Lady FWO and I set off Saturday afternoon for Swallow Bar in Maylands only to find they are having a break, so it was closed. Happily we were able to score the last available table at Chapels, just along from the bar, settled in, ordered a glass of rosé and perused the menu.
We have been here before, but only for breakfast, and on that occasion had been delighted by the Asian themed dishes on offer, and pleased this time, too, by the choices.
Probably, I should mention the restaurant itself – a mix of retail and café – Asian artefacts; a large selection of teas for sale together with teapots, cups and saucers; a larger warehouse outlet further down Whatley Crescent holds more antiques, furnishings and bric-a-brac.
A garden area out back offered another spot to dine, plus there are a couple of tables on the footpath out front looking over the revamped Maylands strip.
To the menu: some dishes stood out for us – the French Vietnamese charcuterie, the Oriental tasting plate, chicken pho and beef rendang among them. But I spied curry laksa, and those who read this blog will know I am on a quest for Perth’s best of this dish, so for me laksa it was.
Lady FWO ventured to order rendang on my recommendation.
The rendang had all the flavours and aromas expected of this classic of Indonesian and Malay cuisine. The dish was aromatic, anise, lemon, garlic, ginger and coconut noticeable, and the spices well balanced – chilli, garlic, lemongrass, turmeric and coconut milk supported by underlying sweetness from, possibly, cane sugar and creaminess from the coconut milk.
The beef was beautifully tender and moist and had soaked up the array of spices. Served with steamed rice and a little bowl of pickled vegetables on the side, it was a pretty impressive dish.
My laksa was glistening; chilli and coconut oil floating across the surface of the dish with chopped coriander. Prawns, small cubes of tofu, beansprouts and Hokkien style noodles were immersed in the spicy broth.
A small bowl of chopped chilli sat alongside. Lifted coconut aromas and flavours abounded, with some peppery notes, spicy, but not overly, the noodles well cooked, and the seafood and bean curd retained firmness and texture. It was up there with the better bowls I have tried in recent weeks – it was also the most expensive, but it was good value nonetheless.
Chapels is licensed – and the list has improved markedly since last we visited. A good range of sparkling, whites and reds (with an emphasis on the wines of WA) tempted us – a glass of rosé from Margaret River’s Knee Deep was first on the agenda, followed by a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Willoughby Park in the Great Southern.
The Knee Deep rosé exhibited aromas of strawberries; palate showed lifted sweet fruit and crisp mineral notes on the mid palate and a hint of apple. The finish is refreshing and quite dry.
The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon exhibited red and black berry elements on the nose, with plum, chocolate and blackcurrant notes on the palate; medium bodied with smooth tannins, it is well balanced and finishes smoothly.
Chapels is certainly worth a visit – for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The food is very well done, just that little different from other places nearby and the service, despite how busy they were, was friendly and enthusiastic.
The wine list is well put together and with good choice. I understand they also have live music at times, so another reason to go along. They add to the plethora of interesting shops and eating places in and around Maylands. And being just opposite the rail station, transport is no problem, either.