Located just beside beautiful Freshwater beach is the award-winning restaurant, Pilu. I had been there quite a few years ago, and with a faint memory of how wonderful the suckling pig was, it was time to rekindle that memory.
We booked a table for dinner, which was a bit of a shame, as that meant that we missed out on the pretty views of Freshwater beach. The lighting inside was dark, so flash photography was a must.
The Nectar Spritz was a cold pressed apple, pineapple and mint drink, topped with soda. If you like pineapple, you’d probably like this.
I preferred the Sofia – a chamomile, peach nectar, cranberry juice, mint and Italian limonata. It was minty and refreshing.
It was a special occasion, so we ordered the 7 course degustation. We started with complimentary rice chips with a squid ink emulsion, macadamia nuts and salty fish roe. The chips were thin and crisp, and combined with the salty roe and squid ink, was like a taste of the ocean.
We were also brought a slice of Sonoma sourdough with whipped butter from Pepe Saya. The butter was interestingly salted with mussel roe, another nice reminder of being by the ocean.
The first course was the Pecorino consomme, hand rolled fregola and pepitas. The cheesy consomme paired well with the nutty pepita seeds, and its flavour was absorbed by the soft, pearly fregola at the bottom of the bowl. It was quite an interesting dish.
The Fremantle octopus, black olives, kipler potatoes and parsley came next. I really liked this dish. The dried black olive was the perfect salty element for the beautifully cooked, crunchy but tender octopus. The potato and fried parsley were crisp and there was a little bitterness from the sprinkling of red powder (which I couldn’t identify).
The third course was Chestnut strozzapreti, vongole, zucchini flowers and wild fennel. Although the al dente pasta didn’t really taste like chestnut, the broth was packed full of flavour from the clams. It perhaps erred on the salty side, but I didn’t mind so much as all that flavour was absorbed by the beautiful zucchini flowers and firm strozzapreti.
The fourth course was the Humpty Doo Barramundi, leeks, puffed fregola, onion and squid ink puree. The fish was well cooked and the puffed fregola on top provided some crunch. The roasted leeks brought sweetness to the dish and the squid ink sauce was tasty.
My companion didn’t eat fish, so our waitress kindly offered the Lamb belly, lamb consomme, baby carrots and potato puree (one of the fifth course options) as replacement. The lamb belly was tender with a crisp top layer and the consomme clear and meaty.
Then came the course that we had been so eagerly waiting for – the Melanda Park free range oven roasted sucking pig, served with roast potatoes, pickled radish and olives.
Ah yes, I remember you now suckling pig – paper thin crackling with the fat rendered out between it and the tender, juicy meat. The only (really tiny) criticism I would have was that the dish was a little salt-heavy (there was salt in the potatoes, on the crackling and from the olives). But for that crunchy, heavenly crackling, all was forgiven.
The pre-dessert dish was a Cinnamon and ginger granita with date, apricot and walnut. The granita was too strong in cinnamon flavour, making it taste a little medicinal. What I did like was the spicy ginger aftertaste, which was cleansing, and the dried apricots. The date-encapsulated walnut was a lovely touch.
Dessert was a Sardinian fried pastry filled with ricotta and sultanas, served with honey.
I really enjoyed this dish. The pastry was crispy, the mild ricotta filling was creamy, and the raisins and generous honey topping was pleasantly, but not overpoweringly sweet.
The service and food was excellent, as what you’d expect from a restaurant of such calibre. I’d recommend going to Pilu for lunch, then you can enjoy the amazing views in addition to the great food and attentive service. And If you can, don’t pass up the suckling pig.