The London Hotel on Stirling Terrace houses one of, if not the, best destinations in Albany – Liberté – a wine bar, coffee shop, tea rooms, restaurant – with the area at the rear of the place a wonderland of baroque style furniture – plush velvet, ornately carved wood, leather, marble, dazzling chandeliers, large hanging mirrors – it has the lot, all set up as eating and drinking and relaxing nooks.
The menu, designed and produced by the amazingly talented Amy Hamilton is a celebration of French-Vietnamese fusion – perfectly suited to the room which could almost be a salon from French Colonial days in Saigon.
We dropped in a couple of times during our trip to Albany last week, the first for lunch, the second for a relaxing late afternoon/early evening drink – both visits immensely enjoyable, relaxing and creating the urge to return again.
The menu is not too large, but has a tantalizing collection of dishes to choose, mostly designed to share – for us fried Brussel sprouts; roast pumpkin dumplings; and crab and garlic noodles saw us through lunch – on our evening return we had a dish of salt and pepper whitebait to accompany our wine.
The wine list is a carefully curated selection of Great Southern wines, a couple from Margaret River and, reasonably, a few from France to balance out the cuisine – over the course of our time there – Tripe.Iscariot’s Margaret River Grenache Rosé; La Violetta’s delectable Ye Ye Grise a Gewurztraminer and Riesling blend from the Great Southern; Apricus Hill Denmark Pinot Noir; and Mark Warren’s Margaret River Marq Malbec all impressed and satisfied.
Excellent wine list – but the focus is and should be the food.
The dumplings, beautifully gelatinous skins encasing moist, sweetly earthy roasted pumpkin, well-seasoned and scattered with nutty sesame seeds, arrived with “secret” dipping sauce – a honey soy combo that added a sweet sour salty note – delicious.
The sprouts, fried to a dark, crisped consistency, cooked with chilli, lime and honey were crunchy, zesty, the contrast of the flavours and texture a wonder to behold – ah… if only all Brussel sprouts of my childhood had been cooked like this!
And the noodles, slippery, al dente, oily, loaded with succulent picked crab meat, oodles of garlic, scattered green onions were stunningly good – one to return for, for sure.
Salt and pepper whitebait, certainly salty and causing a thirst for more wine, were equally as satisfying as the other dishes – crispy fish, and a sourly creamy tamarind dipping sauce.
A couple of people we spoke to later gave rave reviews of the loaded fries – so something for us to remember on our next visit!
Liberté is simply one of the best dining houses in the State, and should not be missed on any trip to Albany and the Great Southern. Atmospheric, outstanding wine selection, friendly and welcoming staff, brilliant food – what is not to love? And if it’s just a glass of wine, or a coffee, tea and cake you want, then sitting in the salon of Liberté is hard to beat….