The old Emporio has been through some serious facelifts in its time. Unlike personified facelifts that rarely stand the test of time, it looks like Lalla Rookh has been at the hands of an expert team of surgeons with experience and care for detail.
I’ve followed the progress of LR for a while and my interest was particularly piqued by the description of modern Italian with a quirky slant. Personally I don’t see it so much. It is excellent Italian, with great service and superbly executed but it is not really on the edge for me.
It is by no means standard Italian either. The things you expect from great Italian are here – handmade pasta, top quality ingredients including first rate salumi, desserts that are comforting and sweet.
The service in particular is inspired for Perth which is often fickle at best. I noticed that the first time I had to crane my neck was to ask for the bill. The staff had been so attentive I didn’t have to once stop conversation and look around – that is a quality that I treasure in a restaurant.
To begin, the speck, oysters in frosty granita shallot vinaigrette, and Gorgonzola with honey, were simply showing off the respective produce. What followed was exceptional homemade pasta. Several of us had the special pasta which was described as torn, with lamb and peas. The lamb was sensationally slow cooked and captured memories of some of the best lamb I’ve tasted, combined with amazing pasta.
I went quite traditional and chose the beef and pork ragu pappardelle which was exceptional in every sense of two of my favourite words ragu and pappardelle. The depth of flavour, obviously showing skill, experience and patience, was incredible. Every bite was equally brilliant. This is why I eat Italian. I must say that the hazelnut, fennel and pear salad was the best salad I’ve had this year, and may be one of the dishes that give rise to the quirky slant.
We were well fed but had to try dessert and their take on a tiramisu was not to be missed, as was their doughnuts which are a fad that I hope lasts for a long, long time. Both desserts were delicious without being to die for. To die for if you happened to live through the pasta, that is.
Lalla Rookh is such an extreme betterment of the old Emporio that anything else is a huge bonus. In a few years to come we will gladly say, “what used to be here” and not remember that well because we will have been to LR several times to drown out the old fumbly experiences at its predecessor. What an incredible demonstration of where Perth has come, and where it is going.