He sat there on the rickety wooden chair for the longest time, dance card clutched in his hand, sweaty with nerves. Every time I wandered past he would look up expectantly, the same hopeful expression on his face that would fade to sad disappointment as I kept walking and chose another.
Clarence saw so many other posts come and go, whisked off to the blog with a smile on their face, excited at the prospect of being read and determined to get more comments than those who went before them. He really didn’t deserve to be so continually passed over, and I’m ashamed of my behaviour. You see, he sat there languishing on the uncomfortable chair for three whole months, his face developing creases to match those on his once freshly ironed shirt.
And now, the joke is on me, who left him there. What was once such a promising young post has been superseded by the passing of time. The season has changed, and with it so has Clarence’s menu. All the delectable dishes he so badly wanted me to show you are no longer available, having been replaced by younger ones, much like poor Clarence himself. Although these dishes are now just fleeting memories in the minds of Perth diners, I owe it to Clarence to share them with you.
Clarence, this one’s for you. And also S, whose birthday it was three months ago when we actually ate all this food.
Clarences Bar & Restaurant in Mount Lawley just feels cool when you enter. That perfect dimly lit atmosphere that has food bloggers groaning in frustration and people having a bad skin day smiling in delight. The four of us were tucked into a little cosy booth and enjoying a variety of drinks that entirely slip my memory, struggling to peruse the menu whilst listening to F regale us with tales of the madness of the soccer World Cup he had enjoyed/survived in South Africa not long previous.
As it turns out, we didn’t need very long to reach our food decisions anyway, as a few things jumped out at us. F chose to start with the “Duck liver parfait, onion jam” ($15) and continue on with the “Crispy pork belly, red cabbage, cauliflower” ($19) which D also settled on quite easily. Birthday girl S chose the “Seared scallop, arroz, chorizo” ($19) and a side of the “Sautéed silverbeet, lemon, fennel” ($8). Although sorely tempted by the pork belly I couldn’t go past the “Spiced lamb tagine, couscous, almonds” ($25).
It was not long before the duck liver parfait came out, which F kindly shared with the rest of us. I was a little apprehensive as I don’t often enjoy liver dishes, finding the taste of iron overpowering, but this was well and truly an exception. The parfait was smooth and creamy, not overbearing in its richness, and with a totally manageable taste of iron. The onion jam was a perfect accompaniment providing the touch of sweetness required, and the bread was lovely and fresh. We were soon asking for more bread to finish off the rest of the parfait and jam, and poor F was probably left regretting his generous offer to share.
Both boys agreed that the pork belly was a winner, tasting as good as it looked. Definitely one for the pork lovers, whom I know aren’t exactly thin on the ground. Or thin anywhere, ha! (I can say such things because I happen to be a pork lover too. It’s like how you can call your family awful names and it’s totally fine, but it’s absolutely unacceptable for anyone else to do the same. Agreed? Good.)
The birthday girl on the other hand is not at all a lover of pork, having sworn off eating it on moral grounds some time ago. She was therefore quite unimpressed at being tricked into eating chorizo in this dish, until we pointed out that the chorizo is actually clearly stated on the menu. She managed to enjoy her meal despite the side serving of guilt to accompany the side serving of somewhat unattractive yet fresh and tasty silverbeet.
It may not look it in this photo but my lamb dish was very generously portioned, and it was a little struggle but I polished off every last morsel down to the very last moghrabieh grain. The lamb was perfectly tender, only ever so slightly fatty, and the lemons provided a perfect little kick of tartness to round off the spice of the sauce and the slight sweetness of the meat. I’m really very sad that this is not on the menu any more.
My sadness at the loss of the lamb is however tempered by the addition of a dish described as “coconut poached chicken, tamarind, chilli, ginger salad”. Oh yes, I must try this.
I must also get there to try the Monday Night Special – chicken parma for $15 with $5 pints of James Boags. Although unlike our eastern states compadres we don’t have a ubiquitous chicken parma special every two steps down the street in Perth, it’s still somewhat of a pub classic that I’m sure we’ve all had mediocre versions of. I’m pretty keen to see what type of spin the team at Clarences will put on it. Will it be served with soggy chips and covered in enough goopy melted cheese to stretch out into a jacket if you get chilly?
See you soon, Clarence. I hope you can forgive me.
Clarences Bar & Restaurant
Address: 566 Beaufort Street MOUNT LAWLEY 6050
Phone: 08 9228 9474
Opening Hours: Mon-Thurs: 4pm-midnight; Fri-Sat: noon-midnight; Sun: noon-10pm
Website: Clarences Bar & Restaurant
We paid: ~$40/head for shared entrée (starter), mains and drinks