Sushia Reigns Supreme

Sushia Izakaya & Bar, Perth CBD

One of my favourite cooking television shows growing up was Iron Chef – the ridiculously overdramatized cooking show, led by Tajesgu Kaga, a Michael Jackson-like impersonator (he sure had some dazzling jackets) who would showcase the cream of the crop of Japanese chefs, pitting them against the three “Iron Chefs”. Whilst I loved the intensity of the competition, the hilarity of the judging and commentary panel, and the sheer brilliance of some of the cooking displayed by the competitors, I never really understood the appeal of some of those dishes – fish ice cream anyone?

Down the stairs we go...

Down the stairs we go…

Now that I’m significantly older, I have a greater appreciation of trying out different cuisines and styles. One cuisine I didn’t think I had particularly warmed to throughout the years was Japanese. So many of my friends love it, primarily because it’s fresh, delicate and doesn’t pack it on the carbs. I don’t hate it, but I am just not an active advocate of it… until now. In the past, I would have easily elected to have a big bowl of pasta over tempura, but my time at Sushia Izakaya & Bar proved that Japanese food could be exciting, inventive and more than just a few pieces of sashimi and sushi.

Menu anyone?

Menu anyone?

The two besties and I decided to catch up at the exclusive Brookfield Place on a Thursday night. Brookfield Place was a ghost town that night – there was no one in sight within Perth’s gleaming new food precinct. That suited me fine, as the bestie and I had almost gotten into a harrowing car accident, on our way to the restaurant (thanks Mitchell Freeway) and just needed some quiet time to appreciate the fact that we were still alive. After some deep yoga breathing, we entered Sushia, and were immediately seated by the lovely waitress.

It was dark and elegant inside Sushia, pretty as a dressed up basement. The centerpiece was a tree, graced with blood red leaves, on a bed of what looked like ice chips, but were actually pearly white pebbles. There were candles to romanticise the establishment. The interior was evocative of a traditional Japanese temple, with its stone walls, gleaming polished wood, and the golden gilt of the dimmed lights. We were lucky enough to be seated in between the tree and the open kitchen, giving us great views of the surrounds.

Perfect for Autumn!

Perfect for Autumn!

First off the bat, Sushia had some great customer service. Our waitress looked like she had stepped off the set of some Korean/ Japanese drama, as she was so pretty, in a fragile, softly spoken kind of manner. She asked if we had been to Sushia before, to which we replied that we were newbies of the joint. She suggested that three people could easily share up to eight dishes and proceeded to go through the menu. She explained each section thoroughly and highlighted the popular dishes. Throughout the night, she was equally attentive and exceedingly patient, giving us time to wait and ponder over the menu, as my other friend was running a bit late. She also didn’t laugh in my face, as I annihilated the pronunciation of the Japanese dishes we ordered – turns out languages isn’t my forte.

 Sashimi Santenmori ($18)

Sashimi Santenmori ($18)

The waitress had recommended the Sashimi Moriawase, however I wasn’t a huge fan of raw fish, so we went for the smaller version, the Sashimi Santenmori ($18). The pros within Sushia’s kitchen staff didn’t just slap a bunch of raw fish on a plate that night. No, at Sushia, the tuna or Maguro (まぐろ) had been seared, cut into fine slabs and fanned out on a bowl of ice. The salmon or Sake (鮭) had received the same gracious treatment, resplendent in a dazzling, translucent pink.

As a whole, it was a striking dish, with fanned pieces of apple, slices of orange, bundles of pickled daikon, a soup spoon containing wasabi and green spring onion, and was even decorated with bright yellow dandelions. Soya sauce came alongside it, but I relished in the clean finish of both types of fish, without the condiment. It was evident that Sushia had used the highest-grade fish – the tuna and salmon were firm and gleaming, with each piece cut against the grain. It was not slimy nor acrid in the slightest, and was a refreshing first courser.

Gyo Tataki ($21)

Gyo Tataki ($21)

The Gyo Tataki ($21) was a line of seared beef, topped with garlic chips and chives. Right away, you could see that the beef had been cooked to perfection – it had been browned on the outside and was still rare in the middle. Once in the mouth, it melted away, indicating that it was top quality beef. The Gyo Tataki packed a punch in flavour, predominantly from the ponzu sauce, which was mildly tart with strokes of soya sauce. A combination of chives, scallion (spring onion) and momiji oroshi was reminiscent of multicoloured confetti, aligned down the centre of the beef.

The momiji oroshi was a combination of grated daikon radish and red chilli peppers, in which the red chilli peppers were in an understated form. I loved the sharp taste of the pickled daikon alongside the garlic chips. The garlic chips also worked well with the momiji moroshi to create a crunch amongst the smoothness of the beef. The garlic chips provided a toasted smokiness to the whole dish and had been used sparingly (a flake per piece of beef) in fear that it would overpower the natural flavours of the meat. Brilliance in full form.

Soft Shell Crab Salad ($24)

Soft Shell Crab Salad ($24)

The Soft Shell Crab Salad ($24) sounded extremely appealing to me, and was also an additional recommendation from our waitress. The soft shell crab was in plentiful portions, the delicate battered skin tearing away easily as we bit into it. The deep fried goodness of the soft shell crab was so different within the context of the dish – not only was there very little oily residue, but the big cubes of fresh, firm watermelon was the perfect foil to the slight salty crunch of the crab. The watermelon itself was bursting with fruity freshness, but had undertones of salt and sourness from the amazu ponzu sauce. In the centre, were delicate rosettes of green salad leaves, wrapped in cucumber and decorated with chopped tomato. An aesthetically pleasing dish, that was also delicious. My favourite of the night!

In-house Sushi!

In-house Sushi!

Hamachi (king fish sushi, $18)

Hamachi (king fish sushi, $18)

You can’t go to a Japanese restaurant and not try the in-house sushi, so we ordered the Hamachi (king fish sushi, $18) and Kamo (duck breast sushi, $22). The king fish was sublimely fresh, with a slithering, slippery texture. The lustrous kingfish blanketed pockets of rice, which had a slight lemony acidity to it. The king fish sushi was smattered with micro herbs and topped with wafu gelee. The wafu gelee turned out to be a gelatinous cube of wafu dressing, which had some explosive citrus flavours (attributed perhaps to the potential yuzu inside). The presence of the gellee showcased some genius technique from the Sushia kitchen team, as it allowed the rice to be saturated with a slight tartness just before consumption, whilst not infusing the king fish at the same time.

Kamo (duck breast) sushi ($22)

Kamo (duck breast sushi, $22)

The Hamachi sushi was in stark contrast to the duck breast sushi, bringing forth flavours of earthy sweetness, as opposed to sourness. The duck breast was rosy inside and wonderfully succulent, impressively cooked like the beef we had been served that night. The duck breast had been drizzled with a yuzu miso dressing that was honeyed in flavour, perhaps due to the fact that it may have been deglazed by mirin, a rice wine that had a higher sugar content than normal wines. Quality sushi indeed.

Wagyu Gyoza ($25)

Wagyu Gyoza ($25)

My ritual is ordering gyoza at every Japanese restaurant I go to, and tonight would be the same circumstance. The Wagyu Gyoza ($25) jumped out at me and was the most expensive of the two gyoza dishes on the menu. The wagyu mince fell apart as soon as I bit into it. It was hot, heady and deliciously moist. With the wagyu’s higher fat content, the gyoza filling was not dry as anticipated, like typical minced meats. It had been tossed with some scallions and mushroom duxelles, which was simply finely chopped mushrooms sautéed in herbs and butter.

