Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Metrio & Co, North Perth

Perth's weather is continuing to warm up and as the sunshine comes out, a lot of bacon gets a grilling.  Who doesn't like a nice cooked breakfast out when the sun is shining?

Today we head to Metrio & Co, a neat but unassuming cafe to catch up for a casual breakfast or coffee.  Metrio & Co is situated smack bang in the middle of the Angove Street cafe strip, with casual seating inside as well as some al fresco seating on the main strip.  Between exposed brick walls, artwork, and modern decor it's not a bad brunch cafe and (for me) does some good food.

The menu, which is written up on a blackboard on the wall, works through a few breakfast staples including an Aussie breakfast option (bacon, eggs, sausage), through to eggs (eg florentine) and mushroom selections, as well as some more basic selections.  Otherwise, apart from the usual suspects with a few variations, the menu isn't very extensive but from what I've had so far at least the food quality has been good.  However supplementing the menu is a range of sandwiches and wraps and quiches in the fridge, as well as some cakes.

Eggs Florentine - $15

The eggs florentine was pretty standard fare as far as eggs florentine is concerned.

Of the two eggs in the eggs florentine one was cooked perfectly with a completely runny centre, whilst the other was a tad over the perfect (for me) mark with the edges of the yolk solid but most of the yolk still runny.  Perhaps a slight slip up, but the eggs were runny enough to soak into and be scooped up by the crusty bread.

The hollandaise sauce was creamy with a consistency like creamy mayonnaise and had a nice acidity running through it giving the dish a great flavour and tangy-ness.  Completing the eggs florentine was lightly cooked spinach.

In a side dish was a tomato salsa.  The salsa itself seemed ok with chunks of tomatoes and onion, and a tangy and slightly sweet flavour, but I didn't feel it really added to the flavours of the eggs florentine for me.

Field Mushrooms - $16

This dish "field mushrooms" kept a couple of field mushrooms as the centre of the dish.  The perfectly cooked (firm, yet tender) mushrooms were placed on top of some thick toast and cooked spinach, and topped with feta and rocket.  Served with creamed balsamic on the base of the plate, the sweet, acidic and salty flavours blended together to make this vegetarian dish quite delicious.

On the side, the familiar tomato salsa added colour to the dish though again didn't add anything for me.


This immaculate looking cappuccino was smooth and a good strength.  The cappuccino wasn't quite as creamy as some other great cappuccinos out there but otherwise I had no complaints.

We liked: The food is up to scratch; nice seating arrangements including al fresco in the busy cafe strip

We didn't like: The menu isn't extensive, but is supplemented by items in the display fridge - you should still find something to suit

Other things to note: There's perhaps nothing that really stands out for me at Metrio & Co above other brunch places, but they do a decent job for what they have
Metrio & Co
36-38 Angove Street
(08) 9227 0077

Trading Hours
7 days - breakfast and lunch

Metrio & Co on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Eki Bento, Maylands

I remember back in my younger school days my Mum would pack my lunchbox daily usually filled with a  sandwich and fruit.  I also remember other kids used to get an assortment of tasty treats in their lunchboxes like cake and chocolate, things I never got no matter how much I asked - but I digress.  Anyway speaking of lunchboxes, the Japanese have this neat concept of bento boxes or wooden boxes (often with compartments) used to serve a meal - often at lunch but you can get them for dinner too.

Eki Bento (or Train Station Bento Box) is neatly located on the Whatley Crescent cafe strip in Maylands across from the train station.  I had seen this Japanese restaurant as I had walked by when I was having breakfast at the nearby cafes and told myself I had to give it a try.  Eventually one night I caught up with a friend who likes Japanese food and we decided to head over to Eki Bento.

Eki Bento is a relatively new Japanese restaurant that is set up with some almost quirky Japanese decorations giving it a casual Japanese feel.  Inside, there are wooden chairs and tables that provide ample seating when it doesn't get too busy.

After sitting down and receiving the menu you immediately notice the "Bento" on offer with quite a few Japanese favourites served either in those bento boxes or separately including teriyaki, katsu, sushi and sashimi.  However, tucked in amongst the largely Japanese menu are a few Korean dishes - mainly bibimbaps (rice bowl meals).  Rounding off the menu, there are a few entrees such as dumplings (gyoza) and octopus balls (takoyaki), and desserts such as green tea ice cream.

