20 December 2011
|Chicken medallions wrapped|
in deliciously crisp bacon!
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 ...
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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.
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.
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.
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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!