Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mrs S, Maylands

Mrs S Maylands review
Come, my children, come away,
For the sun shines bright today.
Little children, come with me,
Birds and brooks and posies see.
Get your hats, and come away,
For it is a pleasant day.

- Excerpt taken from Mother Goose children’s book, used as a menu holder at Mrs S - though I could imagine it coming from Mrs S herself as she lures you out of your house, into the sunshine and into her shop of goodies and home-cooked-style meals.  Today is a pleasant day.

So out on Whatley Crescent, around the café part of Maylands and very close to the train station, Mrs S has appeared with its pleasant approach to breakfasts and brunches – and it shows, just by how busy it gets.  The café itself isn’t very big, typical of many similar cafes, but makes good use of the space inside with small (and some joinable) tables surrounding a central communal table that can seat a large group or multiple groups.  Even still, getting a seat can be a tall task during peak times.

Whilst Mrs S is a breakfast/lunch café, what sets Mrs S apart is the décor and food (see below).  Mrs S has an almost quirky yet homely feel, with details such as menus pegged to children’s books and old (nearly country style) bits n bobs [Blue Apocalypse lovingly describes the details in her blog here].  They also sell a small but unique collection of goods such as cool British printed wrapping paper.

On to the food, Mrs S’s menu is quite modest but understandably so given the size of the place.  Quality not quantity?  The breakfast menu goes from light meals through to a “big breakfast”; whilst the lunch menu includes salads, a tart, and sandwiches.  Then during both seatings there is a selection of sweets, as well as juices, tea and coffee.

Granny June’s cornbread - $16 (breakfast)

Two slices of cornbread was the basis for this sweet and savoury breakfast.  The cornbread had a texture a bit like dry banana bread (with bits of corn kernels throughout), a corn-yellow colour, and looked like it was sliced from a loaf.  Being the first time I’ve had cornbread, it seemed well balanced in terms of its sweetness and the level of corn taste.

For its mild sweet taste, the cornbread felt hearty though by itself it did seem a little dry (cue the maple syrup which made this much better).  My only issue with the cornbread was I found eating both slices of sweet corn bread to be a bit much for breakfast but this is most likely because I don’t eat a lot of corn by personal choice.    Bring on the eggs on toast or even the heavy sweet pancakes.

I may have taken too long with photos that the egg yolk cooked a little more than I like it

Completing the cornbread, add some bacon and poached eggs and you get this good mix of sweet and savoury in this dish that strangely works as well as some much desirable protein that made the whole dish seem more filling to me.  However the bacon wasn’t crunchy if you’re into that.

Croque monsieur - $8.50 (breakfast & lunch)

This croque monsieur was a simple sandwich, but a really good one at that.

It was a grilled sandwich of ham, cheese and mustard.  I’ve had various croque monsieurs before, including ones that are very rich and those with multiple layers.  The Mrs S one seems quite simple but well balanced in the way it is compiled and the mustard is great in it.

Manwich - $15 (lunch)

This “manwich” wasn’t filled with huge lashings of meat like a half kilo steak sandwich *grunt*.  But hey, we’re at a cute little café filled with home-made goodness.

The manwich was described as “pulled pork, beetroot pickle, cucumber, rocket in ciabatta bread.”

The crusty ciabatta bread was buttered and lightly toasted till it was even crustier.  This was then filled with seasoned pulled pork that was meltingly tender as well as the very noticeable sweet-and-sour beetroot pickle.

If there is one concern about this manwich, it would be that you have to take care with the grated beetroot.  Even when trying to be careful, the beetroot left marks on the plate that looked like I may have hunted down the pig that went into my sandwich.  Poor pig, happy me.

Poached chicken, pineapple, herb salad with nam jim - $16.50 (lunch)

I wouldn’t typically order just a salad as a meal.  However, this salad was good.

The salad had an Asian theme to it with bean sprouts, Asian herbs like coriander, and a nicely balanced nam jim with noteable sweetness, sourness, saltiness and spiciness all wrapped up neatly into a well matched salad dressing.  The combined flavours of the herbs and the dressing gave it a lot of oomph.  Add the tender and moist poached chicken and this salad was delicious.

Caramelised onion tart - $15

The tart itself was made with caramelised onion, slow roasted tomato and goats curd.