Fish Teriyaki Bento - $16.90

The fish teriyaki bento started off with a fish fillet on top of a bed of rice.  The fish, being a smooth and firm fish with a texture a bit like fish used in fish n chips, was lightly dusted and shallow fried.  It was then drenched in a teriyaki sauce, with a soy flavour that was slightly sweetened, thick and a tad sticky on the fish.  the sauce made its way through the fish and onto the rice to keep it tasting like teriyaki throughout.

Served in the fish teriyaki bento was a range of side dishes - though each of the main courses appeared to come with similar sides.  On the tray with the teriyaki fish was a salad, with garden salad type lettuce leaves, tomato and cabbage dressed in a sweetened and a little grainy (giving it texture) vinaigrette.  Also on the tray were pickled ginger and wasabi.

On a second tray that was neatly laid beside the main course tray was a pork gyoza with lightly seasoned pork mince mixture inside a thin pastry, half a panko-crumbed potato croquette with a smooth potato mixture inside (on its way to being a mash), and a panko-crumbed prawn.  All were deep fried, with the panko-crumbed katsu style potato and prawn being crunchy on the outside and drizzled with that sweet barbecue and Worcestershire sauce-like katsu sauce

Also on this tray was a piece of katsu prawn sushi, a piece of chicken sushi, and a prawn nigiri style sushi.  Despite being nothing special or of particular note, all the sushi were well made, held together well and tasted relatively fresh.  Finishing off this tray was a fruit salad, with a few slices of banana oddly left in its skin (perhaps for presentation), not-completely-ripe honeydew, and a wedge of orange.

Chicken Katsu Bento - $17.90

This katsu chicken bento was a little more like a "katsudon" type of meal.  The crumbed chicken katsu featured in this dish, but it had been further cooked with omelette and a soy based sauce.  Notably lacking (due to the cooking process) was a crispy crumbed katsu, but instead this was replaced with tender chicken more flavoursome than any normal katsu chicken that I usually get.  The chicken had been heavily infused with the sauce with its slightly sweetened but otherwise strong soy flavour.

Though I'm not sure that I would really consider this what I normally expect for a katsu chicken, it was a very tasty katsudon style chicken dish.

Similar sides were served with this main course dish.

The tea was made with a real tea mixture (as opposed to powder) and served in some nice Japanese decor.

We liked: Great infused flavours in the bento boxes for this level of Japanese food (i.e. casual).

We didn't like: A few oddities in the menu - namely katsu chicken bento coming out more like katsudon (but it was tasty nonetheless)

Other things to note: Though mainly Japanese, there are some Korean dishes on offer; specialises in relatively quick bento box meals and sushi/sashimi; there are cheaper and lighter lunch bento options available; dine in or takeaway

Eki Bento
180 Whatley Crescent
(08) 6161 6573

Trading Hours
7 days - 11am to 9pm

Eki Bento on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Classroom, North Perth

In touch with the ground
I'm on the hunt down I'm after you
Smell like I sound I'm lost in a crowd.
And I'm hungry like the wolf.

Remember the 80s?  Or at least enjoy some classic 80s rock and pop?  Maybe you'd like to hop on down to The Classroom for a near nostalgic experience listening to some 80s tracks.  They say they don't make music like they did back in the 80s.

The Classroom is a niche bar/restaurant in North Perth that has serves modern bar food and a widely ranging drinks menu.  If you're in the mood for a drink, you'll definitely want to look through the cool cocktail list that describes most cocktails with mini essays.  The creators of The Classroom are from Cocktail Gastronomy and there are some classics to be had, and even cocktails made with bunsen burners and blow torch.

Complete with school memorabilia such as lockers, multiplication tables, backboards, backpacks, and exercise books

With a name like "The Classroom" you wouldn't be surprised to suspect a classroom or school theme.  The Classroom offers a nostalgic experience with a collection of schoolies memorabilia including lockers as the bar shelves, blackboards, multiplication tables, backpacks, encyclopaedias and sporting trophies.  Bringing it all together to an era, music from the 80s (at least when I was there) is proudly played audibly throughout.

