by BRENDAN FOSTER:
For years we’ve been talking about the banality of Fremantle’s food scene.
The arrival last year of La Sosta shook things up. Now, Deca Bodega has taken things to a whole new level again.
As it happens the Spanish tapas bar has opened next door to La Sosta, at the corner of Market and Bannister Streets, in the place recently vacated by Vidlers (and which, many years and renovations ago, was home to a funeral parlour).
Deca Bodega has been an overnight hit. Open just a few weeks word has spread like wildfire and you’ll be lucky to get a Saturday night seat without booking ahead.
After our midweek lunchtime visit for this review we raved about the place to a colleague, who tried it out and enjoyed his Friday lunch so much he raved about it to the boss, who booked a party of nine for Saturday night, who then raved about it to their family and friends, who… well, you get the picture.
This place just does everything right. From the simple yet chic decor to the tight, mouth-watering menu that has not a hint of sag about it.
Highlights are crispy duck and pineapple tacos ($16), garlic prawns with chorizo ($18) steamed clams, jamon, herb and cherry tomatoes ($14), and sugar-cured salmon and nicoise salad and fattoush ($14). For a light lunch you might simply choose the hommous and pita ($6). But there’s plenty more: Pork belly and more fish and meat dishes, for example.
All the dishes were so full of flavour, texture and taste we thought witchcraft was at work.
When the first dish came out and was a hit, and then the second, and then the third, we knew we had stumbled onto something special.
The salmon salad was a stand out, with big, translucent chunks of deep red sugar-cured fish nestled amidst the quenching fresh nicoise vegies peppered with capers.
The chicken salad saw us served with generous serves of manchego and cornmeal-encrusted cuts of tender meat, and the crispy duck and pineapple tacos mixed the rich meat with the juicy tangy fruit.
Ten dishes between four (working out to about $30 a head) provided a meal at a standard so far unmatched along the strip.
Colleague Stephen Pollock, a Scot, said without hesitation this was the best meal he’d had in Fremantle—delicious, fresh produce and great service.
“The standout dish was the garlic prawns and chorizo. Deca went a long way to restoring my faith in tapas.”
As for the Saturday night experience: It went like a charm, with the boss just as effusive about the dishes and the service (Matteo—a star!).
Is a renaissance of Fremantle food underway? Here’s hoping so.
If La Sosta and Deca Bodega are anything to go by, then perhaps a night out in Fremantle can once again be something to look forward to.
85 Market Street, Fremantle