When I read the word “tart”, I thought this would look like a quiche.  What came out was a tart that had a base of layers of light and flaky puff pastry, filled with the caramelised onion, slow roasted tomato and goats curd (a bit like cheese and tomato but more gourmet and with better flavours).  The way the tart was constructed gave it a relatively light feel and the elements of each the pastry, onion tomato, and goats curd each complimented the whole tart whilst each of their flavours and textures were brought out.

The tart was accompanied with a rocket and herb salad that was dressed with olive oil.

Lumberjack cake - $6

I don’t know why this cake was originally called lumberjack cake however the key elements of date, apple and coconut all went together well.

This cake was rich and moist, with a great level of sugar combined with the sweet dates, apple and the coconut infused icing on top.  All up, a delicious cake and the serving size was also generous compared to many other cafes out there.

Cappuccino - $3.50

Not many places around Perth make such a pleasant coffee.  It’s not exactly strong or fancy.  However, it’s very smooth and creamy (using Bannister Downs milk I believe) and a coffee to remember.

Café Latte - $3.50

Another well-made, creamy coffee.

We liked: A simple yet well executed menu for a casual café; the food isn’t boring and some dishes have a hearty feel; food that we (everyone I have been with so far) agree is amongst the best for its type; an almost quirky homely feel to the experience; great and creamy coffees; great service.

We didn’t like: Mrs S possibly didn’t realise they would be so popular – they probably could have easily done with a place twice the size.

Other things to note: Mrs S can get very busy, especially on weekends - if you don’t get there early you may need to wait for a seat, even if it’s at the communal table in the middle.

Mrs S
178 Whatley Crescent
Maylands WA 6051
(08) 9271 6690

Trading Hours
Tuesday to Sunday - Breakfast and Lunch
Mrs. S on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

West End Deli, West Perth

West End Deli reviews; West End Deli West Perth reviews and blogs
Crispy bacon and runny-yolk eggs, fluffy pancakes with berries and thickly sweet maple syrup, juicy sausages and crunchy golden hash browns...  Breakfast can bring so much joy to start the day.  But what about something a little different, perhaps a little gourmet for breakfast?  Pork belly with calvados apples?  Brioche with creamed spinach and slow cooked egg dressed with tobiko dressing?  What about smoked quail with foie gras terrine?

Taking an approach that blends gourmet dishes with staple breakfast offerings in a brunch menu is one thing that sets West End Deli from many other brunch cafes.  And head chef Justin Peters has a good CV having worked in Melbourne restaurants as well as previously being head chef of some Perth restaurants (Duende, Il Lido, and Verve) that gives further credibility to the dishes created.

West End Deli is situated in West Perth (the part that is close to Leederville) at a renovated retail site with a long history.  The historical feel is enhanced by small warm and fuzzy touches (such as old mechanical tills and scales, and post-federation electrical details) set amongst the modern warehouse-industrial feel complete with an open kitchen.  The result gives West End Deli character in what looks like a modern café/deli that oddly yet successfully integrates new and old.

The brunch menu is quite diverse for a café/deli and includes your staple eggs on toast (or try baguette for a change) and a wholemeal version of pancakes that is meant to come with “streaky bacon”, through to main course size meals including a steak sandwich, pork belly, spaghettini, salads and pies.  Given the not-so-large size of the cafe, it seems like quite a decent varied selection to cater for a mixed crowd, with even some (light) options for vegetarians.

Pork belly, pearl barley, calvados apples and crackle - $26

The pork belly was melt-in-your-mouth tender, like it had been slow cooked such that when I cut into the pork the meat tore at the grain effortlessly.  Crackle-wise, there was only a very light crackle (which was ok considering the pork was so tender) and a nice subtle sweet flavour that made it taste good on its own.

Add the pearl barley with a nice mildly sweet jus this dish had just the right amount of sweetness to complement the pork without over or under doing it.  Then there were the diced bits of calvados (brandy) apples – these were like sweet apple jellies that I enjoyed so much that I could have eaten them by themselves.

Though all up the pork serving wasn't huge, and the meat portion was quite small when you consider the amount of fat in pork belly, the overall flavours of the tender pork mixed in with the various sweet elements made this a pretty good pork belly dish.

Smoked ocean trout, brioche, creamed spinach, slow cooked egg and tobiko dressing - $24

This dish was like an ordinary breakfast dish gone gourmet and it tasted as good as it sounded on the menu.  However, again the dish alone didn’t seem like a large breakfast or lunch especially for someone who is used to "big breakfasts".

