Restaurant Review: Greenhouse

100 St Georges Tc
Perth, WA 6000

greenhouseperth.com
08 9481 8333

I’ve been wanting to go to Greenhouse for aaages, but it’s smack bang in the city, it’s not open on Sunday for brunch and, for whatever reason, it just never happened – until last night. And it turns out Saturday night at that end of town is a good time to go. Parking becomes free, and there is no problem getting a table if you can get there early-ish (tho there did seem to be a line of people waiting later in the evening).

Greenhouse has a pretty interesting list of cocktails, but I was driving so stayed sober with the earl grey lemon iced tea, which was was refreshing, not too sweet, but a little lacking in earl-y grey-ness (oh well). The food is tapas style, and our table of 6 split into 3 vege diners and 3 meat eaters (I was on the meat side, tho to be fair the vege dishes looked very appetising!). My favorite savory dishes were the pizza (of the day) – cherry tomato and the most delicious pancetta, on a thin but dense pizza crsut, and the rabbit pie, which was a delightful filo (?) parcel, filled with slow cooked rabbit, topped a cinnamonn-y flour, and served with labneh. I would have never though to put such varying tastes together, but it worked beautifully, and was so interesting (I love interesting food). The beef belly was the most disappointing dish – last to the table and not really what we were expecting, as it looked more like slow cooked ribs. The meat was very tender and tasty, but the dish lacked the wow factor of other dishes.

However, the highlight of the meal was probably the dish we almost didn’t order – dessert – the cherry and rhubarb bread pudding. It came with it’s own little jar of creme anglais (or similar). We shared between three, and it was just the right amount of dense wholemeal bread and punchy cherry and rhubarb. To be honest, I’d probably return just for the pudding.

Greenhouse is reasonably expensive for the portion sizes you get, but the quality of the food is excellent and it is pretty different to the usual Perth restaurant experience. I’m not sure I loved it, but I’d definitely recommend trying it at least once.

Greenhouse on Urbanspoon

Review: Lunch at Little Stove

Little StoveLittle Stove
08 9319 9811
Melville
Shop 97, 103 Harris St Map
Bicton, WA 6157

Little Stove was an unexpected find in the wilds of Bicton suburbia (well, ok,  I found it through Urbanspoon). The cafe is fairly large, airy and quite funky.  It has two huuuge blackboards, filled with a coffee and tea options, and a pretty interesting looking lunch menu (and a breakfast menu too, I understand,  but I didn’t see that). I wanted to *love* Little Stove because of the atmosphere, but unfortunately, the food was missing a certain wow factor and was also on the expensive side.

Little Stove

My green myrtle tea was refreshing (quite lemongrassy) and scored points on the unusual factor – probably the highlight of what I ordered. However, my latte was average, and my roast vegetable quiche was a bit low on roast veges (and while the egg component was creamy, it was quite bland. pastry was not bad.).

The BF enjoyed his lamb burger (apparently the relish was very good),  but the berry milkshake was all milk and not much berry.  If Little Stove was my local cafe,  I may well be back a lot.  However,  given there are better options in closer to me, I probably won’t…

Little Stove Little Stove

Little Stove on Urbanspoon

Brunch at the Wild Poppy Cafe

Wild Poppy is a lovely, spacious and eclectic cafe outside the heart of Fremantle. Aside from the lovingly mis-matched crockery and decor (check out my teapot – it was ginormous!!), by far the highlight of the brunch was my chorizo omlette. I’m still not sure whether I was pleased or annoyed that it came with a healthy serving of garlic bread – I picked the omlette in part because I thought it would be carb-light. However, there’s no denying that the garlic bread was totally delicious (and yes I did eat it all). The Wild Poppy menu had a number of unusual breakfast selections, including a black rice pudding that my friend raved about, plus more standard eggs and bacon fare. I didn’t try the coffee, but the earl grey tea was good. Prices were fairly standard for Perth (i.e. not cheap), however the quality of the food is very good and I would happily eat at Wild Poppy again. Very much recommended!

Chorizo Omlette at Wild Poppy Cafe Earl Grey at Wild Poppy Cafe

Wild Poppy on Urbanspoon

Review: Toast

I’m a big fan of breakfast. I’ll happily eat breakfast for most meals and, while this technically does include the bowl of cereal the I might eat for dinner on occasion, what I’m really talking about¬† is some variant of eggs, bacon, and bread.