I’m used to having gyozas containing more vegetables or fungus than actual meat, but this was a fantastic amendment to the usual standard – the mushroom acted only to enhance the earthy flavours of the meat, rather than a substance to stuff the dumpling. The wagyu was enveloped in a caramalised pan fried skin, perfectly crispy. Alongside it was a smear of sweet potato puree – silky, sweet and nutty. I kept going back for seconds, appreciating how everything worked so well on the plate together – the puree, the tenderness of the wagyu, and the vinegary characteristics of the dipping sauce. Mouthwateringly good.

Unagi Fried Rice ($18)

Unagi Fried Rice ($18)

Our last savoury dish was the Unagi Fried Rice ($18) which had been crammed with gorgeous pieces of eel. It actually was the bestie that first got me hooked into unagi back in 2009, which in my opinion, tasted just like fish, but with a higher oil content. The flakes of eel in this fried rice had still retained the eel’s original oleaginous texture. I love my fried rice with a bit of crunch and lots of egg, which Sushia’s rendition certainly exemplified. The rice had caught to the bottom of the wok, creating portions of smoky, caramelized chunks. The rice had been evenly coated in tsume, a mirin and soya based sauce and finished with kizami nori, which was finely shredded dried seaweed. Some of the best fried rice I’ve ever had. Thank goodness I had finely pointed chopsticks – otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to pick up every grain of rice!

Dessert Platter ($35)

Dessert Platter ($35)

Dessert time! Considering the high standard of all the dishes that preceded the arrival of the dessert menu, we were very enthusiastic about what was to come in the sweet aisle. Going all out, we ordered the Dessert Platter ($35), a selection of the Chef’s special desserts. To say that it was simply a “selection” was a gross understatement – the bamboo mat the platter came on, seemed to hold almost every single dessert displayed on the menu.

The chocolate delight (aka the chocolate marquise) in the centre of the mat was exceptionally decadent. The crisp crack of the chocolate on top alluded to the sublimely tempered chocolate, the layers beneath light and creamy. It was quite rich, but not markedly saccharine, as it had been made with dark chocolate. The biscuit base had been constructed of a feathery crumble, so different from the hard cheesecake foundations I’ve had in the past. Beside it was another thick brush of dark chocolate paste, with several blobs of raspberry gel.

Chocolate Marquise in the centre

Chocolate Marquise in the centre!

At the back was the tofu cheesecake, Sushia’s own signature dessert. My first reaction was, “Tofu cheesecake? How will this work?” It turned out that the kitchen of Sushia was very capable of wielding its magic once again. The cream cheese interacted well with the tofu component of the cheesecake, which was rather neutral in flavour. The cheesecake was ivory in colour, with a whipped, fluffy consistency. The richness of the cheesecake was offset by a valley of passisonfruit coulis on top of the cheesecake.

To the front of the chocolate marquise was the banana harumani, which were crispy fried bananas wrapped up in a pastry and served with the flavour of the day ice cream (white chocolate). The pastry was thin and crunchy, very similar to the wanton wrappers that make up spring rolls. Instead of a burst of carrot and vermicelli noodles however, it was some crushed banana and red bean paste. It was a refined  interpretation of deep fried banana fritters, spotted with passionfruit coulis. My pick for desserts.

The mochi ice cream was green tea ice cream, encased in a mochi flour pastry. The great thing about green tea (and matcha in general) is its unique flavour and how it isn’t as sweet as other flavourings. The mochi flour pastry had been artfully moulded into an arch and sported a polished, glutinous gleam. Its sticky chewiness worked well with the ice cream, which had also been coated in toasted coconut. Last but not least, were the small balls of semi froddo, potentially raspberry in flavour. They were ice cold and delicious, with an almost mousse-like consistency and had a fruity sharpness. The trio of us finished the platter with gusto, with enough on there for all of us to have a sample of everything. It was amazing.

One more of the crab!

One more of the crab!

The bestie is incredibly hard to please. I’ve taken her to so many places to eat and she’s always been “meh” in reaction to some of the food she has had. That night at Sushia was that one exception, where all of us were pretty ecstatic about the restaurant’s food and service. The food came out at a cracking pace, to the point that we were leaving some dishes on the table, while we rapidly consumed the rest. There were bright smiles from our two main service ladies, with one of them reminding me of Felicity from Arrow (I kept on smiling at her in a very creepy manner). The only slight observation, was that when it got exceptionally busy, our finished plates were left out on the table for a while, with promises of dessert sadly beyond our reach. As a whole though, the service was attentive, professional and smart.

Thank you Sushia!

Thank you Sushia!

I was also striking impressed towards the end of the service, of how very calm everyone was in Sushia’s open kitchen. Every single person who worked in the kitchen that night had an aura of tranquility and precision. No one was screaming or shouting orders in Sushia’s kitchen. No “Yes Chef! Coming Chef! Chef there is a problem!!” Everyone was zen. Totally zen. It was almost scary. As a restaurant that consistently churns out tender meats in any shape of form (across the night we had sampled two different types of beef and duck) as well as fresh seafood is most certainly a dining gem. It had occurred to me about halfway through the night, that we had ordered a ridiculous amount of food, but it was in actuality, it was just enough to feed the three of us. I was exceptionally impressed, and for $60 a head (whilst not particularly cheap) it was certainly worth the quality of food and service provided throughout the night. I can’t wait to return!  Thank you Sushia for a brilliant night!

Rating: 8 out of 10.
★★★★★★★★☆☆

 Address: Brookfield Pl, 125 St Georges Terrace Perth, 6000
Website: http://www.sushia.com.au

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Bites:

  • Open for lunch and dinner Monday to Friday (12pm to 11pm) and Saturday for dinner (6pm to 12pm).
  • Specials are on offer including lunch specials ($15) from Monday to Wednesday and an early bird bento box special ($35 pp).
  • Bar and teppanyaki grill also available!
  • Bookings available via Dimmi, email (brookfield@sushia.com.au) or via phone (9322 7771).

- L.

 

Pepper Lunch Never Fails to Please

Pepper Lunch, Perth CBD 

Since visiting Melbourne, dining alone has been a pretty comfortable experience for me. I sit there with a magazine, giving me time to rest and reflect on not only the food, but on life itself. The day I visited Pepper Lunch, I was in the company of a Scoop magazine, whilst I decided to devour some dinner after a long day at work. Good old Pepper Lunch was waiting for me, already half-full by the time I arrived there. I had first been introduced to Pepper Lunch by a friend, who had been to the one in Japan, and had highly recommended it. After a great first experience there, I was keen to try it again. That day, I made a beeline for a table after quickly placing my order.

Pepper Lunch on Barrack St

Pepper Lunch on Barrack St

As luck would have it, I had managed to score within happy hour, so my small beef rice (with extra cheese) cost me a mere $7.95. Winning! The food came out super quick, a word of warning printed on the strip of paper surrounding the iron clad plate. The plate reminded me of a sizzling wok, ready to rumble as it hissed at me. I gave it the old toss and turn, sprucing things up with a splash of sweet onion sauce which sat at the table. The rice was dosed in a good amount of pepper, and the cheese melted instantly, adding a gooey element to the dish.

Before...

Before…

... After

… After

The corn was in abundance within the dish, fresh and sweet, popping in the mouth. The beef trans-morphed from pink to brown in a matter of seconds. I had to be extra careful not to accidentally brush against the side of the hot plate – it would have resulted in some significant second degree burning! As the label around the dish informed me, the iron plate would continue to cook the food for another 20 minutes, so I had exercise great caution.

Service was pretty good, with the rice speeding out from the kitchen only 5 minutes after I had placed the order. Efficiency is always sure to please a hungry, stomach-rumbling customer like myself. The contact with the wait staff was minimal, as I had only interacted with the lady who plonked the dish in front of me. They were smart though, with consistent warnings about not touching the hot plate, with visual reminders about how hot it could get (according to the blackboard on the wall, the pan could heat up to 80 degrees Celsius!). This was reiterated by the strip of paper that came wound around the hot plate, which also gave the customer a basic method of how best to tackle the dish.