The brioche had a crust that had a light crunch, a light buttery and crumbly centre and overall a nice base to start the dish as opposed to commonly used bread.  The brioche was topped with a thin layer of creamed spinach, and a slow cooked egg that was delicate and almost “gooey” compared to a poached egg.  The lighter texture and flavour associated with the slow cooked egg made it great with all the other elements on the plate (rather than say bacon with toast).

On the other side of the plate was the smoked ocean trout (or house smoked salmon in some guises) with what seemed like cream cheese.  The tobiko (or flying fish roe) and black sesame dressing around the plate completed the dish and overall I felt this was a delicious gourmet style breakfast.

Steak and mushroom pie with side salad - $6 (pie) plus $3 (salad)

This pies were located in the fridge border the kitchen and the main dining area.  The choices on offer at the time were a steak and mushroom pie and a pork pie.  The steak and mushroom pie was made with a nice flaky pastry that was golden and buttery.  The pastry flakes on top had a nice flaky crunch to them.

Inside the pie were chunks of steak and mushrooms (real chunks as opposed to minced who-knows-what), in a well-proportioned stock-gravy.  The pie tasted wholesome and thankfully seasoned well (i.e. in moderation and not salty).  A sweet chilli sauce was provided as a condiment.

The optional salad was a fresh assortment of salad leaves dressed with a sweet dressing.

You can also buy the pies as take-away (or maybe even a baguette for $4.50 or some cake?).  I’m not a huge fan of pies, but I might have to get one of those baguettes next time.

Black bean cassoulet, pork, chorizo, and sour cream - $8

This cassoulet of what seemed like a generous amount of black beans (i.e. it was a sharing sized amount for someone who isn’t too keen on beans like me) was made with the addition of small pieces of pork and chorizo, and topped with sour cream.

The beans were cooked till they soft enough so they were nearly effortless to chew whilst still being firm, and the combined dish was well seasoned and seemed a tad on the creamy side when mixed through.

Lemon tart - $6

The “co-op inspired” lemon tart started off with a thin shortcrust pastry.  It was filled with a rich, smooth and tangy lemon filling that was a blend between sweetness and lemon tang, but definitely more on the strong lemon tang side.  If you like lemon tarts, this one says simple yet flavour-bursting lemon tart.

Lemon, thyme, pine nut torte - $6.50

This torte was a heavy, buttery, and crumbly torte.  The flavour from each of the elements in the name were subtle – the lemon being very mild, the thyme sparingly sprinkled on top, and the pine nut also taking a light flavour addition to this torte.

Whilst the cake didn’t seem to give big flavour or sweet kicks in my mouth, it would be suited to those after a milder tea-type cake or subtler than a lemon tart or chocolate velvet or beetroot and chocolate cake.  I guess I have a sweet tooth.

Cappuccino - $3.80

The cappuccino was pretty good.  The milky and mild-strength coffee was made with a bitter blend of beans (Vittoria I believe) that in the cappuccino made a decent cappuccino.

We liked: A good diverse range of food on the menu considering the size of the establishment; a gourmet approach to the food, offering restaurant style dishes with enjoyable flavours and textures; the previous point most likely due to an experienced chef being in charge (for a welcome change).

We didn’t like: The concrete and hard surface surrounds, whilst looking good, reflects noise so when busy it can get noisy, and seated a couple of tables from a large speaker made it more difficult to chat at the table without many "sorry, say that again"'s; not so much a gripe, at least not yet, but I sure hope that this place is cool in summer – the “air conditioners” on the wall that I could see looked a little worse for wear.

Other things to note: The prices vary a bit - some dishes are on the high-side for breakfast prices but the dishes are restaurant grade which would explain it; there is a brunch menu, and a separate dinner menu; during the lunch service they ran out of a couple of dishes though pointed this out quickly; gets busy at peak times – you can only make bookings from 11:30am onwards; if you’re vegetarian, brunch options include pancakes, baguette, porridge, and at least one other “main course” style vegetarian dish.

West End Deli
95 Carr Street
West Perth WA 6005
(08) 9328 3605

Trading Hours
Monday to Wednesday - 7am to 3pm
Thursday to Saturday - 7am till late
Sundays - 7am to 3pm

West End Deli on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Nobu Perth, Burswood

Nobu Perth reviews; Nobu Japanese restaurant Perth reviews; Nobu Burswood casino
If you haven’t already noticed, I find great satisfaction in seeking out great new restaurants in Perth.  In particular, I can never say no to a great new Japanese restaurant, and especially one that has a lot of steam behind it.

