Equateur

‘A crossbreed of flavours, Creole cuisine is a faithful picture of the population.  Smoked meat,  stews and pork butchery came with the French, edible roots and vegetables with the Africans and Malgasy, spices and curries with the Indian indentured labourers.  For the Indians working in the fields, their wives would prepare rice, grains, and meat served with a spicy dish, the ‘rougail’ and curry, today’s traditional Creole food’

– Equateur chalkboard

On Saturday night, after a long day of slothing on the couch and watching Rachel McAdams movies, Ollie and I decided that we wanted to go and try out a new spot in Subi, Double Double Small Bar. Having seen many a picture on instagram of their decadent looking burgers, you can imagine my disappointment when we rocked up to find out they didn’t serve food on a Saturday night! They did offer the option of BYO food from the Japanese place next door, or anywhere nearby that we wanted to walk to, but since we were on Hay St and spoilt for choice, after having a drink there we took a wander to see what else was on offer.  After checking out Lapa and finding out it was fully booked, and not quite feeling the vibe at the Subi Hotel, we settled on a quaint little Creole restaurant just next door called Equateur.

A small space with seating for about 20 people, it looked pretty quiet from the outside so we wandered on in and a waiter appeared out of the kitchen.  With an exuberant french greeting he let us pick a spot and sit down, despite the abundance of reserved signs on all the free tables.  It turned out to be BYO, but fortunately the Subiaco bottleshop is right next door so I ducked out into the rain one last time to grab a bottle of red.  Whilst I was there bottle shop staff entertained me with stories of the French staff at Equateur coming over to buy red bull and practice their English.

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I had to buy this bottle as soon as I saw it – as we had planned to go out for burgers I was dressed fairly casual, in my jumper with the  bright red rocky horror lips on it, paired with some bright red lipstick. Not quite what I would have worn had I known we were having dinner somewhere a bit fancier, but at least I could get a bottle of wine to match it.

Anyway! The menu was small, with about three options for each entree, main and dessert.  There was a $60 option for 4 courses (including an amuse bouche), and a $49 option for 3 courses, which had the option of skipping the entree or dessert.  We opted for the $60 version, and split our choices so we could try as many things as possible.

The amuse bouche materialised quickly, the chef’s choice turning out to be a snapper mousse garnished with picked red cabbage. The mousse was very creamy, and didn’t taste too fishy but had a strong salty element to it.  The pickled cabbage was crisp, and the perfect complement to add some texture and cut through all the creaminess.

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For the entree  I had opted for the crispy goat cheese flavoured with honey, accompanied by a rocket salad with a balsamic dressing. The goats cheese was perfect – soft, warm cheese enveloped by a crispy pastry, reminiscent of a spring roll casing.  The crunch followed by the creaminess was absolute bliss! The rocket salad came with crumbed and fried zucchini chips, wide strips of blanched carrot, fried shallots and a tangy balsamic dressing.  It all worked well together, with a range of textures and flavours mixing pleasantly on the palate.

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Ollie has decided on the assiette creole dip fried, which translated roughly to a plate of deep fried samosa style parcels with creole fillings, including one with chicken and  one with emmental cheese, and you will have to forgive me for forgetting the filling in the last one! This was served with the pickled cabbage and a sweet chilli dressing.  These were satisfying in a similar way to the goats cheese parcels – thin, crispy casings with soft, flavoursome fillings.  Although I didn’t get much of taste as Ollie enjoyed them so much they soon disappeared down his throat!

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After we had finished these, our plates were whisked away, the cutlery swiftly reset and our mains appeared in front of us. I had chosen the creole style lamb navarin, with roast potatoes and brussels sprouts.  This whole dish was amazing, and I have to say I have never had brussels sprouts that I enjoyed so much! They only seemed steamed and salted, so remarkable in that they were not to crunchy, not too soft, but just right. They were served with some carrots and potato wedges, again fairly simple but tasty.  The lamb in its little pot was soft and fell apart on the fork, and there was also some soft carrot in the sauce, reminiscent of a casserole. The crispy carrot sticks added some texture to the pot and topped it off really well.

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The sweet potato puree on Ollie’s dish was out of this world! Smooth, creamy without being too runny and mixed with a bit of paprika, it was a really tasty base for the rest of the dish.  The chicken was moist, and stuffed with bok choy and tumeric, and the same crispy carrot sticks as on my dish topped it off.  Again, a delightful range of textures and great use of some simple flavours. .

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After we finished the mains, our charming french waiter bounced over to us and asked how long we wanted to wait until dessert, a considerate touch I thought. I have to give big props to the waiter – the restaurant had slowly been filling up around us as we ate, and on his own he still managed to run service with a smile, while the lone chef in the kitchen was pumping out meal after delicious meal – it was a fairly slick operation they had going!

We asked for about 15 minutes before dessert, and that is exactly what we got. Having had the time to digest a little, I was looking forward to my chocolate and ginger mousse, which came topped with meringue, an artfully sliced strawberry and some fresh, sweet mint. I love almost anything with ginger in it, and this mousse was no exception.  Smooth, thick and creamy, its richness was counteracted nicely by the sharp strawberry and mint flavours.  It was a perfect size given the depth of its flavour, filling me up but not making me feel sick.

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Ollie had chosen the lemon grass creme brulee with mandarin zest, which had a perfect glass like top that cracked under the tap of the spoon (if there is one thing I have learned from Masterchef, this is a very good thing!). This gave way to the warm brulee underneath, which despite being advertised as lemongrass tasted a lot like vanilla. This didn’t detract from its appeal though, it was still warmly welcomed – another simple dish pulled off with style.

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After we paid up, pleasantly surprised by the absence of a corkage fee from our bill, we were walked to the door by and given a charming farewell as we stepped back out into the rain to catch the train home.  We really enjoyed out unexpected night out at Equateur – friendly service and a slightly different style of food compared to what we normally have made for a great time.  I hope they continue to pull in the crowds and can really make it work – Subiaco has a real dearth of cute little places like this!

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