As many of these niche bars do these days, The Classroom offers a menu of mainly modern share dishes - though keeping with the theme, the menu is contained in a student exercise book.  The dishes range from small almost entree like dishes, through to larger almost main course sounding dishes, as well as sides and desserts.  The selection isn't huge, but there is a good range of food offering different types of meats and seafoods as well as vegetarian and gluten free dishes.  Portion sizes aren't large so if you're hungry like a starving wolf you could find yourself ordering several dishes to satisfy.

The service was generally fine - of the two wait-people who served us, one was very professional and helpful whilst the other seemed a little short with responses but otherwise no big issue.  No, they aren't dressed like any school teachers I had.

Chermoula chicken drumsticks, roasted sweet potato and eggplant, zesty yoghurt (gluten free) - $17

The four chicken drumsticks had their bones snapped off around the smaller and less meaty cartilage area (which also left some not-so-pleasant sharp edges and a couple of small bits of loose bones on the drumsticks).  Each drumstick tasted like they had been grilled, the outer skin and meat having a slight grilled texture and dryness to it, though the skin was not crispy.  The chermoula flavour was subtle, with the chicken retaining a lot of its flavour without much to cover it.

The dish also came with two small chunks of each of roasted sweet potato and eggplant.  Both were firm and held their shape, yet both were effortless to cut through and eat.  For me, the sweet potato in particular deliciously melted in my mouth with the sweet flavour of the sweet potato mixed with in with the light seasoning.

Spooned over the chicken was some zesty acidic yoghurt, complimenting the (light) chermoula flavours.

Szechuan pepper squid, compressed watermelon, nam-jim dressing - $16

The squid was made up of pieces of squids body as well as squid tentacles.  The squid were lightly dusted and fried, but like the chicken drumsticks the seasoning was subtle.  The squid was tender, whilst the outer coating was only lightly crispy.  However, remembering how hot some szechuan pepper dishes can be, I couldn't really say the szechuan peppers came through for me - suffice to say those of you who can't take spicy dishes shouldn't let this dish's name deter you in spice factor alone.

Served with the squid was "compressed watermelon" that was as the name suggests quite dense for watermelon, and seemed to have been coated or drizzled with some lime juice.

Hand-cut shaker chips, dynamite dust & chipotle aioli (gluten free, vegan) - $7

The chips were served in a brown paper bag, with "dynamite dust" and chipotle aioli on the side.  Presumably the "shaker" aspect gave you the option to toss in the dynamite dust (which seemed to have more paprika flavours than a spicy kick) and shake them up.

Inside the bag, the chips were placed in a chips cup.  The chips themselves were hand cut chips where you could still see the potato skin.  The chips weren't crunchy, but were more like wedges in texture (but with thick chip sizing and cut).

The blue blazer - $18

With its neon blue flame pouring between gleaming steel mugs, few cocktails are more visually impressive (and dangerous) than the blue blazer.

The blue blazer contains over-proof bourbon, raw sugar, seasonal fresh fruits and liqueurs to hand.  The drink itself had a strong bourbon taste, and was sweet, smooth, warm to touch and nearly a thick consistency.  I found it to be quite comforting and it went down a treat.

We liked: The memorabilia and (for some) the nostalgia; the interesting and special cocktail selection (and history/stories).

We didn't like: Not a lot of seating available when it gets busy (you can't RSVP and sharing tables is encouraged).

Other things to note: The bar is fully licensed; there is parking at the rear (but drive responsibly); the menu probably isn't that extensive for a full on dinner meal.
The Classroom
1/356 Charles Street
North Perth WA 6006
(08) 9444 7729

Trading Hours
Tuesday to Friday - 4pm to late
Saturday and Sunday - 12pm to late

The Classroom on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bistro Guillaume, Crown Perth, Burswood

James Packer's moulding of the former Burswood/Intercontinental into a complex worthy of the "Crown" name went a little (or a lot) further with the opening of Guillaume Brahimi's Bistro Guillaume at Crown Perth in Burswood.  Bistro Guillaume Perth is a sister restaurant to the upmarket Sydney Morning Herald two hat awarded Guillaume at Bennelong at Sydney Opera House, and the on par Bistro Guillaume at Crown Melbourne (though the waiter informs us that Bistro Guillaume Perth sits between those two restaurants and is definitely better than the one at Crown Melbourne - take that Melbourne!)