Happy Hour!

Happy Hour!

The staff also seemed happy enough to let me sit and read after I had finished my magazine. People crept in and out and at random moments, and it got quite busy by the 5pm mark! I appreciated the low price range of Pepper Lunch’s dishes – for a less-than-$10 price tag, it was a bargain. It was also a fast, inexpensive meal to enjoy, with a wide range of different “flavours” to choose from. Pepper Lunch is fancy fried rice at its finest, and is a bit of fun!

Address: Shop 5g/ 95 Barrack St, Perth 6000

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Bites:

  • Open for lunch and dinner every day of the week (11am to 10pm most days).
  • Take away food also available!
  • Happy hour is 3pm to 5.30 pm daily, with discounts on the beef and hamburger pepper rice, as well as takeaway chicken, curry, steak and salmon (all under $10!).
  • Sides include rice, miso, chips and salad (ranging from $2.50 to $3.00 per serving).
  • No reservations, walk in only.

- L.

A Late Lunch @ La Veen Coffee & Kitchen

La Veen Coffee and Kitchen, Perth CBD

Instagram is my frequent inspiration for up-and-coming places to eat, and a recent flood of delectable dishes from La Veen Coffee and Kitchen had appeared on my newsfeed, leaving me in fits of envy. The bestie and I decided to try the specialty coffee store late on a Friday afternoon, prior to an intense shopping session. Making your way through Perth now is nothing short of a miracle, requiring you to avoid bone crushing construction vehicles, heavy-duty cement blocks and steel pipes, plumes of dust, and bright orange witches cones, which seem to block your entrance to every street in Perth.

La Veen on King St!

La Veen on King St!

Whilst it’s great that our infrastructure is getting a long-overdue makeover, it was a mass inconvenience to the bestie and I that day. We had to avoid construction going over at the Perth train station and up over at Wellington Street, which required us to go back around in a big loop, in order to get onto King Street. We caught a glimpse of the new “Prince Lane” which looked like it could be a promising new foodie strip, along the way of other royalty-related lane ways (hi there, King and Queen Street!). Are we getting more Melbourne or what?

It was pretty late by the time we arrived (close to the 3pm mark), and I was already a little worried by this stage that we had missed the cut off mark for lunch. Lucky we were reassured by the lady at the counter that the kitchen was still open! We happened to be the only people inside when we arrived, but before long we were joined by two other groups of dining patrons.

Decked out in black tiles!

Decked out in black tiles!

La Veen looked like it belonged in the city – the whitewashed brick walls, the black tiles, the steel stools and dark timber. It was  very “city apartment-eque”, with its minimal furniture, faux grass doormat, flowers by the door and tall windows, which allowed the afternoon glow to flood the space. The low growl of the coffee machine and the heady scent of the freshly ground wake-me-up call added to the illusion.  The bestie and I sat down with our clipboard menus, which boasted a moderate number of menu items – on offer there were seasonal dishes, sides, bagel sandwiches and desserts.

Complimentary apple juice!

Complimentary apple juice!

I went up to order and coincidentally saw a small white card propped up near the register – a free glass of apple juice for every dine-in customer! I enquired if we could grab two glasses of apple juice, being a lover of all types of fresh juice. The bestie enjoyed her juice immensely, as did I. It was refreshing, deliciously sweet and better yet pulp free! We also got a snapshot of the barista working their magic, pumping green apples into the juicer as the finished product spilt into our cups. How lucky were we?!

Chicken Poppers ($14)

Chicken Poppers ($14)

As tempting as the bagels were, I went for the La Veen Fried Chicken Poppers ($14) instead, feeling like something a little different for a change. I expected greasy, batter-ridden balls of chicken, the quintessence of American dude food. The La Veen version was much more refined, coated in a golden coat of breadcrumbs and quickly fried off, without any trace of oily residue. The chicken inside was succulent and piping hot. Alongside it were wafer-like crisps, christened “herb potato thins” by the La Veen team.

Also beside the chicken poppers was a bed of pickled vegetables. The pickled carrot and red onion were an interesting concept, and while it was good to clear the palate before embarking on the next bite of chicken, they were extremely vinegary and sharp in taste, almost overwhelming the rest of the dish. I felt like there could have been something else a little bit more substantial on the plate that would have complimented the chicken and chips better, perhaps something more neutral in flavour.

Crispy Pork Belly with Pumpkin Gnocchi ($23)

Crispy Pork Belly with Pumpkin Gnocchi ($23)

Food envy reached feverish heights when the bestie’s Crispy Pork Belly with Pumpkin Gnocchi ($23) was delivered to the table. It was a huge slab of pork belly, one of the biggest I have ever seen grace a plate. The meat itself was delicious, tender and shredded easily with a fork. The crackling however, was a bit of let down – the defining crunch was missing, as we come down on it with the knife and the fat was rather leathery. This was further confirmed by the thick layer of unrendered fat beneath the golden skin. The pumpkin gnocchi on the other hand, was some beautifully cooked pasta – balls of springy potato pasta, pan seared to crispy perfection, with oregano and red onion strewn across the top. The parsnip puree was also a revelation, a smooth, nutty accompaniment to the roast pork and gnocchi.

Goodbye La Veen!

Goodbye La Veen!

Sadly by the time we were finished our the mains, the kitchen was shut for dessert. The waitress who collected our plates was extremely apologetic, but I completely understood – who can hang around the whole day for customers who eat lunch at afternoon tea time? As a whole the service was standard – we did manage to get a smile from one of the lovely girls who served us towards the end of the afternoon. Food came out within a reasonable time frame and the free apple juice was a big bonus for a hot day. I loved the delicate cherry blossom adorned plates, which the food was displayed on – it was lovely that presentation had been taken into great consideration for all the dishes. All in all, it was a good dining experience. I hope La Veen Coffee and Kitchen hangs around for a lot longer, seeing as I am very keen to return for breakfast!

 Rating: 7 out of 10.
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Address: 90 King Street, Perth CBD 6000

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La Veen Coffee & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bites:

  • Open for breakfast and lunch every day of the week (7 am to 4 pm on weekdays, 8 am to 4 pm on Saturday and 10 am to 3pm on Sunday).
  • Also does take away food (bagels and sides included), coffees and catering.
  • Free Wifi available.
  • Cold drip coffee on offer for drinks!
  • Reservations available via phone (9321 1188) or via email (Coffeelovers@laveencoffee.com.au).

- L.

No Funny Business with Clarences

Clarences, Mount Lawley

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Rustic interior…

My friend was leaving for Singapore for a holiday (yay for annual leave!) and as a result, we decided to catch up at the Mount Lawley precinct, for a midweek dinner. I had booked at Clarences primarily because my sister’s boyfriend really wanted to try their weekly specials, in particular, their seafood paella. I had been to Clarences a number of times, on occasion enjoying drinks in their back courtyard, and had been there a few other times to dine. The very last time I had been there, the food hadn’t been particularly enjoyable. However, a year previous to that day had been a different story – when I had dined there with a friend, the food had been fantastic. I was willing to give this mixed bag another chance.

Lonesome booth

Lonesome booth

I made a booking for 5.30pm and was pleased to find the place mostly empty when we arrived. We were placed at a spacious leather booth at the very front, the air conditioner in full functional mode (it had been excessively hot that day). Water was poured for us instantaneously, and I consulted the menu, while my sister’s boyfriend informed us that there were indeed weekly specials!

