As those who follow may know, I hold Andaluz in high regard- a top small bar, one of Perth’s first, wonderful evocative atmosphere in the basement of an old law chambers building off Howard Street – leather couches, wooden boxes as low tables, high benches and stools in some parts, even your run of the mill tables and chairs, mirrors, arty lampshades and table lamps, dim, moody lighting.
The tapas style menu changes regularly and three or four of the dishes is more than enough for two, we have always found. And the wine list is very good, small yes but with an interesting and varied range, by bottle and glass – naturally a lean to Spain, but not forgetting Australia.
Ordering three dishes – croquettes, fried cuttlefish and gnocchi we sat back with a glass of 2015 Castelli Chardonnay on one hand and Brave New Wine’s Sunshine and Hercules Riesling on the other. The 2015 Riesling from one of WA’s most innovative new winemakers has a bouquet of blossom, with a touch of honeysuckle; the palate is all citrus – pithy lime – and crunchy green apples, supported by elegant, fine acid. A great drop and great name, too.
Castelli have sourced the grapes from Pemberton for the chardonnay – stonefruit, butterscotch and toasted cashew aromas, silky smooth, creamy palate with some savoury notes accompanying the citrus lift on the finish. Seriously good cool climate chardonnay.
The croquettes, four golf ball sized rounds were crisp skinned and filled with, creamy, melted gruyere combined with sweet, roasted pumpkin and earthy, meaty mushrooms. A spiced mayo dressing accompanied them. These were moist, crumbly and delicious.
A plate of lightly fried cuttlefish was next – tender, well-seasoned – along with saffron aioli – and everything came together nicely – another enjoyable dish.
Finally our gnocchi – the dish of the day for me – small fried gnocchi balls, along with charred florets of cauliflower on a bed of creamy celeriac purée. The earthy flavours of the cauliflower were complemented by the celery flavours, chewy moist and light gnocchi, with a sprinkle of parmesan adding a nutty note and some aromatics provided by a leaf or two of marjoram.
We had moved on to a red each by now – a glass of 2014 Gamay from Margaret River’s Marq Wines.
Gamay is well known as the grape of Beaujolais, making light, easy drinking wines – this version has more in common, I think, with Pinot Noir. It retains its strawberry and cherry aromas, however the palate is more a tart, medium bodied style – flavours of rhubarb, sour cherry, with some earthy mushroomy notes and a tingle of cloves. Excellent.
A final snifter of Bodegas Alvear 1927 Pedro Ximénez – deep and dark almost black in colour, sticking resolutely to the side of the glass it shows aromas of dried figs, nuts, honey, and caramel while the palate is thick and dense, medium sweet with chocolate, coffee and dried fruit flavours abounding – superb – and then we were on our way.
Andaluz is one of our favourite small bars, and is in the top echelon of those around town and is always worth a visit – for a meal or drink or both.