Enter Toast, a delicious accompaniment to eggs and bacon, and a cafe down by Claisebrook Cove that serves all-day breakfast (plus other stuff). Claisebrook Cove is a quietly buzzing location on a Saturday afternoon (thanks mainly to the many patrons at the Royal).  We were there on a lovely sunny day, although it was *seriously* windy Рa table next door lost their umbrella, whilst we almost lost our table number. Toast has a quaint retro feel, with mis-matched chairs and tables, a handwritten menu (plus specials backboard),  and a trio of tubs filled with herbs nestled amongst the tables outside.

Sunrise Juice Corn cakes and bacon

I chose the cheesy scrambled eggs, with tomatoes and toasted rye bread, and didn’t even miss my usual bacon (I had considered ordering it as a side). The eggs were luscious and creamy, though I was expecting the cheese to be more fully incorporated into the eggs, rather than added after scrambling.¬† Thus to me they were scrambled eggs with melted cheese, rather than cheesy scrambled eggs, though they were still delish.¬† The rye toast was dark and savory and the roma tomatoes well roasted/grilled.¬† My dining companions both chose the corn cakes with bacon (made with real corn-off-the-cob) and came with lashings of bacon. Add in a delicious sunrise juice (grapefruit and cranberry), plus a very drinkable latte, and my breakfast was complete!

Details: Toast,  Shop 21 / 60 Royal St East Perth, 6004 (on the waterfront behind Royal Street) Phone: (08) 9221 0771

Service: It’s a cafe – you order and pay at the counter. However, food came out quickly and staff were friendly.

Food: I can think of one or two other places that do a better breakfast around Perth, but Toast’s breakfast was pretty good. Toast also has a wide array of lunch options, as well as muffins and such, however I think I’ll find it hard to leave the breakfast menu to try anything else.

Price: Breakfast mains were about $15 – not cheap but certainly comparable to other Perth establishments. With a coffee and a juice, my brunch came to just over $25.

Conclusion: I would happily eat breakfast at Toast again. In particular I’d be interested in trying the corn cakes *or*  the french toast *or* the crepes (or perhaps something else). Parking wasn’t as painful as when I went to Bradley’s (which is literally next door to Toast), but I did park a little further afar this time.

Rating: 7.5/10

Toast on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Shun Fung on the River

Eh. It was ok.

A bit of context. A group of nine of us met up at Shun Fung for a low key work-related networking dinner at 7.30 on a Saturday night. I booked it. Shung Fung was a hasty second choice (based at least in part by the fact it’s in the entertainment book), after my first choice wasn’t available for such a large group. I was a little apprehensive based on poor reviews I found *after* I booked (see here, here, and here) but decided to leave it to fate (particularly as I wasn’t paying!!) and the evening was fine.

We picked a good variety of mains (including steamed greens, beancurd and mushroom crockpot, ginger chicken, garlic prawns, salt and pepper prawns, honey ribs, and sizzling beef). The restaurant was not very full (I’d say 50% at most), and music was ambient and, both these and the round table we were seated on, enabled everyone to be able to talk/hear everyone else, which lead to a very pleasant group conversation.

Mains ranged from ~$17 for the steamed greens to $35 for the prawn dishes. I thought dessert at a uniform $10 a pop was overpriced, even more so when I saw what we ordered (particularly the deep friend rice balls, which turned out to be 3 bullet shaped nuggets, about 4 cm by 2 cm). Still, to be fair, Chinese restaurants are not normally known for their desserts. We were probably asking for it…

All in all, Shun Fung was an ok experience, although nothing about it would particularly tempt me back to try again – there’s better Chinese to be had in Perth.

Details: Shun Fung On the River Chinese Seafood Restaurant, Old Perth Port, Barrack Square Jetty, Perth 6000 WA. Phone: (08) 9221 1868

Service: For some reason, a table of 12 was only allowed to have 2 menus!! (plus the drinks menu). Having thought about it, perhaps this was an artefact: the first couple to arrive were given menus, and then couples who arrived later were not given them, rather than a general sharing-of-menus policy. Still it was a oversight on the restaurant’s part. Service was generally on the slow side (although not to the point of annoying us). They did stagger the arrival of new mains quite well, but they brought the wrong wine when we asked for a second bottle of red, and we had to remind them a few times about the bill.

Food: It was fine. It was nice! It wasn’t *fantastic*. The menu is heavily seafood based, and the best dish ordered was probably the salt and paper prawns. I was a bit worried about vegetarian options, but there were sufficient variety and, actually, the braised tofu and mushroom claypot was also very good (i heart tofu).

