On Saturday night, I was lucky enough to go to Ed Sheeran’s concert at Perth Arena. I entered being in two minds about his music and left an absolute convert. The man is a musical miracle-worker. With nought but two microphones, his guitar, and a set of looping pedals, he wowed the sellout crowd with his one man antics, weaving layer upon layer of vocal harmonies and guitar licks to create phenomenal backing tracks to accompany his significant lyrical talents. If you ever get the opportunity to see him live, seize it with both hands.
However, before all that happened, I was subject to another conversion! Despite spitballing for a week about where to go for dinner, the Sheeran Concert Crew was no closer to a decision on Saturday morning, when someone suggested a place called Roman Palace.
Roman Palace, on Manning Road in Cannington, is one of those places that I’ve driven past dozens of times and always thought, “Yeah, probs not, hey?” Well, this dismissal was a total confirmation of the old adage that one should never judge a book by its cover.
Having said this, if one were to judge the book by its opening pages, one may still be inclined to put the book away. Roman Palace is one of those family restaurants which has been around since about the late 1980s and has done little to modify their decor since, and this includes the presence of several water features which would not have looked out of place in the centre mall displays of most of Perth’s larger shopping centres during the 1990s. Sienna’s in Leederville is much the same. But these restaurants are not there to provide an aesthetic experience. They exist to provide good food bookended by decent prices and decent atmosphere, and at that, Roman Palace surpasses expectations to an nth degree.
As it was early, we were seated immediately, and presented with menus. The staff were attentive from the get go – throughout the entire meal, we never needed to hail a waitperson, for there was always one nearby just when the need for their presence arose. A small but thorough drinks menu offers many affordable wines and beers, and soft drinks. Our drinks orders were taken and subsequently delivered, and entrees were not far behind (generously sized portions of: garlic bread ($7.5), bruschetta ($9) and the Pumpkin Soup ($9.5) – the soup especially was revered by most members of our posse).
I was the only one of our quintet who was not a returning visitor, so I deliberated briefly about mains before settling on Beef Tortellini with smoked bacon sauce ($22.5). Everyone else knew already what they’d be having, and so other things on our table included Red Spot Emperor (market price), Almond Crusted Chicken with proscuitto, potatoes and creamy cheese sauce ($28.5), and Potato Gnocchi with creamy tomato sauce ($15.5). Duly supplied, the portions were again generous, freshly cooked, and absolutely delicious. This is good, solid Italian food cooked to perfection. The tortellini was lovely and soft without being difficult to get on a fork, and the flavours of sauce and chunky bacon pieces provided a pleasant balance to the beef of the tortellini. The chef obviously knows what’s what, too, because there was just the perfect amount of sauce, such that I could clean my plate like a genuine adult! Everyone else enjoyed their meals, too, and dismayed voices bounced back and forth as we all realised that Roman Palace’s generosity nearly had us beat.
It certainly did beat me – I usually have an infallibly unfillable dessert stomach. But, fit to bursting, none of us ordered dessert. However, with several delicious options which came highly recommended by my homies, I’ll be sure to leave room next time!
As we stepped back out into the balmy April night, the general feeling was that we had begun the night on a high which could only get better. And it did. Roman Palace and Ed Sheeran are two experiences I can highly recommend.