When we are not travelling one of our favourite past times is eating out. Whilst many bloggers recently made their way to Costa Brava for Tbex, we experienced a slice of Spain locally. Feeding our appetite for Spanish Tapas we headed to Rockingham and enjoyed our second experience at Rustico Tapas. Rockingham is a beachside suburb south of Fremantle, where food lovers are well catered for with a host of cafes and restaurants along the foreshore with views overlooking the ocean.
We had a lunch booking to meet friends for 12 o’clock. It was quiet when we arrived, but this place is popular and was soon filled. Rustico’s location offers spectacular views overlooking the foreshore and would provide amazing views of the sunset as you sip your cocktail in the alfresco area. Inside the décor is magical, how can the ambiance be romantic even when the whole place is crowded and buzzing? The furnishings are a mix of outdoor alfresco, benches and high chairs and cosy tables offering a great feeling and vibe.
As their website suggests, the staff are not only there to carry plates and pour wine, they are there to be a culinary tour guide and that is just what we experienced. The staff were very friendly, attentive and knowledgeable. First a large pitcher of water is bought over and our glasses filled, as our waitress explained tapas for those who had not experienced the Spanish way of life and their beautiful cuisine. It was suggested as there were four of us, we order eight tapas to share. The menu is conveniently broken into sections of Charcuterie, Sea, Land, Garden and Favourites or the 6 course Degustation. There is also a daily specials backboard menu.
The menu is authentic and vibrant and the choices numerous, so we opt to order a cocktail whilst we continue to peruse the menu. The drinks list is as extensive as the food menu. The ladies order an Orange blossom, orange juice, gin and honey and a Chocaholic, a creamy chocolate liqueur, Baileys and Kahlua. The men select a Matsos Mango beer and a Pipsqueak cider.
We found our waitress to be attentive without being in our face, she was informative and knew the menu well. With her assistance we finally selected. Sweetcorn and Cheese Croquettes with rocket and aioli, Scallops with chorizo, pear puree & candied jamon, Crispy skin Barramundi, sauce vierge & creamed leek, Lamb truffles, pea & mint puree, Petit Mignons, beef fillet wrapped in bacon, sweet potato & green peppercorn sauce, topped with asparagus, Free range Pork belly, apple puree & sticky Pedro Ximinez and Braised Beef cheeks with chorizo, mushrooms & red wine jus.
We sat near the open kitchen so I was able to take some photos as they were plating up some mighty fine looking tapas plates. The food wasn’t bought out all at once, which was great way to enjoy each delicious morsel and give our tummies time to catch up to enjoy the next dish. The meals were spectacular, well presented, excellent quality and flavours. The chefs really know how to present the complete dining experience, providing us a gastronomic showcase of tasty, seasonal produce. The soft, tender scallops partnered well with a sweet pear puree and salty, crispy jamon, the beef cheeks melted in our mouths, but the crispy Pork belly received an undisputed “OMG” with the crunch of the crackle and it had the perfect balance of fat to meat ratio. This dish was the absolute pleasure it should be. Our barramundi had a beautifully salty, crisp skin and moist, flaky flesh. Every element was mouth watering and just reliving this meal is making me hungry.
Each dish was without fault, there was a lot of love and pride coming from the kitchen and nothing was spared on presentation or flavour. We made our way through each scrumptious dish and then it was time for Sangria while we considered the dessert menu. They serve three types of sangria, red, white or a rose, raspberry and ginger sangria and I’m sure each equally addictive, potent, deliciousness. With dessert choices like Churros with white butterscotch and chocolate sauce, Panna Cotta, tasting plate (4 of the chef’s choices) or Blue cheese, quince, lavosh, apple, walnuts and muscatel our decision was no easier than selecting our mains. On my first visit to Rustico I had the tasting plate, so this time ordered the churros and was not disappointed. If I thought the Pork belly was good, I had not pre-empted the “Mmm” that would follow my first bite of the crisp on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside churros.
We may have only been to Rustico twice, but it’s already a firm favourite. I am eager to get back there to try the Wild Mushrooms and sherry cream, Fried Goats cheese with orange blossom honey and many other dishes. With the service, presentation and constantly changing menu, know we’ll become regular customers. Apart from the wonderful menu, this place has a great feeling and vibe, confirmed not just by us, but by lots of other happy looking diners.
There is heaps of free parking nearby, but I would suggest you park a little further and do what we did and walk off some of this delicious food with a stroll along the foreshore.
Rustico offers a great shared conversational dining experience and a lazy Saturday lunch with friends, or would be equally suitable for a romantic shared evening meal with your loved one at sunset. So thank you for the culinary journey. We may not have been overseas, enjoying time at Costa Brava with our fellow bloggers, but we were content. Like they say “Barriga Llena Corazon content” (Full stomach, happy heart).
Do you have a restaurant that takes your tastebuds on a culinary tour?
Update: It’s only been a few months since we were last at Rustico, but we wanted to come back again to share the experience with another of our friends.
Having a lovely setting and relaxed atmosphere and knowing from our past experiences how quickly this place fills, we booked ahead with Dimmi. We had a table of three reserved inside and the live music was the right volume to still have a decent conversation.
Our waitress could not have been more welcoming or knowledgeable about the large selection available both on the menu and the specials board, being attentive, polite and friendly. Management of Rustico should be very proud of how their staff manages a busy restaurant, delivering fantastic service. It is rare to find staff who know the menu, offering food and drink choices to the patrons without pressure and appear to be so happy with their job.
We started with a jug of very refreshing rosé sangria with raspberry and ginger and perused the menu. We ordered Sweetcorn & Cheese Croquettes, Scallops with chorizo, pear puree & candied jamon, Patatas Bravas with romesco & aioli, Broccolini & almonds with nut butter & toasted almonds, Crispy skin Barramundi, sauce vierge & creamed leek, Petit Mignons, beef fillet wrapped in bacon, sweet potato & green peppercorn sauce, topped with asparagus, Free Range Pork Belly, apple puree & sticky Pedro Ximinez.
By this time the restaurant had filled, but the staff kept serving quickly and efficiently and ensured we had a relaxed and enjoyable meal. The food also came out quickly, and in true tapas style we had a steady stream of food, perfectly paced to give us time to relish what we had in front of us. The croquettes were a perfect starter and melted in our mouth, golden crunchy outisde and creamy and moreish inside, followed by the scallops that were juicy, tender and rich. The Barramundi was cooked to perfection and my favourite, the Pork Belly did not let me down. We ended our meal with a Dessert tasting plate, four of the finest house made desserts on a tasting plate which included Chocolate Macadamia Brownie, Cherry Ripe slice, Choc Pot and French Martini Pannacotta and my favourite, a Chocoholic cocktail to finish. Steve had the Spanish Cheese Plate with Queso Machego, Valdeon Blue, muscatels, quince, lavosh, apple and walnuts with a Pear Cider.
Rustico is a well-managed restaurant, delivering fantastic service and delicious food and has been consistent each time, so we know we’ll be back. After all, seems we still forgot to order the Wild Mushrooms and sherry cream, Fried Goats cheese with orange blossom honey.
Check out the menu and tell me what you’d order.
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