Espresso Martini ($)

Espresso Martini ($19)

For drinks, my friend went for the espresso martini ($19). I had a sip and fell in love with it – the rich, mellow coffee flavours were accentuated by the dash of chocolate liqueur. Luckily, the alcohol hadn’t been used too heavy handedly, which can often leave a burning taste in my mouth. The froth on top was delicate and light, reminiscent of a cappuccino.

Glass of cider

Glass of cider

Rosé with paella special

The weekly special that my sister and her boyfriend had ordered came with a complimentary glass of rosé. I swapped my ordered glass of cider with my sister’s boyfriend, substituting it for the rosé (I’m more of a wine person). My sister and I were impressed by the wine we were served – the rosé was crisp and sweet, my favourite characteristics of a good quality wine.  It was enough to make me giddy for the rest of the night, resulting in loud proclamations of how wonderful life was. I liked how the wine glasses had “Clarences” stamped on the front – it was a nice, classy touch, if not slightly possessive.

Chips with ($)

Chips with Aioli and Ketchup ($10)

My sister ordered a bowl of hot chips with aioli and ketchup ($10) as an afterthought, which came out first before any of our mains. It was a wise choice, acting as a entrée to satisfy our growing stomachs, while we waited for the main course. The chips were generous in quantity, perfectly crisp and crunchy. The aioli that came with it had a very mild acidity and slight notes of garlic – it was velvety in texture and glossy. The chips had been treated with a spritz of salt, giving it its extra crunch.

Seafood Paella for two ($40)

Seafood Paella for two ($40)

The seafood paella for two ($40 with a complimentary glass of rosé each) looked mouthwateringly good. The waiter warned my sister and her boyfriend that the large, iron clad pan would be burning hot, so they dug into it with caution. The seafood, consisting of prawns, mussels and fish, were exceptionally well cooked. The paella was a little under seasoned, but the scents of the seafood really sung through parts of the dish. The bottom was beautifully caramalised, and the rice had avoided becoming the potentially gluggy mess that many a paella and a risotto can morph into. It was a beautiful, hearty dish, that was certainly value for money.

Barramundi with potato bravas, edamame and furikake ($36)

Barramundi with potato bravas, edamame and furikake ($36)

My friend and I shared two dishes, the first being the barramundi with potato bravas, edamame and furikake ($36). The fish was simply sublime. The texture of the fish was smooth and amazingly moist, with the pearly, lustrous flakes falling away with a single touch. The skin was pan fried, crispy and golden brown. It was some of the best cooked fish I have ever had. The potato bravas were delicately sliced and roasted, splashed with a spirited chilli oil. Barramundi has a medium oil content, so it didn’t really need the two slabs of herbed butter on the top for moisture, but it certainly added to the flavour of the fish. The edamame puree was a delight, marrying beautifully with the barramundi. The puree was creamy, with an feta cheese-like texture, and a buttery aftertaste. What an amazing main meal to have on an ordinary weeknight.

Chicken wings & chipotle sauce ($10)

Chicken wings & chipotle sauce ($10)

Our second dish was the famed chicken wings and chipotle sauce ($10). I’m the sort of person who loves tearing into chicken wings with wild abandon, ending up arms deep in greasy crumbs. This wasn’t the case with these chicken wings, because after spearing my fork in, it became clear that the meat was going to fall off the bone with minimal effort on my part. There was a dense, salty crunch from the deep fried skin, and the chicken itself was tender and moist. The chipotle sauce had the slightest acidity and was so light on the palate. The dish came as a wing and chicken drumstick combo, and there seemed to be an endless amount of them. Finger linking good.

Chocolate Pot ($)

Chocolate Pot ($12.50)

All of us were keen for dessert, though the three of us girls were reasoned out of getting all four of the desserts listed on the menu. (“It will be way too much food and you guys are ¾ full anyway!” My sister’s boyfriend exclaimed). Our first dessert was the choc pot, marshmallow and vanilla ice cream ($12.50). I had the choc pot over a year ago, and was surprised it still graced the menu with its presence. It was just as good as I had remembered – the marshmallow was a sticky cloud of Italian meringue on the top, lightly charred by a blow torch. Beneath that was a rich, seemingly bottomless layer of chocolate, a conglomerate of decadent cake and a grandiose mousse. The vanilla ice cream was placed within a fluffy cloud of Persian fairy floss, which was an added bonus. The whole thing was heaven in a pot.

Strawberry Cava ($)

Strawberry and Cava Terrine ($12.50)

The strawberry and cava terrine ($12.50) was a slab of rosy jelly, strawberries and blueberries suspended within the jelly, like an abstract piece of artwork. Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine, which was the most flagrant of the flavours within the terrine. The Cava had a melon-like pureness to it, but had a full-bodied aftertaste, straying away from the sugary components of the fruit.  The kiwi sorbet was feathery, icy and sweet, but offset by a trace of sourness from the kiwi. The sorbet was my favourite component of the dessert! The pistachio soil added an extra crunch to the dessert.

Salted caramel ice cream ($12.50

Banana and Coconut Fritters ($12.50)

The banana and coconut fritters with salted caramel ice cream ($12.50) jumped out at me, because if there are two things that compliment each other, it’s banana and salted caramel. Ripe bananas had been forced onto skewers, lightly battered and coated with a crumbly mixture of desiccated coconut.  It was the healthy man’s fritter, using minimal oil – my sister’s boyfriend lapped it up, along with the ice cream. The salted caramel ice cream was grounded on a bed of toasted desiccated coconut, which added a minor crispness to the ice cream. I indulged in the ribbons of salted caramel that ran though the ice cream, like golden rivers. Delicious.

Long table for shared dining!

Long table for shared dining!

Glances beyond the glass doors

Glances beyond the glass doors

Clarences is the embodiment of classic sophistication. The interior design of Clarences is like that of a rustic American town house, with its exposed walls and its careful litany of wine bottles, maps and books. The interior is almost like a classy office space, one that belongs to a literary genius or a cultured, worldly aristocrat. Apart from Clarence’s gracious ambience, the service was genuine, friendly and professional. The staff were all exceptionally attentive, all smiles and simply superb in manners. Menus for dessert were provided that night without any notification, plates were cleared regularly and water was topped up. If your looking for a place to impress on Beaufort Street, check out Clarences!

Rating: 8 out of 10.
★★★★★★★★☆☆

Website: http://clarences.com.au/
Address: 566 Beaufort St, Mt Lawley 6050

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Bites:

  • Clarences is open Monday to Friday for dinner (from 4pm till late) and Saturday and Sunday for lunch and dinner (12pm till late). Closed on public holidays.
  • Weekly specials available from Monday to Wednesdays, including house wine and ciders.
  • Happy hour is 5pm to 6pm weekdays with tap beer, ciders and wine by the glass available for $8!
  • Reservations can be made via phone (9228 9474) or through Dimmi.

-L.

 

Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine @ Lido Restaurant

Lido Vietnamese Restaurant, Osborne Park

My daily dilemma is trying to find a place to eat for lunch, a place nearby, that also caters for good food. Usually, I only have time to go somewhere that is within walking distance (if that) and habitually have to resort to something self assembled from IGA, like a salad or a chicken roll. Luckily, today I only had half a day of work and my friend and I booked a lunch date together! She had recommended we try Lido Vietnamese Restaurant in Osbourne Park, the second venture of the same-named Northbridge restaurant. It had been a long while since I had Vietnamese food, so I was so eager to try something fresh and healthy, but filling at the same time.

On top of the balcony....

On top of the balcony….

