Amphoras, in the “West End” of the city, towards the top of Hay Street in West Perth, was one of the first of the tapas style wine bars. With both indoor and outdoor seating options, it is a small, well set up spot; interesting food choices and an excellent wine list – with 30 odd wines available by the glass; and on the day we went along to lunch, service was friendly, welcoming and professional.
The menu offered a range of small plates designed to be shared – patatas bravas with harissa; tomato and mozzarella arancini; Fremantle octopus; grilled haloumi; beef carpaccio and chicken terrine. A blackboard listed the day’s specials.
Opting for calamari fried with chilli, and a plate of field mushrooms, we looked over the wine list.
We settled initially on a glass of a rose we have had a number of times before, for Lady FWO, the 2013 Pierre et Papa from France, while 2012 Forest Hill Riesling from the Great Southern was my choice.
The Riesling had lifted floral and citrus aromas, with intense lemon zest and mineral notes on the palate; it will age, as with most Great Southern Rieslings, with grace and longevity.
The mushrooms had been cooked in oloroso sherry and sprinkled with shaved house baked ricotta.
They had a strong savoury smokiness about them, with some residual sweetness from the marinade, balancing the meatiness of the mushrooms themselves. It was a dish full of flavour, rich and intense.
Calamari – and looking around at other tables indicated this was a popular choice – was crunchy, tender, beautifully cooked. There was a hint of chilli, and came with a small bowl of creamy aioli for dipping, and a cheek of lemon to add some citrus zing.
Finishing our first glass we moved on to a red each – it was a cool day after all – 2013 Bunkers The Box Tempranillo, and 2011 Fermoy Estate Cabernet Merlot, both from Margaret River.
The tempranillo exhibited black fruit notes on the nose, with hints of toasty oak. On the palate it was full bodied, with juicy plum and cherry flavours, supported by smooth tannins; the other red showed lifted chocolate/coffee aromas with background notes of plums and dark fruit, an elegant palate, silky tannins, and chocolate and prune tones, finishing long.
Amphora has proven to be a stayer in the small bar stakes, and from what we experienced no wonder – smart service, good, well cooked and presented food, and an excellent wine list. Recommended.