Entering Bistro Guillaume brought a smile to my face for feeling like I had stepped clearly away from the usual Perth dining scene.  Its classy modern feel is given character through the French provincial surroundings - green tones and French architecture lines.  The seating consists of some larger boothes, modern table seating, as well as an outdoor section that overlooks the pool that would be great as the weather warms up.

Completing the French experience, we found that a good portion of the wait staff had French accents.  For an opening night, I have to say I was pretty impressed with the level and quality of service.  The wait staff weren't quite at the stage where they were always there when you needed them, but otherwise they were attentive, well mannered and helpful.

The menu is presented on the table as a placemat and can be viewed here.  Of course the menu specialises in French or modern French and includes some French specialties such as escargot (snails), steak tartare, duck confit, lemon tart, and of course... French fries - no, really!  Being a Bistro, the selection isn't extensive but it does offer a good range of meats and fish but the vegetarian or vegan may struggle a little here.

Bistro Guillaume also offers a fully licensed experience with a range of modestly priced (as far as Bistro fine dining is concerned) wine list with a good selection of wines including Australian and of course French wines.  The bottle of French red we ordered was a flat $100 which seemed quite mid-range amongst the various wines on offer.  There's also an extensive cocktail menu and you can even go up and watch the bartender make your cocktail.

Complimentary bread

The complimentary bread was served nice and warm - not just lightly warm but at a nice deeply warm temperature throughout.  The bread had a very crusty surface and the inside was light and very airy - almost like a very airy crumpet.

The bread was served with butter that was so soft and smooth it almost felt like it melted as you cut through it.

A great delicious start to the meal.

Escargot en persillade - $25

I'm usually a little wary of the escargot (or snails) as the last time I had snails they were very strong in snail taste - too strong for my liking.

This dish on the other hand was quite pleasant.  The snails, which were served on a quaint dish allowing for one snail per indent on the plate, still had a light (we'll call it) "earthy" flavour but were otherwise tender and melted in the mouth.  The waiter likened it to oysters kilpatrick and in terms of texture I can see why.

The snails were cooked with (a common) persillade sauce, which contained ingredients including oil, garlic and parsley - all of which were very prominent in the sauce.  I also detected a hint of parmesan which seamlessly added its nice salty flavour to the dish.

Berkshire pork belly with salad of lentils, green apples and tarragon vinaigrette - $37

The pork belly was cooked amazingly tender that it tore effortlessly with the knife and melted in the mouth.  The pork belly was uniformly infused with seasoning and was relatively juicy.  However, as warned by the waitstaff, the pork belly was cooked soft throughout - so don't expect crispy pork crackling.

The pork belly was served with (the somewhat common for pork belly) lentils on the base, wafer thin slices of green apple salad with a tarragon vinaigrette, and more of the delicious pork jus.

Rangers Valley sirloin (300 day grain fed), crispy kipfler potatoes, watercress salad, bearnaise sauce - $42

This sirloin was my favourite mains of opening night.  The sirloin (cooked medium rare) was pink through a great portion of the steak and buttery smooth with every bite.  The sirloin had been char-grilled and had a noticeable grill/charcoal flavour that coupled with the sirloin flavour was amazing to me.  I usually prefer steak that hasn't been cooked on the grill but this might have changed my mind.

The steak was topped with a rich bearnaise sauce - lightly acidic, smooth and creamy, and packing a rich complex flavour with herbs that may just make this the best bearnaise sauce I've had to date.

The kipler potatoes were a little like wedges - though a little thinner and definitely crispier.  The potatoes were seasoned and were perfectly matched to the sirloin dish.

Venison tenderloin with beetroot, parsnip and horseradish - $40

The venison, ordered medium rare, was cooked perfectly - also pink in the middle and buttery smooth.  In comparison to the sirloin, the venison had a denser texture (though as tender as a tenderloin can be), no charcoal taste but instead a slight gamey flavour.

