?

As if all of this wasn't enough, the staff generously offered to bring all the dishes around again for another round.  I had to decline, although Simon did go for more chicken medallions and scotch fillet.  And that reminds me: don't you hate it when you go to a buffet or all-you-can-eat restaurant and there's a sign that you'll be charged for uneaten food?  Well, dining should be a joyous experience, and these types of fun-police ideas have no place in a decent establishment.  That's one of the things I love about Lapa: not only do they encourage you to eat more, they even give you a "graveyard plate" where you can jettison those meats that you so ambitiously took, but suddenly realise that it's going to end in tears if you forced yourself to finish it.  As you can see, after an initial (but brief) moment of embarrassment at wasting food, we shamelessly utilised the graveyard plate.
The Graveyard Plate

Dessert isn't included in the fixed price deal, but there's no way you could fit it in after sampling most of the dishes, unless you wanted to risk a Mr Creosote moment.  On my next visit, I shall resolve to exercise a modicum of restraint so as to leave some room ...

Towards the end of the meal, we finally tweaked to the advice that our waiters were kindly dispensing, that the idea wasn't to try to eat everything put in front of you, but just to go for a handful of choices, and leave the rest for the next visit.  Wise advice, but I felt obliged to put my body on the line so that I could provide a more complete report.

Click on the picture for a higher res pic
The wine selection was small and simple with all wines coming in under $70 a bottle, but there is some really good quality there, both from Australian (including the likes of Elderton and Pirathon) and South American producers.  We opted for the $65 bottle of Tikal Jubila from Argentina.  Described as "the ultimate expression of joy", how could we resist?  We were served the 2007 vintage, and it was indeed a silky smooth affair with rich, sweet, dark berry and currant flavours which were perfect for the heavy, full-flavoured meats we were eating.

You must also be wondering about the quality of the service, since all-you-can-eat restaurants generally don't seem to boast staff with a high level of training and experience.  Well, these guys were great.  It's not silver service, but the staff all took the time to present and explain the various dishes that came around, ask us how our meal was going, encourage us to ask questions about the food, and made us feel great about our brief foray into gluttony.  You couldn't ask for more!


  1. OMG at last somewhere to get great meat !!!

  2. Been there and absolutly loved it!
    Well done Lapa and well done for your amazing review!

  3. this place is amazing. 10/10.

  4. Thanks for sharing this review! I have been looking around for people's thoughts on this new restaurant. About time Perth opened a Brazilian restaurant with loads of meat!

  5. Didn't think I was in Perth very exciting welcome Lapa! - delicious meat(s) and good service will only get better

  6. Hi sounds great

    whats a graveyard plate?

    1. A graveyard plate is the Plate of Shame. That's where you put all the meat that you asked for and had every intention of eating, but shortly after realised that you couldn't finish it all without a visit to the vomitorium or sustaining a hernia ...

  7. going to Lapa tonight with a big group of friends.cant wait some of our friends have been before and said go there with an empty stomach.will get back to you

  8. Went to Lapa.Was very excited to be going.The service wasnt really up to standard at all.half of our table got drinks straight away and the rest of us had to wait a rude 50 mins.and of course the food hadnt even began to come out because no one wanted to take our order.(you need a better system guys really)one waitress that served us was really lovely and great at her job but we didnt see her again.then the meat started to come out which was extremely hour and a half had passed we managed to get 1 more drink each.yay.and now most of the beef that was coming out was super rare so most of us didnt even want to try it after that.most dissapointed.but we will try may have been a bad night

  9. An amazing place. I would give 10/10 for food and the service. We were a table of 7, 2 of whom were children. The staff were terrific, the food out of this world, and I had the Brazilian National drink, which I cant remember what it was called but was great.and the dancing was great, me and my grandaughter both got up and danced. That will definitely be somewhere I go frequently. A delightful dining experience.

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