Wild Duck restaurant was an Albany favourite for over six years, winning many accolades and awards. In 2012, with nothing much left to accomplish in the great southern, the Chef-owners Andrew Holmes and Clinton Maclou upped sticks and moved their restaurant to Nedlands.
On arrival, we are greeted and seated in a small dining room, one of three intimate spaces at Wild Duck. It’s a modern restaurant, with quirky little duck statues and warm timber furnishings. Wild Duck is Modern Australian – fine dining, in it’s food style and very well regarded for its degustation menu. Chef and I opt to dine a la carte. The service is friendly, but off to a shaky start – it’s some time till we get a food menu and the first drink I order never appears.
We look over the menu and the entrée “Dam Buster” ($25) catches my eye. Soon Chef and I are holidaying where the original dam busters (a World War Two plane operation) practiced their secret missions – The Derwent Reservoir in England’s Peak District. So choosing that was a no-brainer.
The “Dam Buster” arrives with theatre. As the domed cloche is lifted off the plate, it releases fragrant spirals of smoke. The delicious smoked seafood chowder is held back by the dam wall – fish mouse piped along the plate. Perfectly cooked scallops and prawns are on the side. I can see why this is one of Wild Duck’s most popular dishes – it’s rarely off the menu.
Chef enjoys the charcuterie plate ($29). It’s brimming with small goods. A smear of chicken liver parfait, pork loin with confit pork, prosciutto and pork jelly.
We have a delightful mid-course dish. It’s a roasted potato consume, with a quenelle of potato and a drop of cream. We really enjoy this, it’s excellent and quite different. It tastes just like roasted potato skins.
The wine list is extensive – a mix of Australasian and European wines. Chef chooses a fab little red from the Heathcoat region in Victoria – renowned for producing premium Shiraz. The Archer Eagle Eye Shiraz ($84 for bottle) is wonderfully smooth. Despite the initial hiccup, the service is very good.
I enjoy Pork Belly ($39) for main (also with steamed pork bun, a sweet corn puree, grilled polenta and crisp apple salad. The pork is slow cooked for 16 hours; the skin is perfectly crackled. There’s a multitude of different textures on this dish, that work so well together. It’s a beautiful dish and I’m a bit miffed that the camera didn’t like the mood lighting very much. These pics don’t do the artful and precise plating any justice.
Chef tucks into the Beef Duo ($38) of braised beef and sous vide fillet is so tender. It is accompanied by veg and a parsnip and blue cheese sauce. Chef thinks the sauce was a good change from having a jus and it didn’t overpower the flavour of the meat.
For dessert, we share a Basil Crème ($16). The green crème is topped with a crumbled balsamic meringue and sweet tomato sorbet. Its the most unusual dessert I’ve ever had – perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea! Though the flavours are all sweet, it is essentially a Greek salad of sorts. We enjoy it, as a change from a traditional dessert, though my tastebuds are left a little confused. It is a challenging dish. It’s great to see these chefs are thinking outside the box.
Andrew and Clinton’s innovative food is a delight. It excites Chef and I. The technique and execution of the dishes are superb. The kitchen is also backed up by some fine young talent. James Cole-Bowen is on the Australian junior culinary team. Wild Duck is a perfect spot for a special occasion or date night – I’m hoping to visit again for sure!