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Not ones to shy away from a foodie deal, my friends and I jumped at the chance to try the tapas at Hestia’s when we saw their September promotion of buy 4 get 1 free on Wednesday and Sunday nights.
For the uninitiated, the definition of tapas on the online Oxford Dictionary is “small Spanish savoury dishes, typically served with drinks at a bar; literally ‘cover, lid’ (because the dishes were [historically] given free with the drink, served on a dish balanced on, therefore ‘covering’, the glass).”
To my friends and I, tapas equates to eating a wide selection of food without having to feel guilty about over eating due to the small portions of each dish. In other words, we love it!
Thus, it was with great anticipation that we arrived at Hestia’s prime location on the corner of Lake and Francis Streets in Northbridge. Being a Wednesday night, it wasn’t overly crowded. In fact, it was really quite deserted.
Despite its rather unassuming exterior, all of the tables at the front of the restaurant were filled not long after our arrival at 7pm. Any guests arriving thereafter were brought to the back, so I’m guessing the restaurant is rather larger than it looks when you first go through the door.
We ordered a pitcher of the green tea sangria ($14 glass/$36 pitcher). We were so excited to try the citrus, honey, iced green tea and white wine concoction that I forgot to take any photos of it, but I can happily report that it was deliciously light and refreshing.
The first dish of food to arrive at our table was the croquetas ($13.50 for 6). 3 of these were vegetarian whilst the other 3 contained Serrano ham. I enjoyed the contrast between the crispy outer layer and the creamy fillings, though I thought they were just a tad too smooth as I prefer a more rustic chunkier texture for more bite. The vegetarian version had a strong aromatic eggplant flavour whilst the ham version lacked, well, ham-myness. Nevertheless, we felt that we were off to a decent start.
The next dish to come was the Moroccan lamb with green tomato chutney and remoulade dip ($14). The dips were both very tasty, the chutney being sweet and tangy while the remoulade had a spicy edge. Unfortunately, the lamb was tough, under salted and lacking in flavour. I tried piling the lamb onto the flat bread with some chutney and remoulade, but this failed to improve it, and in the end I decided it was better just to enjoy the bread with the dips.
Undeterred, we pressed on with one of our favourite dishes to order anywhere, crispy pork belly ($16.50 for 4). The skin was certainly crispy, but like the lamb, we found the meat tough, lacking in flavour, and also dry. Luckily, the apple puree and fennel saved the dish from mediocrity by adding some much needed moisture and freshness.
The crispy chicken thigh ($15 for 3) also delivered on the crispiness. To their credit, this was actually quite a tasty dish. However, it reminded us more of chicken Kiev than a Spanish style dish, and the size of the chicken portions, requiring knives and forks to eat, did not meet with our expectations of what tapas should be.
Fortunately, the next dish to appear was the caramelised beef ribs ($16 for 5). Cooked in a red wine and seeded mustard sauce, the ribs were full of satisfying, slightly tangy flavour. Best of all, the flesh fell off the bone easily. This dish did a good job of raising our spirits, and our expectations, once more.
Not far behind came the meatball sliders ($15 for 3), and I’m not talking about the delivery time. We could have forgiven the fact that they weren’t particularly Spanish inspired if the flavours had been inspired…but they weren’t. As there was only a minuscule amount of the blue cheese sauce, the sliders were lacking an element to counter their meatiness. They would have benefited from a hint more creaminess and acidity, and we all lamented that we hadn’t held onto the green tomato chutney and remoulade dip from the lamb dish.
Although looking rather like a sorry mess of brown on brown, the mushroom forest ($18) was really quite a tasty mix of ham, bacon, chives, cream cheese and a variety of mushrooms. It was rich, creamy and salty like a pate, and we felt that the dish could have been greatly improved by serving it with some warm crusty baguette slices or similar vehicle, and perhaps a drizzle of balsamic to add a slight sticky sweetness to counter the creaminess and salt. Luckily, we still had the buns from our sliders, so we ended up enjoying this dish quite a lot.
The savoury dish of the night, though, was hands down the chilli prawns and octopus with chorizo and potato cake ($18). This dish was flavoursome in its spiciness and actually tasted like it belonged on a Spanish menu! If we had any complaint, it was that they were a little stingy on the chorizo slices.
Rounding out the 10 dishes we had set out to order (so that we could have 2 free dishes!) was the ensaladilla ($12 for 2). Described as seafood mixed with potato and homemade mayonnaise on toast, we certainly weren’t expecting something that could have come from your local deli. Still, we sampled this dish with open minds, but once again we were disappointed in the lack of salt and flavour.
Not feeling too enticed by the dessert menu, we decided to share the 5 textured chocolate crepe cake ($12) between the 5 of us. This was to be Hestia’s last chance to redeem itself in our eyes, and I’m glad to say they did! The 5 textures came firstly in the form of the cake itself, which had a wonderfully light texture. This was topped with super fine delicate chocolate shavings, and served with a sticky chocolate sauce and a scoop of deliciously rich chocolate ice-cream topped with chocolate biscuit crumbs. The textures combined well together to create a wonderfully decadent treat that had layers of complexity instead of being overwhelmingly chocolatey. As you can imagine, this dish is intensely rich though, and we felt the portion was large enough to share between 4-5, making it fantastic value!
Service was a little slow to start and we found ourselves sitting for a good 15-20 minutes without drinks after we had put in our orders. Once things got going though, each dish of food came out at exactly the right pace, and we never felt like we were waiting an excessively long time for the next dish to arrive nor did we ever feel rushed.
The staff themselves seemed inexperienced and a little overwhelmed, getting our orders wrong 3 times. The first time, they brought a glass of the sangria instead of the requested jug. The 2nd time, they brought us a 2nd serve of the crispy chicken dish after we had just eaten 1 serve of the same thing. And the 3rd, they brought us something we hadn’t ordered at all. Nevertheless, they corrected all of their mistakes in a timely fashion with apologies and without fuss or argument. Overall, we found them to be friendly and pleasant.
The decor was nothing special, and indeed we thought the seats were hard and uncomfortable.
The food was all priced very reasonably considering the size of the dishes. Alcohol is on the expensive side but roughly standard for Perth.
Fri 10am-3pm and 5pm-midnight
Sat 9.30am-3pm and 5pm-midnight
Sun 9.30am-3pm and 5-10pm
49 Lake St, Northbridge, Western Australia
It’s on the corner of Lake and Francis Streets, and the closest parking lot is roughly across the road between Francis and Aberdeen Streets, though there is free parking in the vicinity if you’re lucky enough to find an empty spot.
Many of the dishes were a little rough around the edges in terms of presentation and just missed the mark in terms of flavours. It’s a tough business these days with many great eateries popping up all over Perth, and with so many other places to try, it’s unlikely that we’d return for the food. Which is a shame, really, as the sangria and chocolate cake really are divine.
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