Food for the Public

Public House, East Perth

The best thing about summer and autumn is the outdoor cinema season – warm nights means chilling out on the grass with a bottle of Rekorderlig and a tub of ice cream, ready to watch the latest action-packed adventure. This particular Thursday night, I had tickets to the Ben and Jerry’s Open Air Cinema, so my friend and I decided to make a date night out of it and chow down on some dinner beforehand. We decided on some food in East Perth before a session of Monuments Men by the foreshore.

Glowing bright, glowing light
Glowing bright, glowing light!

After a decent walk down Terrace Rd and up Victoria Ave, my friend and I finally reached Public House. I had heard mixed things about this corner restaurant, this bringer of all South American food. As we came around the side, we could already see all the corporate suits crowding the al fresco area, sipping on after-work wine, cocktails and beer. We entered and approached the bar, which was already swarming with people. I looked around, trying to catch the eye of some of the wait staff, who appeared to be busily folding napkins.

Casually grabbing a booth!
Casually grabbing a booth!

My friend and I debated for a few seconds about whether or not we would have to take a seat of our own accord, or if we should wait for the staff to greet us, before we were finally approached someone, who waved a hand in the direction of the booths at the back of the joint. The chaos of Public House was starting to get to me by this stage, which was a tad unnerving. I’m all for lively atmospheres, but when it borders on chaotic, then it can foreshadow scary things to come (i.e. unorganisation).

Peeking into the al fresco area!
Peeking into the al fresco area!

We grabbed a seat on a high, cushy leather booth, sidled up next to each other. There was quite a bit of space, which was good for me, as I unloaded what felt like half my house – I had brought blankets and jumpers along for the impending cool weather later, as well as the usual camera gear. We were given menus and poured over them for about 5 minutes, before we finally received a bottle of tap water and two glasses. It was another substantial wait before we had our order taken, and the staff whizzed off to get the food a cookin’.

Corn Fritters
Coriander and corn cakes with corn salsa ($13)

The menu was divided up into different sections: más pequeño (smaller plates), compartido (shared dishes), acompañamientos (sides) and sobremesa (desserts). The first of our dishes included the coriander and corn cakes with corn salsa ($13). The corn cakes came out as a trio and were lying on a bed of golden corn kernels and finely chopped pieces of red onion and tomato. I loved the freshness of the corn, onion and tomato medley which really cut through the creaminess of the corn cakes.

A strange but inventive addition was the popcorn – I don’t know if it necessarily added anything to the dish apart from an extra crunch and unfortunately the popcorn was a little on the stale side. The corn fritters themselves however, were delicious, though appeared to be more like croquettes than cakes (however both can be considered “fried batter,” so I suppose the distinguishing factor was subtle). They were killer croquettes though – crumbed, crisp and fried on the outside, beautiful and gooey on the inside. It had the right amount of corn and cheese, flavoured brilliantly. I was enamored by them.

Coffee and honey lamb ribs, mint and lime ($17)
Coffee and honey lamb ribs ($17)

Our coffee and honey lamb ribs, mint and lime ($17) were a stack of six, next to a pot of coffee and honey marinade and a grilled half of lime. Thoughtfully, the kitchen had put the marinade off to the side with a wooden kitchen brush for liberal application, dependent on the consumer’s preference. I tasted the individual components before combining them together.

The ribs were succulent and already slicked in a sticky marinade, with the coffee honey sauce dominantly sweet. Coffee beans had been infused in the honey, creating patches of earthy bitterness from the espresso beans. It was a lovely amalgamation of flavours, that worked even better with the meatiness of the lamb ribs. A splash of lime added some zing to the works. The only negative I could pinpoint was the quantity of meat on the ribs – though it fell straight off, as if it had been immaculately braised, there was a sparse amount of meat in proportion to bone and a decent quantity of fat. My friend and I wanted more!

Peruvian potato salad ($9) 
Peruvian potato salad ($9)

Being a potato freak, I ordered a side of Peruvian potato salad ($9) which came with lime & chimichurri. The potatoes were delightfully cooked, half mashed together in big chunks. It was dosed with a light sour cream/mayo-like base, a slight acidity coming from the lime. The herbs and chimichurri added a sharp crunch to the whole dish, cutting through the heaviness of the starchy potatoes. The potatoes themselves were a bit on the salty side, which made it harder to stomach at about the half-way mark. Despite this, it was a decent side and was a good accompaniment to the ribs!

Consulting the menu....
Consulting the menu….

My friend and I were discussing the evolving culture of Perth’s food scene – one of my favourite things about modern dining in our city is the investment of restaurants in tapas, shared plates and usage of local produce. I love the communal feel of sharing food, sampling different dishes and discussing the pros and cons of the shared plates with friends and family. Public House appears to embrace this emerging tradition as eagerly as we were, which was a definite plus.

The spread!
The spread!

The execution of food at Public House was overall at a good standard, though there were some parts of our dishes that weren’t perfect. The food had come out at a cracking pace (almost five minutes after we ordered), but the lack of organisation from entering the building to sitting down outlined either a problematic system or lack of inattentiveness from the staff. There were also a few other people looking around behind us, a touch lost about where to go and what to do. Waiting around to be seated, while there are staff who are folding napkins, wasn’t the best first-hand experience of Public House.

Random Cacti behind us!
Random cacti behind us!

Overall, I would love to try out Public House again, especially to delve further into their extensive menu. I had seen great pictures of their Ecuadorian 70% tart with dulce de leche, and would be very keen to sample it!

Rating: 7 out of 10.
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Address: Shop 2, 263 Adelaide Terrace, East Perth 6004
Website: http://www.publichouseperth.com.au/

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Public House Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Mondays to Fridays (8am to late) and for dinner on Saturday (4pm to late).
  • If you fancy some wine, Public House provides white and red wines from Argentina and Chile, as well as some local South American beers (such as Aguila and Quilmes), spirits, liquors, cocktails and shared pitchers.
  • Pre-theatre dining packages are also available, as Public House is a quick walk from Perth Concert Hall (starting at  $35 a head, including a glass of house wine or beer).
  • Bookings can be made via phone (contact number: 6336 9780) or through Dimmi.

– L.

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