Andaluz – Basement, 21 Howard Street, Perth – ph: +61 8 9481 0092
For anyone who has not yet been inducted into this little slice of awesome, Andaluz is one of Perth’s newest and most stylish tapas/small bars. Don’t take my word for it — Urbanspoon has a tribe of readers willing to attest to its fabulousness [18/06/2018: original link is now defunct: Urbanspoon is now Zomato].
I have been an Andaluz regular and voluntary promoter since 22 August. That visit also marked the start of Aroha, Sarah and I documenting quotable quotes from our nights out. I believe the very first quotable quote came from Sarah, who declared, “Ooh! It’s proper smelly delicious cheese!” on receiving our cheese platter. I am borrowing another of Sarah’s quotes when I tell you that Andaluz is my happy place.
For such a hidden-away location, this place is really popular. Bookings are not taken and even if you arrive within an hour of opening time on a Saturday night you still risk missing out on a table.
While not ultra-pricy, Andaluz is not a cheap night out if you want to feel full and tipsy over the course of the evening. I do consider it to be excellent value, however, when you look at what you get for your money.
The ambience. You notice the atmosphere of the place as soon as you step through the door. It’s dimly lit; comfortably so. The dining areas are separate, secluded. Every room has lamps and side-tables. The crockery is mismatched, antique. The look is classic gentlemen’s club style. Dark wood, velvet, leather, flocked fabrics.
I am not merely being poetic when I tell you it is a venue from another time; it truly is. The heritage-listed 21 Howard Street was built during the Perth Gold Boom (1890-1910) and its upper levels have remained active as law chambers for almost its entire life. In spite of the extensive refit, you see seams of the past interwoven with the modern textiles and accents.
photo by Annie
The food. I am super-excited that there is finally a Perth venue you can count on to serve decent food after 10pm. Average cost per plate is around $12, and dishes range from $6 to $29.
The tapas menu is delightfully varied and includes some delicious vegetarian options for those who are not carnivorously inclined. I can personally recommend the almonds and chickpea salad.
I won’t lie: I was disappointed when the tiger prawns with lime butter sauce and the labna slipped quietly off the menu — but I have to say, I have warmed to several dishes from the new menu, such as the lamb cutlets and scallops.
Ok, so the scallops have been around for a while. The image below depicts almost three servings of the delightful flavour bursts: one was pilfered by a hungry friend before I had the chance to whip out my iPhone for a photo.
A few notable stalwarts remain on the new menu, like that lovable cheese platter which is inevitably licked clean:
The drinks. Cocktails are priced from $16, with wines starting at $8 per glass.
The wine list is Italian and Spanish with a smattering of French and Australian selections. I like it. I also like the fact that the bar staff know their cocktails; they make the old faithfuls to perfection.
photo by Gabriel
The service. The Andaluz service is outstanding. I think the thing I love most about this place is the fact that the barstaff remember you and your drink(s) of choice. The waitstaff are all so friendly, efficient and professional — a rare combination in Perth — and they make you feel welcome and special. It’s what a good restaurant should be. This is why you pay to eat out.
Andaluz, I toast you with my expertly mixed Bombay Sapphire martini and the glass of Rioja that will inevitably follow. I sit back and I smile to myself as I scan the roomful of friends in contented conversation. And, as I guide another unaccompanied sliver of oozing Brillat Savarin to my parted lips, I know I am in my happy place.