After many years expanding around the world, the Nobu chain of restaurants (which has joint owners including executive chef Nobu Matsuhisa and actor Robert De Niro) has just opened its 25th restaurant here at Burswood Entertainment Complex/Casino in good ol’ Perth.  Good news indeed, I was even happier that I managed to get a table for its booked out opening night.  So new is Nobu, many Nobu chefs from around the world have been in Perth to help bring Nobu up to the global standard expected of it.  Pity I didn’t see Matsuhisa-san himself, but I hear he and De Niro may be making it here in person over the next few weeks - exciting!

Stepping into Nobu, you are greeted by the first Nobu waiter who sees you with a welcoming and "irrashaimase" (meaning "welcome" in Japanese) followed by a chorus of waiters repeating a very audible "irrashaimase".  You talkin' to me?  You talkin' to me? Nobu Perth is smaller than its Australian sibling Nobu Melbourne, however equally as impressively decked out with a warm ambience and nice contemporary touches including a lighting decoration that looks a bit like christmas ornaments, and modern bamboo-like partitions.  This was furthered by modern music being played more reminiscent of a groovy bar than a traditional Japanese restaurant, but at a mild audible level that seemed to help it blend in.

If you haven’t dined at Nobu before, the waiter explains that Nobu isn’t just a Japanese restaurant  - it’s a fusion Japanese restaurant with South American influences with a menu designed for you to order multiple dishes to share with everyone on the table (a concept like izakaya or tapas).  It’s also designed such that you start at the beginning of the menu and order dishes to be served in line with the menu order.  The menu starts with cold dishes such as raw fish and salads, goes onto hot dishes including cooked meats and seafood as well as tempura, then sushi, and finally soup.  That’s until you finish your mains and head to the dessert menu.

Service-wise, the main waiter we had was very attentive and knowledgeable about the menu and as the various staff were quite varied and only one waitperson who served us appeared to be Japanese (which further helped give the restaurant a more modern and hip fusion feel) I thought they had varying levels of confidence.  However, apart from a couple of mistakes (the next table's order accidentally coming to our table on two occasions) I thought the service was as a whole pretty good for an opening night and food and service was served reasonably timely, keeping in with the theme of being served most share dishes one at a time.

Edamame - $7

This generous serve of edamame was lightly salted and, for those who like it, a good appetiser.  Edamame is a bit like a pea where you only eat the beans inside.  The beans are green pea like beans that are relatively light in flavour.

Yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno - $26

This specialty cold dish consisted of nicely laid out slices of yellowtail fish, each garnished with a thin slice of jalapeno, and served with yuzu.

The fresh yellowtail fish was firm and fresh; combined with the spicy jalapeno (that was hot but being sliced thinly wasn’t too fiery), the acidic yuzu, and the light parsley-like garnish, the dish was a nice combination to start that brought out the flavour and texture of the yellowtail and previewed the South American influences in the food.

 White fish (scallop) tiradito - $20

A well-presented dish of thinly sliced scallop surrounded by even thinner sliced cucumber was served in Nobu’s own version of a South American tiradito.

The tastes were a combination of a light spicy pepper sauce, as well as an acidic base mixed into the subtle scallop and extra thinly sliced cucumber to provide yet another light cold seafood dish that enhanced the freshness of the scallops.

Shiitake salad - $14

This salad of mainly gourmet lettuce and mizuna leaves was dressed with a lemon dressing and garnished with dried garlic chips and sesame seeds, as well as shiitake mushrooms.

The shiitake mushrooms, being the highlight and headliner of the salad, were small tender mushrooms that had a soft texture that were almost as soft as tofu to chew.  Tastewise, the shiitake mushrooms seemed fresh backed up with a mild shiitake taste.  The bonus is shiitake mushrooms are good for you!

The remaining leafy salad seemed relatively simple in terms of flavour but nonetheless it was well made and a good salad.

Black cod miso - $46

Perhaps my highlight for the night was this black cod with miso signature dish.

The black cod was cooked perfectly – only just cooked so the fish was super-tender, and cut through effortlessly whilst still being firm.  Underneath the black cod was the black cod’s skin which was black in colour and carried some of the dish’s flavour through along with a light charcoal taste.

