Well Sharon and I just got back from visiting Duende. It’s located in a funky spot in Leederville, and boasts an extensive wine list and a bevy of tasty bite sized dishes on the predominantly tapas menu.
I’ve been to Duende a few times now, and this return trip was mainly to refresh my memory on how great the place is, in readiness for writing a stunning review. But after getting back, I’m left with a somewhat dissatisfied feeling in my mouth/stomach/wallet.
Duende’s style is trendy tapas. Not cheap $5 potato balls, or spicy meatballs that you might find in a cheap tapas bar… more along the lines of intricate dishes made with specialty ingredients often sourced from overseas (like jamon serrano and manchego cheese).
My memories of this place are sublime tasting dishes full of flavour and paired with a huge selection of local and international (Spanish and French mainly) wines. This trip however, i found myself looking at the menu and wondering how a dish of potato, chorizo, mint, and olive oil, served in a dish the size of a peanut bowl, can be worth $14… Sure it was tasty… but was it worth it ? I am far from one to skimp on prices, but when I feel like im not getting value for money it tends to grate pretty quickly.
Then looking at the wine list and seeing out of total of a hundred or more wines… there was only a handful available by the glass.
I was really trying to find things to like, but it seemed like it just wasn’t the right night. We had a selection of different wait staff, who varied between forgetful, cheeky, and patronisingly friendly. The wait staff there generally have a bit more character and spunk than your regular restaurant, but tonight instead of seeming refreshing or funny, it just came across as irritating. You can joke and muck around all you like if you remember my order and bring me decent food… if not… don’t even bother.
So what did we order:
Potato, Chorizo, and Mint salad
Sweet Corn and Manchego balls
Some kind of avacado salad
Skewered King Prawns in garlic butter (i think)
Having ordered the sweet corn and manchego balls before, i clearly remember them being light and airy and melting in your mouth as you bit into them. This time they would be more accurately described as salty cheese balls, dry and floury. Far from the experience I’ve had in the past.
So after finishing our dishes and waiting another 15 minutes for someone to come back and take our dessert order, we thought it best to end the night there and then.
I would really love to go back and describe the first experience I had dining at Duende. Being continually delighted as dish after dish of simple, elegant, and above all delicious food came out… but alas, this was not that night.
I still think it’s a great place, but perhaps not the golden child of my memories.
As always, do try it yourself… having too high of an expectation may well have been a factor in my overall level of satisfaction.
662 Newcastle St
(08) 9228 0123 (booking advised, no byo)