Salty Disher

February 28, 2011 · 55 comments

First things first my lovelies.. although the realisation likely has most of us tearing out our hair in horror and tearing around wildly in equal measures, it is almost March. Even if we all stay up until midnight squinting angrily at the clock, we’d still find ourselves writing a 3 where there once was a 2.  So, we’d best embrace it and look for the good things ahead.

Things like an end to the heatwave (please!) currently causing all Perth dwellers to shake our fists at the sky if we have any energy left to do so; Clean Up Australia Day where we can do our bit to clean up our local environment, shaking our fist at those fools who choose to litter; Shrove Tuesday when Christians and Heathens alike can shake pancakes into their mouths for a good cause; and St Patrick’s Day when Christians and Heathens alike can enjoy a refreshing pint of green beer, show off our atrocious Irish accents  and not get bitten by snakes. Also, these days, March is the month of…

The program was released yesterday (a pdf copy may be found here), the twitter account @eatdrinkperth is in the capable hands of Matt from Abstract Gourmet when they’re not busy making transporting food from the table to his mouth, and there is also a Facebook page here. Check it out and get involved, if only to take advantage of the air conditioning that I am sure most of the featured restaurants will offer.

And now back to our scheduled programming, which features eating and drinking in one of Perth’s, uh, more extremely northern suburbs…

Will the day ever come when someone spots their significant other dining with someone they shouldn't be in such a photo? I doubt it, but this lady in red seems hesitant.

Although back in ye olde times it was quite common to determine your surname by your profession, in modern times such synchronicity is remarkable.

Take for instance the New Yorker Urologists Dr David Weiner and Dr Marcus Loo, who at least sound more approachable than their New Mexican colleague Dr Alden Cockburn. Heading closer to home and above the belt, I was delighted to discover recently that a bottleshop (liquor store) near me is run by a Mr Beverage but I don’t think I’ll be visiting Perth optometrist Mr Fist any time soon.

I will however, be looking for any excuse I can to get back up to Geraldton to sample the delights being dished up by the appropriately named Heath Disher, co-owner of Salt Dish with partner Lara Dalton. After spending some years working over east and down south, Heath and Lara have now been running Salt Dish for the past 16 months, and despite continual rave reviews from family members it wasn’t until the last Christmas break that I had a chance to check it out for myself.

Our water bottle, pepper mill, and some salt. In a dish. Ohh, I see what they've done there.

A couple of days before Christmas, I headed into town with my parents and Aunty S, who was also in town for the Christmas break. After taking a seat at a table near the front windows, providing lots of photo-friendly light, we were soon presented with the seemingly ubiquitous interesting, recycled glass bottle of water and some menus. It was just as well we were given menus so promptly, as what followed was a painful 15 minutes of indecision, with all of us changing our minds numerous times before reluctantly settling on one dish each.

Don't get too attached to this menu, as it has recently changed

The menu covers many bases well, ranging from a roast beetroot tart at $17 for the not-so-hungry, up to more generously proteined dishes such as the $30 Tasmanian salmon dish for the piggier patrons.

No surprises what I went for, tucking my curly tail underneath me. Fellow hungry-hungry-hippo Dad went eventually settled on the peppered Scotch sandwich ($25), inbetweeny Aunty S chose the calamari ($22) whilst not-so-hungry Mum chose the beetroot tart.

Roast beetroot eschalot tart, goats curd, pistachio crumble, greens, walnut dressing ($17)

Mum did well to get through her entire tart without any goats curd falling victim to my fork. She reported that the tart itself was a little too oily, but she soon finished off the modestly sized dish and gave it an overall thumbs up despite the oil factor.

Olive crust calamari, harissa mint chickpeas, green onion, aioli ($22)

Aunty S really loved her calamari dish, finding the flavours complex and exciting, and the serving size generous. The promised olive crust on the calamari was very subtle, if there at all (I meant to query this but eventually forgot, probably due to impending Father Christmas excitement), but the squid itself was cooked perfectly and much to our disappointment did not result in any trying-to-hold-a-conversation-whilst-chewing-a-rubber-band hilarity.

Tasmanian salmon, chorizo, grape tomato, peppers, crouton, lime tartare ($30)

I could have eaten this dish all day. The salmon was perfectly cooked, with a super crispy skin and juicy flesh. The chorizo gave lovely spicy depths to the overall flavour, complementing the sweetness of the tomatoes and silky roasted capsicum whilst the warm,crunchy, oily croutons were warm, crunchy and oily in all the good ways. The lime tartare was much lighter than it appeared, presumably due to the lime, but squeezing the lemon wedge generously over the whole lot added necessary acidity to finished it off to perfection. If I had to find a fault, I was left feeling like I had ingested a reasonable amount of oil with the combination of the skin, chorizo and croutons, but the flavours and textures were totally worth it. Plus, it was almost Christmas, so it was probably good preparation for the impending calorie overload.

Peppered scotch sandwich, Balsamic onions, Provolone, mustard mayo, fresh chips ($25)

I was really glad that Dad settled on the steak sandwich as his lunch choice, as there was obviously no way I was going to order it and I’d heard from my brother-in-law that it was high up there in the steak stakes. Happily, it lived up to the hype. Every last morsel was polished off, with no chewy bits left discarded on the plate (Dad is as picky as I am with bits of fat/gristle in meat, even when they’re cunningly hidden between pieces of bread). Despite his enjoyment of the dish, he took a little break half way through proceedings to ask if I wanted to take a photo of the sandwich innards before he started the second half. Nice one, Dad.

I was a fan of the number of chips served with the sandwich. Just enough to add some salty crispness, without tempting you to devote too much stomach space to the side dish. The siren call of the hot, crunchy chip has been the downfall of many a seasoned eater.

I think it’s pretty clear that we were really happy with the overall food experience here, and it is obvious that thought has gone into the construction of the menu whilst attention to detail and quality produce have gone into the dishes themselves. The service was great too – prompt and friendly and easy. I was horribly disappointed though when, as we were paying, I asked what time they opened for breakfast in the morning and was told they were closing for the Christmas period that afternoon and would not be opening again until the new year. Breakfast denied.

I did get to eat here again recently, though vicariously, through a friend who was visiting Geraldton very briefly for business and asked for food recommendations. He and his travelling companion were so taken by the menu that they ordered four main dishes between the two of them, and impressively managed to get through the lot. My family and I are well known for over-ordering (to the point of being given extra cutlery as people think there must surely be more of us eating than there actually is), so I could hardly believe we had been out-ordered.

I need to get back here to rectify this. Family honour is at stake.

Salt Dish

Address:                  35 Marine Terrace, Geraldton
Phone:                      08 9964 6030
Opening Hours: Tues – Sat: breakfast 7:30-11:30am; lunch 11:30-2:30pm; cake til 4pm
Service:                    Dine in, bookings not taken
We paid:                   $27/head for mains and soft drinks