The two story building was completely deserted when my friend and I arrived, the restaurant itself decking out the very top level. We were met a smiling lady, who gave us the option of sitting inside or out. The ambience inside looked dark, damp and stuffy, so we chose a table outside, appreciating the slight breeze on this particularly sweltering day. The balcony gave us a rather industrial view, mostly of the surrounding buildings and the bustling Main Street roads.

Rice Paper Rolls ($)

Rice Paper Rolls ($8.50 for one serve)

I’m fixated with rice paper rolls. I have been ever since my arduous University days, where my friend and I would trample the lunch rush, to get the last lingering rice paper rolls at the Curtin University deli. To this day, I miss my rice paper roll fix and haven’t been to Curtin for a long while now – to satisfy the itch, I ordered Lido’s version, Gỏi cuốn (pork and prawn rice paper rolls, $8.50) which came in a set of two. My friend also ordered the same, so we had a pile of four on the plate. Plump prawns, vermicelli noodles, chewy pieces of pork, and a thick sprout were blanketed in a glossy rice paper called Bánh tráng. I like my rice paper particularly thick, and these ones were beautifully smooth and glutinous. Sticky, sweet hoisin sauce and crushed peanuts added some addition flavour and crunch to these rice paper rolls. So very good.

Bún bò xào ($13.50)

Bún thit nướng ($13.50)

The Bún thit nướng ($13.50) was a humongous bowl of stir-fried beef, marinated in lemongrass, with rice vermicelli. It came out and I gaped at my friend (“How am I going to finish this?!” I exclaimed). She assured me I could, and I attacked the noodles with my chopsticks. The stir-fried beef was popped on top, in plentiful portions. It had been marinated in a sticky, sweet oyster sauce and then seemingly cooked over a fiery wok, creating a BBQ-like fare, evident from its charcoal edges and smoky, garlic aroma. The fried beef was juxtaposed with the fresh rice noodles.

One thing I love about Vietnamese cuisine is its ability to encapsulate a variety of distinctive and divergent flavours. One dish can be sweet, sour and salty all at once. This dish was the personification of traditional Vietnamese cuisine. There was a salty crunch from the crushed peanuts and fried shallots on top of the meat, a pickled acerbity from the daikon and shredded carrot, a slight nutty flavor from the splash of fish sauce, and a sweetness from the marinade. The cucumber and mint, both staples of Vietnamese food, were also present in the bowl of noodles. There was some chilli on the side, if I wanted a bit of heat to the dish too, but I only dabbled in it, not having the greatest propensity for intensely hot aftertastes. I couldn’t get enough of the dish itself though – it was brilliant. I was glad the bowl was so big, especially at the end of the day when my tummy started rumbling again!

Soya Milk Drink ($)

Soya Milk Drink ($4)

My friend ordered a tall glass of sua dau nanh ($4) a milky soya bean drink, which was beautifully fresh and cold. As much as I wanted to try out dessert, we were fast running out of time (she only had an hour lunch break). Conversation with the lady at the front was nice enough, though we ran into our fair share of awkward moments (“You’re going on a diet?” she laughed when my friend ordered her rice paper rolls and drinks … Hmm, maybe my friend was just not that hungry?).

A relatively healthy (and delicious lunch)!

A relatively healthy (and delicious) lunch!

Nevertheless, the food at Lido was exceedingly good – fresh and vibrant, with a great balance of flavours. Seeing as we were the only ones there, the dishes came out at a relatively good pace, and were particularly generous in portion sizes. The menu itself was also all embracing of different types of meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes. I thought it was definitely worth the price we paid for it. The bill ended up being $30 for the both of us, which my friend graciously paid for! Thanks M! Come to Lido for good food at reasonable prices – you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Address: 232 Main Street, Osborne Park 6017
Website: http://lidostirling.com.au

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Bites:

  • Open for lunch Monday to Friday (11 am to 3pm) and dinner every night (5pm to 10 pm).
  • The food menu also includes entrees, soups, duck, chicken, beef, goat, lamb, satay, squid and scallop dishes as well as their famed noodle and rice dishes.
  • Wine list also available.
  • Reservations available on 9349 2919.

- L

Big Things are Coming for Little Guildford

Little Guildford, Guildford

After a refreshing holiday in Melbourne, I was in dire need of some quality family time. The standards for great food and service were set skyscraper high, after an impossible number of great feeds in the city of lights, accompanied by equally fantastic service. My family and I decided we would try a relative newbie, Little Guildford, which had been sitting on my “must try” list for a couple of months. We live pretty close to the Midland/ Guildford area, so it was a matter of herding our crew of six into our car on a sunny Sunday morning (impressively quite difficult for a group of independently functioning adults) and off we hopped.

Sitting outside in the sunshine!

Sitting outside in the sunshine!

First impressions of Little Guildford were that it was a quaint and elegant café, sitting in the midst of some beautiful, sweeping greenery. We positioned ourselves in the al fresco area, a space covered by white sails. It was a matter of repositioning the chairs and ourselves, until we were all seated in the shade, but eventually we succeeded. The place was buzzing with vibrant energy and I couldn’t wait to immerse myself in all the food.

Big Breakfast with poached eggs ($22)

Big breakfast with poached eggs ($22)

Big Breakfast with Scrambled Eggs ($22)

Big breakfast with scrambled eggs ($22)

The brunch menu was pretty extensive, with a whole page of options. Dad and my sister’s boyfriend went for the hearty route and ordered the Little Guildford Big Breakfast ($22). My dad ordered the poached eggs, whilst my sister’s boyfriend had his scrambled. The eggs came out with sourdough toast, as well as grilled bacon, chipolatas, roasted tomatoes, potato cakes and pesto mushrooms. I was lucky enough to sample the potato cake, which was smothered with a golden hollandaise. The potato cake itself was beautifully flavoured, with herbs and had a nice crunch to it. The guys were very content with the selection of breakfast items on their plate.

Fried Eggs on Toast ($12)

Fried eggs on toast ($12)

My brother downgraded from the Big Breakfast to the Eggs on Toast ($12), which included free range Swan Valley eggs on sourdough, with an extra serve of grilled bacon ($3). By downgraded, I mean he originally wanted to get the big breakfast, but it seemed too ambitious for him at the time, so we swayed him into getting an alternative dish. What value for the eggs on toast though! The little one received two thick rashes of bacon, next to two slices of toasted sourdough. It came with two fried eggs, both with a gooey, golden yolk. It’s a great sign when a café can execute a simple dish well, and for $15 it was enough to fill up my ever growing sibling.

Smashed Avocado ($15)

Avocado Smash ($16)

My sister has had almost every type of smashed avocado under the sun, so on that particular day, it was no surprise that she ordered the Avocado Smash. Her Avocado Smash ($16) had a chunky abundance of the said main ingredient, interspersed with halved portions of cherry tomato and crumbling Danish feta. It piled high on top of the sourdough, dressed with EVOO and balsamic glaze. Not only was it a vibrant dish, but it had a delicate balance of flavours – an earthy creaminess from the avocado, acidity from an invisible splash of lemon juice, and a tart bite from the flecks of feta. The balsamic gave the dish a sticky, sweet element, bringing out the contrasting components of the dish.

Mushrooms and Truffle ($16)

Mushrooms and Truffle ($18)

Mushrooms and Truffle ($18) was mum’s pick of the day. The mushrooms were coated in pesto, and topped with poached eggs, shaved parmesan and truffle oil. Balsamic oil wove itself across the plate, with a flurry of sprouts placed on the very top. The mushrooms had retained much of its natural juices, exploding upon first bite. They had been cooked well. Two poached eggs, with a popular runny river of yolk, blessed the plate upon the first swipe of the knife. I loved the paper-thin slices of mild parmesan cheese on top, and the toasted sourdough was back in full force, giving the dish some additional substance. Delicious and filling!

