I've been to the Aviary's Nest Rooftop bar before, having appreciated its fine deco. I have experienced its bustling Friday after work drinks and have ventured into it mid-week for chilli mussels and I have enjoyed the vibe, service and the food. So when I was fortunate to be asked to go to the Aviary's infamous Birdcage restaurant and try their new Sunday menu - Lazy Sundays at the Aviary - dim sim with a twist, I couldn't pass up.
For those who don't know The Aviary is located in the new 140 William building - the funky and environmentally friendly building. It's at the corner of Murray street and William street and sits on top of the train station. The Nest is upstairs and the Birdcage restaurant is directly in front of the entrance.
I was suppose to go to the Aviary Birdcage early August, but alas I wasn't at my best, so I wasn't able to go to it until the City to Surf weekend. I'm glad we postponed it because we got a lovely sunny Sunday instead of one with rain. Bf and I ventured into the city to walk around and do some window shopping before heading to the Aviary. We arrived early for our booking so decided to stroll upstairs and then wonder around 140 William (which unfortunately is rather desolate) and seeing as we were starving we decided to ask for our seats. We were shown to some very plush and comfy seats, had time to settle and read what it means to have a Lazy Sunday at the Aviary.
So like I mentioned before it's dim sim with a twist, which basically means dim sim portions with amazing use of asian flavours through very creative dishes. It's 8 courses at $30 (price does not include tea or drinks) available between 12 to 4pm on Sundays of course.
Originally I thought that was rather pricey seeing as 8 courses of dim sim shared between people will be under $30. However, when I read the menu it sounded amazing and I couldn't wait to get started (that and the fact that I haven't eaten since I've gotten up). The dim sum also had a list of T2 teas to go with (at of course additional cost).
Bf and I started off by ordering ourselves some drinks - a jug of Pimms (as we were both craving it!) and although they don't do by the jug at the Birdcage (only at the Nest) we were lucky that they were able to accommodate our request, which I thought was rather nice.
I also asked for the Sencha tea, but I swear it wasn't Sencha because it has such fruity, rosey flavours to the tea. From the bill, it looked like it was ruby red rosehip.
The drinks were served then came the sauces, chili, soy, truffle-infused sauce, olive oil (infused with something I can't remember). Giving you the option to dip away your dim sum!
Before long the first course arrived, which unfortunately the boy couldn't have due to his nut allergy. Instead the Aviary was happy to give him a dessert instead of the first course. I on the other hand, was fine with it. I must say the Red Curry Tartare, Young coconut and Peanut crumble was the perfect balance of flavours. The delicate tartare went beautifully with the sweet peanut crumble and creamy young coconut. This really didn't need anything extra, although I tried my hand at the chili oil - which really wasn't chili enough to complement the dish.
Red Curry Tartare, Young coconut and Peanut crumble
It was followed by the Wild Mushroom, truffle and wonton chips. The mushrooms were creamy and the wonton chips, although nothing special, weren't dripped in oil. Having said that it was really odd to have the beautifully creamy mushrooms with the crispy fried wonton chips because they really didn't complement each other.
Wild mushrooms, truffle and wonton chips
Next was the crab, sweet corn, kaffir lime dumpling. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to take a photo of the plate presented as bf had already dug into it, so all I have for you is A DUMPLING. It had a strong crab flavour, balanced by the sweet corn and zesty lime. But the wonton skin was hard an chewy; it was undercooked. This was somewhat disappointing. To top it off I have to comment that ours did not come with the orange caviar that was present at many other bloggers reviews.!
Crab, sweet corn, kaffir lime dumpling
After dipping the dumpling into the truffle infused soy and devouring it, the muchly anticipated confit champignon, white truffle, egg wonton arrived. It reminded me of curry puffs in appearance, but in taste far from it. The earthy goodness of white truffle with the mushroomy goodness of the champignon was rather a tastebud pleaser. And to quote dear bf "I wish there was more of the stuffing". How eloquently put.
Confit champignon, white truffle, egg wonton
The next dish that came out, I couldn't have as I'm allergic to squid. Coming out in rashes while eating Sunday brunch is not very appealing. So the Pink Pepper Squid, garlic, lime and shallot was bf's own, much to his delight. The waiter that served us said that the dish usually had nuts sprinkled on top, but this was absent in ours. Bf while chewing said it wasn't rubbery, well cooked pink squid with lightly coated tempura with hints of garlic and peppercorns, which was paired well with the lime mayo. He then continued to wipe the plate clean and didn't talk to me until he did so. T_T
Pink Pepper Squid, garlic, lime and shallot
Ah, a dim sim wouldn't be complete without red braised bbq pork buns. The buns were well made; sweet, fluffy and although a little too much of it in some areas it was so delicious I didn't mind it. The bbq pork itself was deliciously sweet and melted in your mouth. What really got to me was that there was no dipping sauce for the bbq buns, which was present at another blogger's website. Quite worrying that the restaurant would miss out on an element in their own dish. Two dishes in one sitting is not a good sign of consistency. Nonetheless the dish itself was good.
Red braised BBQ pork buns
The next dish would have to the highlight of the Lazy Sunday. Bourbon and coke spare ribs, black salt and pepper. This was an absolute gem. The spare ribs were cooked so slowly that it melted in your mouth as you eat it. The sticky, sweet bourbon and coke was lathered throughout the ribs and on the plate and I could have had more of that sauce. It was divine.
Bourbon and coke spare ribs with salt and pepper
The eight and final dish of this rather appeasing meal was the yellow curry whiting, pickled cucumber. The whiting was so well cooked and although the yellow curry looked oddly too yellow thanks to the spices it was nonetheless delicious. However, the flavours of the curry and the whiting was enhanced when eaten with the pickled cucumber salad that came with it.
Yellow Curry Whiting, pickled cucumber
Of course, the meal didn't end there, we had to have dessert, mainly because the Aviary was going to give bf one and because we are dessert fans. The dessert, I have to say though is not part of the lazy Sunday meal of $30, it is an additional $5. And what is the dessert? Well, it's Turkish-style donuts with red bean ice cream. I couldn't really taste the red bean ice-cream, in fact we thought it was raspberry. The flavours of the ice cream could have been a lot better. The donuts on the other hand were fluffy and dense and probably needed more cinnamon and sugar.
I enjoyed the food and the Lazy Sunday - Dim sim with a twist is a great concept with creative dishes full of flavour and texture and a good homage to asian dim sum with tapas styling but seriously, the service and the vibe is rather a huge let down.
The waitresses had sullen faces. The restaurant wasn't busy, only 4 tables were occupied when we were there, there was about 4-5 waitstaff and only one was friendly. The rest looked like they had better places to be.
This is rather unfortunate because the Nest Rooftop bar had lovely friendly staff. How can "one place" have such different mannerism? It's also a shame that the ambiance at the Birdcage is a little - well cagey. It's not warm, it's not friendly, it's a little tense and cagey. But then it doesn't help that only one waitress was happy and friendly.
I'm not sure if it's because I was there to blog, although I don't think any staff member apart from, the one girl that took us to our seat (whom I presume is the manager) knew and I also never expect any preferential treatment when I blog and review because that's not my goal, I blog because it's an outlet for me.
If you are in Perth and need a break from shopping definitely head to the Birdcage and book a table (9226 0259 ) and maybe the weekend I went they were having a bad day.
**Please note all nuts, peanuts, chashew, walnuts etc. etc. sprinkled on top/on the side etc. of any of the dishes were not present in ours due to my boy's allergies, hence photos may look different to the dish in front of you!**