The miso based sauce that the black cod was cooked in was sweet and thick, almost like a perfect blend of miso with soy and sweetness and similar to that used to poach salmon by some of the better Japanese restaurants.  I really enjoyed the miso component that perfectly complemented the black cod.

The black cod was also served with a thinly sliced lotus root chip, a cylinder of pickled ginger that brought a good contrasting flavour to the otherwise sweetness of the dish, and a further sweet sauce that tasted like a light sweet plum sauce.

Scallops with wasabi pepper - $24

The scallops were grilled so that they were rare on the inside - making them tender and moist on the inside, yet on the outside they were cooked enough so that they were firm.  Mixed in with the scallops were a decent serve of very thin young asparagus and sliced shiitaki mushrooms.

The sauce was exactly as its name suggested – wasabi pepper – a savoury sauce with a good wasabi taste but yet mild on spiciness.

This dish was also served with a bowl of rice.

Beef toban-yaki - $32

This beef dish was served sizzling hot in a clay dish (that looked a bit like a tagine), and as the waiter served it, he slowly removed the lid revealing the still boiling sauce that continued to bubble away for about a minute.

The beef in this dish was cooked rare with the outer layers seared through but with the larger inner parts still red (without oozing blood) making it tender for beef that isn’t a very marbelised cut of beef.  This made the beef dish tender and just nice.

The beef was served on caramelised onions with a shiitake mushroom, enoki mushrooms, asparagus, and a light savoury sauce that made the beef well flavoured and enjoyable to eat.

Slow braised pork belly (wood oven) - $27

The pork belly was cooked so that it pretty much melted as you cut and bit into it – a great way to have pork belly.  However, the skin was largely removed giving away any hopes of a crackling (I really need to stop that obsession) though there was a very slight crunch on the top.

The pork belly was served with a sweet sauce as well as a not-so-spicy jalapeno salsa.

House special maki sushi roll - $20

This sushi roll was filled with a combination of salmon, tuna, a white fish, flying fish roe (tobiko), and avocado.  On the outside, the sushi roll was wrapped with a layer of what seemed like daikon (a white radish).

The sushi itself was well made, held together quite well, and the proportions of ingredients meant you could taste each ingredient without having a massive wrist sized sushi roll.  The outer layer added a crunch but was very mild in flavour (i.e. had no strong radish or daikon tastes which could have overpowered the sushi).

The sushi was served with fresh wasabi (I say fresh as it was grainy as I expect horseradish to be), and pickled ginger.

Bento box with green tea ice cream and goma tuille - $15

This mini dessert bento box (which comes highly recommended) has a warm chocolate cake with a gooey chocolate centre (a lot like a chocolate fondant).  The rich chocolate cake, when you cut into it, reveals a generous gooey chocolate which combined gives a good chocolate fix without overdoing it.  Not so Japanese, but still very good.

The green tea ice cream, which was served on top of a crisp goma tuille, was very smooth for a green tea ice cream.  It also didn’t have any green tea bitterness and contained a good level of sweetness that complemented the chocolate cake.

Overall, this dessert was a very nice, smooth and creamy green tea ice cream excellently matched to a gooey chocolate cake dessert.

Miso Cappuccino - $15

This dessert came served in a deceptive coffee cup - deceptive as it almost looked like a cappuccino with over-anxious froth that had the look and glaze of a creamy set mousse.

Inside this dessert were layers of coffee cream and crumble with a coffee flavour, vanilla ice cream, and the topping of the cappuccino “froth”.

The textures in this dessert helped it from being a boring dessert, from crunchy to smooth and creamy.  It also provided a mild sweet coffee hit – though not enough to rival a real coffee beverage.

We liked:  The food is excellently prepared and there are some very well-conceived dishes with an unsurprising emphasis on seafood; the service is generally friendly, helpful, and well trained (even for the official opening night); fusion Japanese/South American at its best.

We didn’t like: Although the restaurant has been nicely furnished, it provides for a bit of noise to carry in the restaurant; an opening night photographer who felt compelled to try and make everyone epileptic (though I’m sure this isn’t Nobu’s fault).

Other things to note: The menu has a lot of seafood options, however contains a very healthy selection of meat options as well as a few vegetarian options (including tofu); unless you chose the degustation menu, expect to order multiple dishes to share with your dining companions; book ahead.

Nobu Perth
Burswood Entertainment Complex
Great Eastern Highway
(08) 9362 7551

Trading Hours
Lunch and Dinner - Daily

Nobu Perth on Urbanspoon