I don’t know why Cream in East Perth is my favourite modern-Australian restaurant. Maybe it’s the maroon-and-chocolate colour scheme, the dim lighting, the lovely wait staff, the excellent food, or the fact that an entire length of wall is clad in black-and-red faux fur.
I think I just answered my own question.
I made the reservation for Saturday on the Wednesday before. “6.30pm, please, for two people,” I said to the lady on the phone. “And, um, do you think we could have a table next to the furry wall?”
With supreme willpower, I held back from my usual habit of lurching-forward-with-an-overshare and didn’t tell her that last time, I rubbed my face on the wall at regular intervals throughout the meal. There are some things restaurant people don’t want to know about their customers and what they do to their expensive décor.
The Welshman and I fronted up in our Saturday best but to my utter dismay, we were led away from the fur and I found myself sitting facing a plain beige wall about a metre in front of my face. The Welshman faced a beige partition. I have beige walls at home. This did not feel like being in a restaurant.
I flagged down a waitress and explained that my furry wall reservation had been confirmed by the lady on the phone. All three of us simultaneously glanced towards the furry wall and the tables that were entirely occupied by cosy couples who I instantly imagined were eyeing me smugly.
But I’m not a bad person deep down, so I asked the lady not to attempt a coup, but could we please sit somewhere that wasn’t beige? She led us to a table at the front window, which had much more ambience and a full view of the rest of the restaurant. I ordered a berry cocktail, the Welshman had a Long Island iced tea, and suddenly all was right with the world. (Almost. I know I’m sounding rather preoccupied with this, but, um, the furry wall? I felt a bit like Milton in Office Space when his desk keeps getting moved.)
My tax return was footing the bill so we decided to go all out, ordering a starter, two entrees, two mains and two desserts. The cognac pate with caramelised onions was a great way to start the feast, and that was followed by the grilled field mushroom stuffed with goats’ cheese, lemon and thyme, and also the duck spring rolls from the specials menu. The mushroom was rich and lovely and the spring rolls sufficiently tasty, and although they were pricey for what they were, I was dining at Cream. There’s a lot you get that isn’t to do with the food you’re paying for.
On to Mains: usually I go for the pork belly, but we decided to try something different. I chose the rabbit pie (run rabbit, run, rabbit, run run run…) from the specials menu and the Welshman went straight for the slow braise of baby beef. We swapped dishes halfway through so I got to taste both. The rabbit pie was nice but not overwhelming, as I know the pork belly to be, but the beef was cooked sooo nicely and gets full marks.
For dessert we had the pavlova with berries, and the soft French chocolate cake with raspberry ice cream. With its rich, oozy centre, the chocolate cake was essentially a fondant, and tasted exactly the same as the fondants I had made at home the night before. Which tells me one of three things: A) fondant recipes are pretty universal, B) The Cream waitstaff had been into my fridge, or C) I am an amazing cook with Michelin-star chef-like levels of incredibleness. I’m going with C because my ego is not big enough already.
Cream’s fondant really was delicious (see point C, above) and the raspberry a different take from the usual vanilla bean flavour. It really did taste like raspberries, but I’m not sure if the two elements went 100 per cent well together. Maybe 98 or 99. I may have to try it several times more to decide.
The pavlova was lovely – nice and crunchy meringue, with that nice mild softness in the centre – and although it was covered with berries that are usually tart, the dish was all sweetness. It was a great way to round off the meal.
While I was in the ladies’ room afterwards, the chef visited the table and apologised to the Welshman about the lack of furry wall; apparently it was she who took the reservation. She also comped us our first two cocktails – how nice of her. I wish I had been there to compliment her on the food. When anything eventful happens in life, it’s always just after I’ve nipped off to the loo.