THERE’S been some famous Emilys down the years.
Suffragette Emily Pankhurst, poet Emily Dickinson, and “Big Emily” from the Gorbals, who I met in a Glasgow nightclub in the 1990s. I’ve still got the bruises to prove it!
The latest one to grace our shores is Emily Taylor, a Fremantle bar/restaurant named after a ship from the 1800s that sailed from England to Fremantle.
It stopped in Asia to pick up tea, spices and probably opium, as well as immigrants like Moon Chow, the first documented Chinese settler in WA.
Emily Taylor opened late last year in the old Warders’ Cottages on Henderson Street, and has been getting rave reviews from locals and food critics for its Asian fusion dishes.
My wife and I went for the “Any four dishes for $68” lunch deal, which seemed great value with a nice range of dumplings, bao, bites and share dishes to choose from.
Highlights included the charred lemongrass beef brisket, lobster and Manjimup truffle dumplings, and tapioca dusted cone bay barramundi.
sleek and classy with muted dark tones contrasting nicely with limestone walls and exposed stonework.
Large wine racks doubled as informal art, and a big open plan kitchen and bar provided a lively backdrop.
There was also a lovely mural of Emily Taylor couched in waves, and some gorgeous oriental parasols in the alfresco courtyard.
It reminded me of a winery down south with that subtle mix of refined but casual dining.
It wasn’t long before the ultra polite waitress was back with our spice island style kingfish ceviche.
This dish was in the Twilight Zone between a laksa and ceviche, with the Geraldton kingfish cured in coconut water vinegar with fresh coconut and chilli.
There was plenty of juicy kingfish and the sauce had a punchy, sweet kick that demanded your attention.
The star of the dish were the rice crisps – a crunchy antidote to the soft fish and creamy sauce.
Rounding things off were some red onion, cherry tomatoes and a liberal heap of coriander.
A modern and sexy take on ceviche, with the spice level perfect for the cooler weather.
Across the table my wife was getting hoed into Emily Taylor’s signature dish – the roast duck (counts as two dishes in the lunch deal).
She carefully layered the aromatic duck, green onion, cucumber and pickled vegetables on the diaphanous mandarin pancakes, before rolling it up like a gourmet joint and popping it in her mouth.
“Absolutely gorgeous and I love the bush honey glaze on the duck,” she enthused.
“The plum sauce is top quality and not too sickly or thick, while the dainty pancakes are wafer thin.”
I tried a couple and they were top notch, with the chilli adding a spicy twist to the smoky, aromatic duck.
My least favourite dish was the Crispy Xinjang style lamb.
I liked the cumin & szcechuan pepper crust, but the meat just wasn’t succulent enough.
The saviour of this dish was the burnt eggplant and fermented chilli; a delicious and slightly exotic burst of flavour that doubled as a makeshift sauce.
The lunch offer was filling and great value, so we had no room left for dessert, but my sweet-toothed wife noted there was only two on the menu and there could have been a bigger selection.
The eatery was busy on a Thursday lunchtime with everyone from business people to mums with bubs enjoying a casual but refined feed.
Emily Taylor lived up to the hype and it might have finally banished my memories of “Big Emily” from the Gorbals…
Emily Taylor Bar & Restaurant
19-29 Henderson St, Fremantle
by STEPHEN POLLOCK