In my early 20s I would often see the stairs at the bottom of Allendale Square and wonder what was down there. A few years later I remember meeting someone at this 'La La Rookh' place and having no idea where it was, staring at the little dot on my phone that said I was standing right on top of the joint and yet not being able to see anything but St George and his Dragon laughing down at me from London Court.
So - let me save someone else the trouble. Lalla Rookh is the fancy restaurant / bar down the circular staircase at the bottom of Allendale Square. You're welcome.
A group of seven ate at Lalla Rookh as the final warm up for the Perth Underground Dinners, but we actually sat down for the meal over a month ago now and I've just been way behind on writing it up. As a result some of the comments are probably a little bit vague, as they're based on people's scribbled down notes and emails from a few days afterwards. Apologies.
- Sister Two ordered the ricotta gnocchi and commented, 'The Ricotta Gnocchi were fluffy little pillows of devilishness, with dense centres that made them suprisingly satisfying for what looked like a small portion."
- Mmbop chose the the Pollo in Tecia, and commented, '... a smallish dish, but perfectly suited to me so I was happy with the size, and it tasted amazing! The chicken was cooked to perfection, which is lucky because there wasn't a lot else with it."
- Banjo ordered the Wild Rabbit Pappardelle and was very happy with it. Sister Two thought it looked amazing and is now keen to go back to try it. I must admit - judging on looks alone, it's pretty impressive - although perhaps a little bit small given the price?
- The Pizza Gamberi was a not-so-small meal . This was Mr Banjo's choice and although he thought the base was really well cooked (supremely important to wood fired home cooked pizzas in my view) he thought the toppings were a tad boring.
- I went with the Barramundi and thought it was wonderful. The crispy skin was coated in 'arabic spice' and I wanna Oliver-Twist all up in that bitch and get some more. Wowzer. Didn't care about the price (fish is always expensive) - I loved it.
- Madame Star and Key was thrilled with her carpaccio, a meal she regularly orders throughout town, and said it stacked up with the best she had tried. Big call, really.
- Simone went with the Osso Buco and unfortunately it looks like I didn't get a photo of it. Again, like his wife, he was very satisfied and gave a glowing recommendation.
Based on the photos you may see an underlying theme throughout all the dishes. Most were delightful, and some (i.e. everything other than the pizza and arguably the rabbit) are approaching exquisite. However, while these dishes are packed with flavour and are sure to impress, they're not overly generous portions and run the risk of finishing a little too quickly (hehe).
- Desserts were another smash hit around the table, and I think generally dessert is a meal better suited to the kitchen's 'small meals done masterfully' approach.
- Mmbop chose the honeycomb gelato, with toasted almonds and orange peel, and said the combination worked very well together and that she enjoyed it.
- I tried the tiramisu and while I didn't think i was going to like it (generally not a fan of goat's cheese) it was wonderful. The spongey bit (an 'olive oil cake', if you believe the menu) was hidden inside the creamy bit and made for a wonderful surprise. I absolutely recommend it.
- Someone went with the pannacotta and I think it also received positive reviews - but I don't have any notes on it, and I can't quite remember - sorry! Will update if more info comes to light.
- Sister Two was not altogether happy with her affogato, as she didn't enjoy the cocoa liqueur it was served with. She says she prefers the affogato served at Koko Black. You will simply have to trust me when I say I've spent an appropriate amount of time teasing her for being the type of person that has a 'favourite affogato vendor'.
- The service was both very good and very bad. After taking our drinks orders our waitress never got around to serving us any bread, and then when we asked for it (15 mins later) it came out rock hard and stale. The second lot they served us was much better, though.
- We arrived at 7.45pm and were still not eating by 8.50pm. Clearly there was a stuff up there because we were waiting (both to order our food, and then to receive it) a long long time.
- One of the waitresses we had was delightful to speak to though. Very friendly; very patient. She was willing to give us a brief explanation about the name of the restaurant (supposedly named after a lady of the night (aka a 'Kalgoorlie showgirl') and/or a gold mine - you decide which of those two are more likely to have made a lasting impression).
- The delay between sitting and eating is hard to look past - but our lady made a valiant effort of it.
- Depending on when you visit, Lalla Rookh has a great vibe to it and this makes for a wonderful feel at dinner. Its underground nature results in soft mood lighting throughout - the kind of lighting that improves everyone's looks by a factor of 1.5 (and the wine does the rest).
- The sit down dining zone is a bit removed from the drinks section, but you should be aware that the place can get quite busy come Friday evening drinks time. It's not really noticeable at the table, but obviously you will have to navigate around the Friday drinks crew on entry, exit, and on visits to the bathroom.
- The decor itself is ok - though it could probably do with a bit of a revamp. I like the black and white printed photos (of what I think are of olden-days-WA, but I could be wrong?), but some of the decor looks like it's trying for a quaint, Guildford-antiquing style vibe and this clashes with other areas of the bar, which look modern and sexier. A bit confused, perhaps.
Overall, Lalla Rookh was solid but with some obvious areas for improvement that could really step it up a few notches. The food's taste was very very impressive, but the portions won't dazzle anyone. The presentation will leave you feeling fancy, but the service will not. The mood lighting lathers us all in the kind of warm glow the restaurant's namesake might have done, but some of the decor looks like Nanna's bequeathments.
I would go back, but I feel no urgency to do so.
6.5 Kalgoorlie Showgirls out of 10