Mark-up: The table chose the Madfish Premium White ($37.50), and the Miles to Nowhere Cabernet Merlot ($39.50). I didn’t note the vintage dates on these, but these wines appear to be avaiable for $13$16 and $15$20 respectively. Let’s say there’s an average of 140% mark up – one of the largest mark ups on any restaurant reviewed to date.

The Discount: Shun Fung is in the Entertainment Book, offering 25% off up to $35. The total bill for 9 people was $429.20 ($394.20 with the discount), consisting of ~$125 for drinks, $230 for 9 shared mains and rice, and $75 for jasmine tea and 6 desserts. (I think it would have been better value had we skipped dessert).

Conclusion: Barrack Street Jetty has a lovely view and I’m sure this forms part of the cost, but to be honest, you can’t see that much of the view from inside the restaurant. There is a balcony, but inclement weather on the day we were there meant nobody was seated outside. We had a good meal, but the night was probably made by the company rather than the restaurant. I’m sure many other chinese restaurants around Perth could have also provided reasonable chinese food and a round table to share it from (and possibly at a cheaper price).

Rating: 5/10

Shung Fung on the River on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Balthazar

Should I feel… outmoded? unfashionable? just plain out of touch? Cos, seriously, up until a couple of months ago, I had never ever heard of Balthazar. Yet, several internet lists rate Balthazar as one of the top restaurants in Perth [1], and it’s apparently been open for ten years or more [2]. So, somewhat intrigued (and after finding that Star Anise was all booked out for the night) we forayed there for my dining partner’s (MDP’s) birthday, even though it wasn’t even in the Entertainment Book!

I’d read in several reviews that the lighting in Balthazar is fairly low and it is quite dim – possibly bordering on hazardous, but pleasant all the same. Likewise, the music was pretty loud for what one would expect in a higher class restaurant. However, while ‘loud and dim’ doesn’t sound particularly appealing, the overall feel was intimate and lively (and the music was good). Service was very attentive to start with; water in our glasses was continually refreshed and we received our wine and shared starter (a tasting plate of *most* *excellent* carrot soup, a fine duck roll, a -meh- smoked wagyu carpaccio on cracker[3] and a *very* *good* fried goat’s cheese ball) in quick succession. However the wait between removal of the entree plate and the arrival of the main course was long, long enough for MDP to start one of his favorite activities – using his phone’s stopwatch to see how long we would be waiting for attention. Altogether it was a good 30 minutes plus before the mains arrived. When they did, my rabbit leg was impressively de-boned and rolled, but lacking zing. The accompanying leek risotto was fantastic, however. MDP’s venison (the bit he gave to me anyway) was tender and full flavoured, though apparently it was difficult to cut.

We were undecided about dessert (particularly given we had truffle cake at home already), but they *just* managed to make it from clearing our main plates to asking us if we wanted to see the dessert menu in the 15 minutes we’d given them and I was kind of interested in the item in french in which I could only understand the words ‘cheese’ and ‘beetroot’ and so we ordered one of those to share.

What arrived was five beetroot slices/crisps, fried or baked, each filled with a blob of a sweet cheesecake-like filling. While probably creamcheese-based it also had hint of blue cheese, which gave it a *fantastic* edge. Combined with the walnut and beetroot garnishes, the dessert was impressive, but marred by the chewiness of the beetroot crisps (i.e. they weren’t crisp). If the crisps has been crisp, the dessert would have become a stand out in my memory. As it is, I’ll always remember it with a tinge of regret.

Details: Balthazar, 6 The Esplanade, Perth 6000 WA. Phone: (08) 9421 1206 (Colour me crazy, but I’m not at all sure they actually have a website!)

Service: There were lots of wait staff and service was good to start with. The long wait for our main course marred the experience though.

Food: Overall, excellent food and you could tell that quality produce had been used. However, servings were on the small side and I do feel that, after a two course meal (three courses, with entree and dessert shared), I shouldn’t come home and feel the need (want?) for two pieces of toast. Some aspects of our meal bordered on sublime (some parts of the entree and the dessert), the rest (mains included) were solid but ultimately unmemorable.

Mark-up: MDP chose the Agly Brothers Cote du Roussillon 2004 (shiraz, carignan, grenache) and was rewarded with a most excellent drop. We paid $64 for a bottle that might retail for $39 (it seems difficult to buy, a real pity), making it about a 64% mark up, which actually seems pretty reasonable.