Buttermilk Pancakes ($14)

Buttermilk Pancakes ($14)

My buttermilk pancakes ($14) with vanilla cream, berry compote and maple syrup was sublime. In my opinion, dad’s homemade pancakes reign supreme, but Little Guildford’s buttermilk pancakes gave his ones a run for their money. The pancakes themselves were light and spongy, stacked three-fold on the plate. I’ve had so many versions of pancakes I’ve lost count, and more often than not, pancakes are swathed in a thick, stodgy berry compote and covered by hefty amounts of heavy cream. The touch at Little Guildford was much more subtle – a blob of custard cream, infused with vanilla, and topped with fresh blueberries and strawberries. The berry compote had been made with a stroke of customer consideration, substituting frozen mixed berries for the fresh kind. The raspberries and strawberries in this compote seemed as though they had almost been soused, stewed, but not disintegrating into a bloodshot mush. Even the maple syrup that pooled at the bottom hadn’t been splashed unceremoniously over the pancakes, which avoided overpowering the pancakes with its saccharinity. It was a clean, clever and well-balanced dish, that I would easily order again.

Beautiful Little Guildford

Beautiful Little Guildford

Venturing inside...

Venturing inside…

Little Guildford in my books is a big winner. The food is simple, but it is executed well. It is certainly worth the price you pay for it – great deliberation has gone into the presentation and combinations of flavours. Service was also fantastic – the gracious girls that made up the majority of the waitstaff, bustled about, not in the least bit fazed by the hubbub of the diverse Sunday morning crowd. The food didn’t take too long to come out as well, with the 10 minute mark barely passing by, before all our dishes were served. A café with great ambience and sure to cater to everyone, Little Guildford is a must visit for anyone in the West Australian region.

There were also a tantalising number of sweet treats on the brunch menu, including a sticky date pudding, a warm apple cake and a Swan Valley fig and honey cake. It was a welcome return back to my hometown after a series of great food experiences in Melbourne – if this is where suburban dining is headed, then our Perth brunch dining scene is looking very bright indeed.

 Rating: 7.5 out of 10
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Address: 104 Swan St, Guildford 6055

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Little Guildford on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (only open for dinner on Thursday, 6pm to 10.30 pm), Friday (lunch 10.00am to 2pm, dinner 6 pm to 10.30 pm), Saturday and Sunday (breakfast 8 am to 2pm).
  • Little Guildford is a dog friendly café with areas outside for you to sit and enjoy your food (whilst your dog drinks from the café’s own dog water bowl).
  • Takes reservations (via phone on 9378 2223).

- L.

There is Always Consistency @ Cantina 663

Cantina 663, Mount Lawley

If there is one place that never lets me down, it is Cantina 663. I’ve been to Cantina for lunch, breakfast, dinner and dessert over the years and safe to say, it has always met my expectations. I was looking forward to going back to my favourite, pan fried gnocchi joint for a bit of breakfast. Service at Cantina 663, along with their food, is always standout.

Lemongrass and ginger tea ($4.50)

Lemongrass and ginger tea ($4.50)

It was a Friday morning (my day off, hurrah!) and I was dining solo, armed with my Mac and ready to smash out some blog reviews. It wasn’t too busy when I arrived and I was invited to take a seat at the request of the lovely man at the front, who was already immersed in delivering coffees to other breakfast patrons. I ordered a lemongrass and ginger tea ($4.50) to start with. I sipped at it, whilst I browsed through the menu.

Initially, I had ordered the Cantina Sub (complete with lamb meatballs) but after a couple of minutes, the lovely man returned to sit next to me, with a mournful look on his face. He expressed his sorrow and said that they unfortunately weren’t doing the sub that day. Undeterred, I went for the smoked ham hock croquettes, with scrambled eggs and pickled shallot salad ($20).

Croquettes

Smoked ham hock croquettes ($20)

The croquettes were evenly crumbed on the outside and fabulously creamy inside. I love my croquettes cheesy, and bits of stringy mozzarella were evident in these croquettes, intertwined with shreds of ham hock. Piping hot, gooey goodness. The croquettes sat on a hoisin-like sauce, sticky and very sweet, almost to the point that it subdued the flavours of the croquettes. I love my scrambled eggs just under and Cantina appeared to have read my mind – not only were they creamy, but they had a beautiful soft, almost runny consistency. The pickled shallot salad was splashed with a vinegary dressing and also contained a copious amount of fresh parsley and finely cut green apple. A sprinkle of salt here and there completed the dish. The condiments reminded me very much of my Mary Street Bakery experience (owned by the same people!) and I was equally impressed with the magic here at Cantina.

Corn beef hash, house HP and fried egg ($20)

Corn beef hash, house HP and fried egg ($20)

The week after, I had the corn beef hash, house HP and fried egg ($20) for some morning fuel. It was a fry up of crispy potatoes, diced corn beef hash and a fried egg. The potatoes were delicious, as was the beef hash, which was ruby red in colour. The meat flaked away and bits of browned fat had attached to some parts of the corned beef. The saltiness of the cured beef wasn’t too overpowering, complimenting the sweet tomato-ey flavours of the HP sauce. The fried egg had a runny yolk and possessed a crispy edge. Scattered amongst the dish were carefully chopped pickles, that appeared to be there to add an acidic bite to the dish, when things got too heavy with the protein and starch. It was a great dish that would have certainly worked as a great hangover cure.

Cantina, ever so classy!

Cantina, ever so classy!

Cantina is cool and classy, with some great service. The food didn’t take too long to come out and I was consistently checked up on throughout the morning, but not badgered to annoyance. They are a friendly lot over at Cantina! Observations from my leather booth informed me of their love for their regular customers, eagerly greeting them and launching into avid conversations about their lives, joking accordingly. It was such a fun environment to be in! In addition to their great service, Cantina always dishes up something different for breakfast – they are creative, known for their unique flavour combinations, and for their investment in fresh produce. Cantina 663 still proves itself to be one of the special places to dine on Beaufort Street.

 Rating: 8 out of 10.
★★★★★★★★☆☆

Address: 663 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley 6050 (in front of Astor Arcade)
Website: http://www.cantina663.com

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Cantina 663 on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open for breakfast Monday to Sunday (7.30 am to 11.30 am), lunch Monday to Sunday (12 pm to 3pm), antipasto Monday to Saturday (3pm to 6pm) and dinner Monday to Saturday (5.30 to late).
  • Offers a chef selection family styled menu for 4 or more people ($65 pp).
  • Reservations available (via phone: 9370 4883).

- L.

Escaping to Bistro Guillaume

Bistro Guillaume, Victoria Park

Deciding to eat at Crown Casino made one thing strikingly apparent – I could not, for the life of me, accurately pronounce the name of Bistro Guillaume. As I booked over the phone for Bistro Guillaume, I embarrassingly fumbled over the name of the famed French chef Guillaume Brahimi, resulting in an unintelligible run of phonemes. Luckily, the lady on the other end of the phone was smart enough to decipher the mess and slotted in a booking for two on a Friday for lunch. As a proud Crown Perth member, I had received word of a “lunch special escape” at Bistro Guillaume, which I was keen to capitalise on.

Chandeliers of shiny plates?

Chandeliers of shiny, broken plates?

The “lunch escape special” was priced at $49.50 per person, inclusive of a two course lunch at either Modo Mio, Bistro Guillaume, Silks or Nobu, with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine and a day pass to the Crown Metropol’s exclusive pool. It sounded like a fantastic deal, so I coerced A into going with me. I had booked for 12 noon and was unfortunately running super late that day. By the time I had run into the restaurant at 12.30 pm, I was in frantic overdrive, scared that the staff would berate me for my tardiness (previous late arrival experiences would dictate similar reactions from staff members). As luck would have it, the restaurant itself was rather quiet and A and I were seated near the window, with a clear view of the sparkling pool. People were already lounging around outside it, taking advantage of the summery weather.

