Tom’s Kitchen, Perth CBD
A and I, along with three of our girlfriends, decided to squeeze in an early TGIF dinner prior to our Moonlight Cinema session in King’s Park. I came up with the decision to dine in the city, thinking that it surely would be the most convenient option – it was a central location, a close drive to Synergy Parkland and had a great scope of restaurants to choose from! Things didn’t turn out exactly according to plan …
My friends and I arrived at our planned destination of Varnish on King, only to find out that yes, indeed it was Friday evening – the rowdy crowd of Perth CBD work goers were having their drinks/ work trash talk/ anticipatory Christmas celebrations at that very moment. We were met with a large horde of loud chattering businessmen and women, quickly realizing that there was no way we would be able to obtain a table without a booking. We slunk out past the security guard who had checked out IDs only a minute earlier, clearly embarrassed. We disappeared down Shafto Lane, as a shortcut to get to our next intended location, The Stables Bar. We were met with a solid wall of sound from another large gathering of workers at The Generous Squire. Trying to escape the clamour, my friends and I marched down the lane almost sweeping by Tom’s Kitchen. We stopped abruptly and considered it as a dinner option. It looked like there were still some spaces available inside and the menu posted on the outside wall looked appealing enough. Plus, A and I were armed with Entertainment Gold Cards which had a Tom’s Kitchen listing – in we went!
Ever the consummate professionals, the staff at Tom’s were quick to fix up a table for the five of us without a booking. We sat down on tall stools in the central section of the restaurant, beneath a high metal shed like pagoda. Gleaming light bulbs hung from the ceiling and the whole section was wrapped up in plastic sheets, protecting us from the cacophony of noise from Shafto Lane. It had a cool, casual ambiance about it. Menus and water were popped onto our table and we quickly looked through them. A section of shared plates were chosen – three entrees and two mains. While this was happening, I admired the black cloth napkins which were a touch of elegance in a casual dining setting.
Our lovely professional waitress took down our order without a hitch and before long our entrees were delivered to our table. The mushroom arancini balls ($14) came in a group of four, meaning sadly we had to cleaver one in half for our party of five. They were delicious. The mushroom infused Arborio rice was coloured in dark hues and was hot and aromatic. It was coated in a dense extra-crunchy coating of deep fried breadcrumbs and hit with a sprinkle of salt. The salad leaves beneath the arancini balls looked a bit anaemic and the aioli that came with the dish had a very strong bite of garlic and lemon. The lemon was very prominent in my first few samples of the aioli, leaving behind a lingering acidity on the palate.
Our second entree of sticky pork ribs ($16) was a fan favourite across the table. It came in three reasonably sized slabs. I tried to split mine with my friend and instead, forked off a large portion of melt-in-your-mouth meat. The ribs were so deliciously tender, coming easily away from the bone. There were potent hits of BBQ sauce making it tangy, sweet and sticky. Piled on top was the Italian slaw, animated in purple. My friend was a lover of the fresh Italian slaw, which comprised of crunchy red cabbage and was drizzled with a light dressing. It was a great side to the pork ribs. The waiters also swung by to stick a bowl of lemon water on our table, lest we get into finger-licking-beef-rib antics.
The last of our entrees was the salt and pepper squid ($17). There was an abundance of the squid, the sides scored and curled up on the plate. I felt as though the squid was a bit overdone, a little rubbery and hard to cut through. It was seasoned nicely with spices, salt and pepper. The chunks of watermelon were warmed up alongside the squid providing a juicy freshness, with the blobs of creamy feta cheese adding a nice contrasting sharpness to the dish. It was a nice combination of flavours, enhanced with several sprigs of mint.
Our shared plates and cutlery whirled away and almost instantaneously, our mains were on the table. Efficient service at Tom’s Kitchen was a definite plus in my books! Our first main of slow cooked beef cheek ($29) was lovely. A tender portion of beef was inundated by a rich red wine and tomato jus. The beef cheek was beautifully pink inside and was complimented by a mound of earthy paris mash. Delicious – we wish there were more of it!
