Cafes, Restaurants and Dining in Perth, Western Australia.

The Armada Bar and Grill

417 Hay St, Perth
Ph: (08)  9238 1888
www.travelodge.com.au

Simplicity, With a Touch of Class

Ever been to The Armada in the City? Perhaps you have, but have you been there lately? The restaurant that once hosted an ‘East meets West’ type menu has seen a steady transition over the past 12 months to become a more ‘brasserie’ type restaurant.

Head Chef Scott Harpham joined The Armada around 15 to 16 months ago and has had a hand in the restaurant’s steady evolution over the past year or so. He said the new menu, which is constantly being remodelled, has been developed according to customer demand, and is inspired by traditional Aussie favourites.

Scott describes The Armada as having a ‘corporate clientele’, due to it being part of the Travel Lodge. A lot of people come from over East for promotional sales or conferences, and they make up most of the diners at The Armada. Even as we sat down for our meal I noticed several small groups of businessmen come for a casual meal or drink to get a break from the stresses of work.

This is why the demand is for ‘simple’ meals rather than extravagance feasts. However, you wouldn’t exactly call the dishes on this menu simple. Scott and his team have created these ‘simple’ dishes that clientele want, but have given them their own flair, distinguishing them from an otherwise basic meal.

To demonstrate what I mean, my colleague ordered the ‘Sicilian Hot Pot’ entrée, a selection of ‘Spanish chorizo, roast peppers, roast potato and caramelized onion’. I drizzled some lime over the top, which brought out some new flavours. You can also marry it with a glass of white, such as the 2011 Kapuka Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, NZ).

I went for the ‘Exmouth blue swimmer crab and sweet corn cakes with mustard aioli’. The cakes, which are made with both crab and fish, were tender with a fresh seafood flavour. The aioli is a complementary sauce, but you can enjoy the dish with or without it depending on your taste.

The ‘Supreme of chicken breast’ is based on the simple dish of the same name, but the extra touch comes in the addition of homemade gnocchi in ‘tomato fondue with fried basil and gorgonzola’. The orange tint from the gnocchi makes this dish colourful for both the eye and the mouth. You can tell the gnocchi is freshly made and it could easily pass as a dish on its own.

But the must-have dish of the day was most certainly the lamb cutlets. These weren’t any lamb cutlets. They come pistachio crusted on a “medley of roast veg, grilled courgettes and red currant jus.”
Both the flavour and presentation of this dish is worth noting. The cutlets are set out in a neat stack on the roast veggies, but after your first bite they probably won’t sit there that long. I would never have thought of a pistachio crusted cutlet, but as one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes it is well worth trying. Being a meat dish, it can be enjoyed with a red such as the 2009 Capel Vale ‘Debut’ Cabernet Merlot (Geographe Region, WA).

The Armada is the perfect place to go if you need a little break from your work schedule. While the restaurant has retained some dishes from its previous menu, it mainly consists of the brasserie styled meals ‘like Mumma would make’ because it knows what it’s customers want. This cosy, chic restaurant features a DJ on Fridays, making it quite a happening place for after dinner drinks and pizza. So, next time you’re in the city pop into The Armada for your favourite dishes – with that extra touch of class.

By Lauren Kelly

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