Glass of complimentary sparkling wine

Glass of complimentary sparkling wine

I loved my glass of champs – nothing cheers me up more than a good vino. The glass was topped up with a fruity, white wine which was crisp and mellow, with notes of fruity freshness. The sparkling white wine woke me up quicker than an electric shock, prepping me for the main meals, which came whizzing out soon after we placed our order. We had the option of having either entrees and mains, or dessert and mains. Being a resident sweet-a-holic, I went for the latter option. Who can say no to that temptress, chocolate?

Duck

Leg of duck confit

On my very first visit to Bistro Guillaume (over a year previously), I had the confit duck with petit pois a la francaise, which, at the time, had been a wonderful, warm winter dish. The petite pois a la francaise was a rich, buttery, pea-filled stew poached in stock. With a smooth and favoursome gravy, the peas cooked just right and ham hock offsetting a sharp saltiness admist the stew, every element on this dish complimented each other brilliantly. The duck’s dark, tender meat just fell off the bone – it was absolutely delicious. This time around though, the duck leg was significantly smaller in size than the first time I had tried it – it was about half the size of its original portion. However, I did really enjoy the flavours and it was a main that was a great representation of French cuisine.

Fish

Barramundi fillet

The barramundi fillet on a bed of carrot and ginger puree was A’s main, which I luckily got to sample a bit of. The barramundi was a gorgeous piece of fish, pan seared on the outside, with a golden crispiness to the skin. The flakes of fish itself were firm and moist, coming apart in large pieces. The carrot and ginger puree was a highlight of the dish, melding well with the coriander butter. A floss of pommes alumettes (the French rendition of chips) sat atop the fish. It was airy, crisp and added a textural crunch. A and I thought it was a solid main meal.

Chocolate Souffle

Chocolate soufflé

The chocolate soufflé with cherry ripple ice cream was served to us by the waiter, who recommended that we “dunk” the icecream into the gooey centre of the dessert. A had a few bites of it, whilst I commented that it was a pretty unique method of presenting and consuming a soufflé. We had to devour it quickly, as the ice cream turned into liquid within minutes. The soufflé was cloud-like in texture, crusty on the top with a hot, eggy and pillowy centre. The last time I had been there, it had come in a burning hot copper pot which was a nice, artistic touch. This time it came in a ramekin and while not as pretty, I was still warned by the waiter that it would be unwise to touch it. I only had a streak of the sticky cherry ripple in my ice cream, which was a little disappointing. Overall though, it was a rather pleasing dessert.

Profiteroles

Profiteroles with vanilla bean ice cream and warm chocolate sauce

A’s dessert was the profiteroles with vanilla bean ice cream and warm chocolate sauce. The choux pastry was expectantly light and puffy, with balls of ice cream sandwiched in the middle. It was a truly decadent dish, finished off with a rich chocolate ganache. The ganache itself wasn’t overly saccharine, more on the bitter, dark side of chocolate. However, the sauce had a slight graininess in texture which mystified me a bit, as I love my ganaches satin smooth. It still looked a treat!

Our desserts!

Our desserts!

I truly appreciated our time at Bistro Guillaume, in particular its polished service and flamboyant decor. There were some parts of Bistro Guillaume that erred on the classy side, with its glittering chandeliers, tall mirrors and glints of gold. Other parts showcased flashbacks to the 1970′s, with its bright apple green colour scheme and bold black and white checkerboard patterns. Despite this, Bistro Guillaume was more ritzy than daggy, with different sections hallowed out to cater for different events – a bar section, a lounge for the casual diners, seats and tables for the formal dining area and an al fresco area, for those summery folk who appreciate a water view. The service was polite, friendly and worldly with our waitress making appropriate recommendations and informing us of the favourites. The food at Bistro Guillaume was also lovely, with only a few minor adjustments from perfect!

It was a wonderful lunch and certainly worth the return trip! I will be sure to keep an eye out for Bistro Guillaume and its ever expanding menu. Some fine French cuisine!

Rating: 7 out of 10.
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Website: http://bistroguillaumeperth.com.au
Address: Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood 6100

Bistro Guillaume on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open for dinner Monday and Tuesday (5.30 pm till late) and Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner (12pm till late).
  • The full menu includes entrees, mains, pasta and risottos, a lengthy option of sides, dessert and dishes to share between two (including snapper, wagyu sirloin, Chateaubriand and a whole roast chicken).
  • Open for functions (a booking over 10 people will require a set menu).
  • Reservations can be made via phone (9362 7551), email (restaurants@crownperth.com.au) or online (http://bistroguillaumeperth.com.au/reservations/).

- L.

Fans of The Partisan?

The Partisan, East Perth  

I’ve been to Toast and The Royal numerous times in the past and have always passed by The Partisan. I have always been amorous of Claisebrook Cove – it’s a gorgeous gem, hidden just behind Royal Street, and perfect for a morning stroll, waterfront dining or a BBQ in the adjacent park. It’s my ultimate place to live one day – in an apartment or townhouse, overlooking the river, close to the city but minus the noise pollution. For this particular Sunday morning, my sister, her boyfriend and I were looking for a nice quiet morning filled with good views and food.

Claisebrook Cove!

Claisebrook Cove!

It soon became apparent after we arrived, that “quiet” was not going to be a particularly accurate adjective to describe this particular breakfast session. The whole area was packed, people spilling from The Royal all the way to The Partisan. We hopped across several different tables, trying to find enough space for the three of us, until we finally reached a high table right in the centre of the shade. It was still heavily cluttered with plates, cutlery and cups, so we moved them quickly onto another table. I grabbed a menu and some water from the front, before we sat down to make our choices.

Al fresco seating

Al fresco seating

We had to go up to order, waiting in a queue in the sunshine, before I finally reached the front. My sister really wanted to try the sautéed wild mushrooms with the toasted brioche, but by 11 am that day, they had sold out. She was a tad disappointed, but whipped out her back up dish. The man at the counter was friendly, approachable and happily took our order. I took out my Gold Card for a trusty discount, which turned out not be so trusty. The number had unfortunately been scratched out, though I had no recollection whatsoever of having been to The Partisan in the past year. Saddened, I took it back.

By this point, dishes had piled up in all corners of the outdoor tables and being an obsessive compulsive clean freak, the lack of general cleanliness had really started to irk me. There was no doubt about it, the place was busy, but by this point, the morning rush was starting to die down. The waitresses who delivered our food to the table looked harried and plonked down the dishes, without so much a word. I was a tad affronted by the service at this stage.

Iced long black ($4)

Iced long black ($4)

My sister ordered an iced long black ($4) which was ridiculously watered down. Usually when my sister requests an iced long black, establishments will serve it in a smaller glass so that you really get the rich taste of the espresso shot, or they would have left the espresso off to the side for the customer’s own personal use. The shot itself, despite being watered down, was evidently an undershot, as it was sour and insipid. My sister had a few sips and left it untouched on the table for the rest of the meal.

Eggs on Toast ($14) & side of avacado ($4)

Eggs on toast ($14) and a side of avacado ($4)

Things didn’t really fare much better with my sister’s dish, which were the Eggs on toast ($14). My sister had her eggs scrambled with a side of avocado ($4). My sister is a pretty easy person to please, but she was not impressed at all with the eggs themselves. While the consistency was good, the scrambled eggs were severely under seasoned and they had buttered the toast (which is a pet hate in my family). The tipping point was the avocado. How it had left the kitchen in the first place was astronomical – it was a half portion of the smallest avocado I had ever seen, sprinkled with a bit of salt. It also happened to be the most under ripe avocado we had ever been served. It was so hard that my sister struggled to cut it with a knife, and it lacked the beautiful creamy consistency that constitutes a typically ripe avocado. For the quality and quantity of the side serving, it was most certainly overpriced.