Conclusion: A good meal, but not a great one. I can’t help feeling that now we’ve ‘done’ Balthazar, we probably won’t feel the need to return. Anyone who can get us a couple of bottle of the Agly Brothers, however, should get in touch!!

Rating: 8/10

Balthazar on Urbanspoon

[1] Though, courtesy of Palace Foods, it ain’t in the most recent top 10 for Perth from Gourmet Traveller.

[2] In my defence, 10 years ago I was still an underpaid PhD student, and unlikely to be forking out more than $20-30 for a dinner out, if I could help it. (And after finishing I went AWOL O/S for 4 years too).

[3] I think an unsmoked fresh carpaccio would have been better

Review: High Tea at Salt on the Beach

My best friend (GJ) and I were hankering for high tea. The Hyatt is known to be good, but was booked for the day we wanted to go (today). I’ve had a very nice Parisian Rose Tea at Leaf, in Mt Lawley, but we’d been there before and we wanted somewhere new! There don’t seem to be a heap of other high tea places in Perth, but in the end a google search brought us to Salt on the Beach, which has been serving high tea since May [1].

Salt on the Beach is in a lovely location on Port Beach in North Freo – though probably more-so in summer than on a fairly blustery winter’s (technically spring) day. I was very glad to be seated inside the main dining room rather than on the veranda, even though we saw less of the view that way.

Arriving at 2.30 pm was a interesting time to be in the restaurant. There were a few tables still lingering over lunch, but not much business for high tea (probably not a good sign, right?). In the end, the total high tea clientele consisted of a large (birthday?) function in a separate room, plus a table of five and our table of two. The advertising kind of implied we’d each receive our own three tiered tray filled with goodies, but we ended up with a tray to share with:

(bottom and largest tier)

chicken and avocado sandwich (4 triangles)

ham cheese, tomato and pickle sandwich (4 little squares)

tuna sandwich (4 triangles)

2 slices of a smoked salmon quiche/tart

salad leaves and a slice of cucumber (for decoration?)

(middle tier)

custard filled profiteroles (2x)

Scones with jam and cream (2x – excellent strawberry jam)

blueberry/raspberry friand (cut in 2)

(top tier)

mini brownie (2x)

mini custard tart (2x)

(NB: My bad totally for forgetting – or perhaps more accurately not thinking about – the fact tha GJ is vegetarian! Fortunately she eats fish so some of the bottom level was ok for, but there was nothing strictly vego there)

The tea selection wasn’t huge – off the top of my head there was green, black, english breakfast, earl grey, chai, chamomile and peppermint. I went for the earl grey because it’s my favourite, but to be honest I am really not sure that’s what I got. It tasted just like normal tea, and pretty average normal tea at that. GJ wanted a coffee, but unfortunately this couldn’t be included in the price of the high tea ($24) and so she had to order it as an extra. We had a lovely afternoon chatting over our tea, but I’m not sure how much the experience was augmented by Salt on the Beach’s high tea. Our search for Perth’s best high tea is far from over!

Details: Salt on the Beach, 44 Port Beach Rd (Corner Tydeman) North Fremantle WA 6159, 9430 6866

Service: Service was fine and the staff were friendly, but it doesn’t take long to take an order for a couple of pots of tea and bring out a tiered tray of treats. We actually stayed at Salt on the Beach for about 3 hours – far longer than our afternoon tea actually lasted and not one waiter asked how we were going during that whole time!

Food: The food we got was very nice, but I think high tea should feel lavish, excessive even, and we really didn’t come out feeling like we’d treated ourselves particularly. The clincher for me was the fact that only one pot of tea was included (and the milk was pretty skimpy too), and when GJ wanted a coffee instead of tea she had to pay for that on top! Tea is not so expensive that you couldn’t consider serving up multiple pots – or at least topping up the pot with extra hot water.

The discount: Salt on the Beach actually is in the Entertainment Book, but we couldn’t use the gold card to get a discount on high tea (which was $24 pp). And $50 still feels a lot for some sandwiches and little cakes. I won’t be coming back for high tea here, and I don’t feel particularly inclined to come back to try a dinner or lunch. The nanobrewery looks kind of interesting, but I’ll probably be looking for some online reviews before venturing out there.

Rating: 5/10

Salt on the Beach on Urbanspoon

[1] Incidentally, the other places I’ve found (or know of) were C Restaurant (which I discounted based on my previous dining experience), and Palais 85 in South Perth, which is still a bit of an unknown quantity. Any other suggestions are most welcome!!!