We cracked onto our next main, the linguine with smoked salmon($27). Upon first bite, I quickly realised two things – one, there was no smoked salmon. Two, there were pine nuts in the pasta dish. I had a minor freak out, due to the fact that my friend was allergic to nuts (and of course, there was my annoying walnut predicament). I puzzled over it, pointing out the inclusion of pine nuts to my friends, who were also slightly baffled. However, the manager soon came out to inform us there had been a miscommunication between himself and the kitchen. Due to the shut down period of Christmas, they had been told to use up as many ingredients as possible within the dishes, resulting in the unexpected nut addition to our pasta dish. He apologised profusely, which we accepted graciously and everything was sorted out. On our way!
The pasta dish itself was quite lovely with the bites of pine nuts, adding an extra crunch. The pasta was al dente, just chewy and slicked in olive oil. The strips of bacon had been pan-fried gently and tossed evenly throughout the dish, the parmesan cheese also mingling its way throughout the strands of linguini. Mushrooms and spinach leaves were also present.
It was a close call with dessert time. Our outdoor movie session started at 8.00 pm and while I didn’t particularly want to be late (it was a pre-screening of Disney’s Frozen which undeniably had a short film prior to the main movie). However, we couldn’t leave without trying dessert. I hurriedly placed the order as we were tucking into our mains and we finished them off with vigour. It really did help that the food was coming out at a striking pace. Our first dessert was Jimmy’s chocolate & hazelnut mousse with chocolate crumble and raspberry sorbet ($12). The chocolate mousse came out in a quenelle and was lusciously rich and dark. The sorbet was beautifully smooth with a prominent presence of raspberry. A seriously good sorbet. The crumbled chocolate soil was reported to add a nice textural element to the dish. A self-indulgent sweet treat and the prettiest of the lot!
I had a few good spoons of the sticky date pudding ($12) which came with vanilla ice cream and a hot fudge sauce. The sticky date puddings were two piping hot mounds on either side of the ice cream. The puddings themselves were decadent and rather moist on the inside, as though the puddings had been steamed beforehand. There was the absence of chunky portions of sticky date, which suited me just fine as I wasn’t a huge fan of date. The highlight of the dish was the river of rich caramel, butterscotch-like fudge sauce. Delicious!
Whilst the desserts were lovely, I felt as though many of the dishes were a bit light in terms of portion sizes, especially for the mains. The dishes lacked adeptness in terms of flavour combinations and originality, but were mostly well executed, upholding the integrity of their ingredients. The dishes also may have room for improvement in terms of artistry and presentation – the entrees in particular could have been more delicately assembled. The textural elements of the dishes did work very well altogether however, each dish withholding contrasting crunches and consistencies.
We had to hightail out of there because we were cutting it close to time (7.45pm was approaching!) and I raced up to the counter with my two Entertainment Gold cards. The owner had to return one back to me because of the deal (buy one main meal, get one free – we had only purchased two altogether) and quickly took off the linguini. He apologised again for the previous mix up and genially asked if I had enjoyed the meal and if I had any other plans for the rest of the night. Despite the mishap with our pasta dish, it was nice gesture that the owner acknowledged the mistake and was later was happy to engage in conversation, asking if the food was good. I thoroughly enjoyed the friendly, personal and attentive service we received that night at Tom’s Kitchen.
In addition with the close call for the movie times, we were in a need-for-speed situation which Tom’s Kitchen certainly catered for. Luckily the dishes came out at a cracking pace, indicating efficient service! Altogether our bill came up to $100, splitting to a total of $20 each. Tom’s Kitchen has decent food with personalised and considerate service. I also think I spotted the lovely waitress from our brunch at No 4 Blake Street the other day! I would recommend Tom’s Kitchen for those who are meandering around Shafto Lane. Thank you for allowing us for to be on time for the brilliant movie (which had us singing for a few days afterwards and manically downloading the Frozen OST – bringing out our inner child!).
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Address: Shop 3B Shafto Lane Hay St, Perth CBD
- Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday to Friday (6.30 am to 9pm, till late on Friday night) and only dinner on Saturday night (6 pm till late).
- Entertainment Book Gold Card discount: One complimentary main course when another main course of equal or greater value is purchased (up to $35 in value).
- Reservations available through Dimmi or via phone (9321 0345).