Portugese sardines ($14)

Portugese sardines ($14)

A slight improvement came with my Portugese sardines ($14). A single piece of grilled sourdough held three slender sardines. The toast was again, quite small and thin and I was quite hungry by this stage. As a result, I wasn’t particularly over the moon about the overall size of the dish. The sardines did have a lovely texture, falling off the bone. I always enjoy the slippery, oily flesh of sardines with its glistening silver skin and I thought it worked well with the punchy flavours of the tomato and sherry sauce. The sauce had strips of sautéed tomato and white onion and it was interspersed with currants. One thing the dish did lack however were aromatics – while I thought the fried basil on top was quite clever for presentation and texture, it didn’t add a lot of flavour to the dish. I was expecting this dish to be more substantial, warm and exotic, but unfortunately it didn’t hit any of those expected marks.

Jerez Eggs ($19)

Jerez Eggs ($19)

The food fared a little better with my sister’s boyfriend’s Jerez Eggs ($19). It came in an iron pan, filled with eggs fried in chorizo, tomato and cumin sauce, chilli jam and house made flat bread. The chorizo and cumin provided some spice in the dish, the eggs sporting a great runny yolk. The chilli jam and tomatoes balanced out the salty savouriness with a bit of sweetness and the housemade flatbread looked just crisp. My sister’s boyfriend was quite content with it.

In the shade...

In the shade…

It was a beautiful day and the views were spectacular, but unfortunately, there is more to breakfast dining than the ambience. The few encounters we had with service was a mixed bag, with the general attitude of the waitresses not really up to par with the friendly, efficient service I’ve had in the past. The wait for the food also was a good 30 minutes, which was puzzling considering we appeared to have slotted into the end of breakfast service, and should have been competing with fewer customers at that stage.

In addition there was the general “overpriced debacle.” Having lived here in Perth my whole life and watching the prices inflate around me regarding grocery shopping and dining out, I am use to forking out a bit for good quality produce and food. $4 for a small, under ripe avocado was a serious misstep. I didn’t order any drinks but having looked at the menu, I was glad I gave it a miss – the $8 iced chocolate was one of the most expensive drinks I’ve seen so far, anywhere. For it to have that particular price tag, I was expecting it to be bucket sized with chocolate fireworks exploding from it.

It’s hard not to make comparisons between The Partisan and other cafes and restaurants in Perth, as brunch dishes are all priced around the $15 to $20 price range. Compared to other places in Perth, you can get hearty, considerate food for about the same price (see Typika Artisan Roasters, Harvest Espresso and Mary Street Bakery to name a few). I don’t know if I would come back to The Partisan again – sadly it didn’t really satisfy me and I didn’t really feel the love through their food or service. Sad to say, we weren’t fans of The Partisan after our dining experience. If you do end up going there, make sure you invest in the Jerez Eggs. It was one of the few highlights of the morning.

Rating: 5 out of 10.
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Address: 60 Royal St Shop 22, East Perth, 6004
Website: http://thepartisan.com.au/

The Partisan on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday to Sunday (7 am to late most days, on Sundays till 4pm). Open for dinner Wednesday to Saturday.
  • Entertainment Gold Card discount (25% off the total bill up to the value of $40).
  • Bookings available through website or via phone (contact: 6500 0165) except for breakfast on Sunday, Saturdays or public holidays.

- L.

It’s a chicken feast at Golden Chicks

Golden Chicks, Morley

(We are sad to announce that Golden Chicks has now closed down after this review was written. However we still want to publish this review, in anticipation for whether Golden Chicks will re-open in the future, wherever they may go).

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Golden Chicks: Don’t let the looks fool you…

If you disregard the stores around the area and the fact that there is a huge shopping centre in front of the restaurant, you’d think that you’ve stepped into Seoul in South Korea. Or at least, close to it. I was a bit skeptical of Golden Chicks at first; I mean, look at it. Yellow walls, small store with majority of the seats being outside and a seemingly confusing menu on the wall featuring low to medium quality photos of the food on the menu. Have I made a wrong choice for dinner tonight, I thought? No, people have said that this place was cheap and amazing, don’t let looks deceive you.

Golden Chicks is an import from Korea, with their speciality being fried chicken, but they do offer other Korean meals on the menu, from bulgogi (grilled marinated beef) to the lesser-Korean-more-Japanese variety, katsu. According to reviews on Urbanspoon, it seems like Golden Chicks have been around for a few years now, but I had not noticed it before. We umm-ed and ahhh-ed at the menu as we had no clue what to get. My boyfriend was set on bulgogi, his favourite Korean dish of all time. I was starving, so I wanted a meal, but I also wanted the chicken. I made a meal out of it and ordered the rice and a regular size deep fried soy chicken. I almost made the mistake of wanting to order the large and the owner/chef informed me of just how big the large serving was. I was glad he told me, even though I was certainly embarrassed. My boyfriend noticed the kimchi sign and asked for it too but the owner told us they didn’t have any left and that his wife makes them – sadly she was not able to make it until tomorrow. At least we now know it’s homemade!

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Regular sized deep fried soy chicken ($18.50)

There were three choices of chicken flavours that were available: original, soy and sweet chilli, all deep-fried in canola oil or roasted, in small, regular and large sizes. My regular sized deep fried soy chicken ($18.50) came out on a huge plate with deep fried chicken goodness layered on top of each other. Even though I could’ve ate a horse (obviously an over-exaggeration) as I was THAT starving, how the heck was I going to finish this?! The owner was well and truly right! Thank god my boyfriend became a walking garbage bin, because he helped me finish off the remaining wings and drumsticks. The chicken came out hot and fresh from the deep fryer. It was sweet from the soy, crunchy and also a little bit spicy, but it was also lip-smacking delicious. There were different sized wings and drumsticks throughout. The meal also came with tongs and a small plastic bag lined bin to dispose of the bones. Talk about cleanliness: what a fabulous idea for a minimal-mess meal.

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Bulgogi (Korean marinated beef) ($11)

Amongst all the confusion and explanation of the menu, the owner didn’t hear our bulgogi order, thus we waited 10 minutes after my meal came out before we asked where the bulgogi was. More embarrassment ensued and we ordered it, and it came out within five minutes, as he had promised. Promises kept are the best kind of promises!

The marinated beef came in a similar sized huge plate, mixed with japchae (Korean glass noodles; so good, one of my favourites). It was a huge serving with lashings of its juices and my boyfriend was so excited. The marinated beef brought him back to Korea with its authentic flavour and he managed to polish the meal off. Not bad for $11.

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Signs outside of Golden Chicks!

Golden Chicks is humble, simple and doesn’t try to deceive you. They have party packs for your catering and entertaining needs. There is only one person working the floor, kitchen, AND counter, which is pretty impressive, but it probably doesn’t get as busy as it should be. The chef/owner has worked in Tokyo, hence the Japanese dishes on the menu and he’s as friendly as friendly can get. If you are after a cheap meal with huge portions, then Golden Chicks is for you.

Don’t let its exterior fool you. Give Golden Chicks a chance.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10
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Address: Shop 3, 5 Progress St, Morley 6062

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Golden Chicks on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open every day for lunch and dinner until late.
  • They also have what’s called a “tornado”, which is a whole potato that is sliced like a continuous spiral on a stick, for $3. Cheap as chips (no pun intended)!
  • Deep fried food scares you? Don’t worry, they use 100% canola oil.

- A.