The venison was served with firm but tender parsnip strips and baby beetroot quarters and leaves, a beetroot puree, jus, and a hint of horseradish.  With the full-flavoured jus and the sweet beetroot puree, this venison dish seemed well presented for a venison dish.

Paris mash - $9

My cousin, who had previously been to Guillaume at Bennelong, told me to try the mash - so I did!

This "Paris" mash was like no other I'd had before.  Smooth, rich, creamy, buttery, the mash was silky smooth and seasoned perfectly (seasoned well, but not salty).  The mash had a consistency a little like whipped cream, very light and creamy as opposed to overly fluffy and heavy - for a mash it seemed almost decadent in taste and texture.

Chocolate souffle with pistachio ice cream - $22

The chocolate souffle looked very impressive served in a small copper souffle dish and the top noticeably risen high above the top of the dish.  As soon as it was placed on the table, the waiter took the quenelle of pistachio ice cream and inserted it through the top of the souffle.

We thought the chocolate souffle had a taste and texture more like a mousse as opposed to a cake, like there was cream in it.  It was rich and sweet in chocolate flavour and very light and smooth in texture with tiny bubbles uniformly throughout.

The subtly flavoured pistachio ice cream melted in the warmth of the souffle and made this dessert even smoother and creamier.

Definitely for the chocolate lover.

Lemon tart with creme fraiche - $18

This classic lemon tart was for me pretty amazing and definitely indulgent as far as lemon tarts go.

The pastry was super thin and short.  The lemon filling was dense yet light, ultra-smooth and was almost creamy in the mouth.  The tangy-ness of the lemon was very prominent, lightly balanced with sweetness but definitely retaining that zesty acidic lemon flavour.

The lemon tart was served with a small quenelle of creme fraiche which also had a light tanginess and a smooth and dense consistency.  Whilst it complimented the lemon tart, by this stage of the meal it seemed a little too much - not that it didn't go with the tart, but that we were loosening a button or two.

We liked: Great modern French food; great French provincial bistro decor making a classy modern atmosphere; great service.

We didn't like: Nothing significant.

Other things to note: Fully licensed; bookings highly recommended; if you go close to the opening you may get to meet Guillaume Brahimi himself!
Bistro Guillaume
Crown Perth
Great Eastern Highway
Burswood WA 6100
(08) 9362 7551

Trading Hours
Seven days a week - 5:30pm till late

Bistro Guillaume on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 3, 2012

Perth Dae Jang Kum Restaurant, Northbridge

Whilst it's still cold and wet (and with all that stormy weather we're having tonight) nothing satisfies the stomach better than a hot meal, home-cooked or in a nice warm restaurant.  Aside from the roasts, stews and casseroles, other things that come to mind are hot soups and then there's cooking over a heating source like a BBQ-grill dish.

Though I'm sitting at home right now typing, I'm thinking back to this Korean meal I had at Perth Dae Jang Kum Restaurant in Northbridge (the photos help my mouth water).  This Korean restaurant has a good range of Korean food including those warm-the-insides soups, meals served on hot sizzling dishes, and the self-cook BBQ grills.

Perth Dae Jang Kum Restaurant itself is quite a large restaurant with good ample seating, much like many street facing restaurants in Northbridge.  The decor is quite simple, but the restaurant is clean and the area quite spacious.  Many (if not all) of the tables include a BBQ grill which they start up for you if you order any of the BBQ grill meals - but be prepared for the odours to permeate through your clothes.

The menu offers a variety of Korean dishes including grilled meat bulgogi dishes, soup dishes that are vegetarian or come with meat or seafood, and dishes (including a variety of meats from beef to chicken and pork) you grill on the BBQ grill-plate on your table.  With each meal, Perth Dae Jang Kum Restaurant serves some typical Korean side dishes like the infamous kimchi.

Seafood pancake - $9

When I normally think pancakes, I think pancakes sweetened such as those with maple syrup and berries.  However, walk into an Asian restaurant and you may find that a pancake (or dishes that look like they could be described as a pancake - eg okonomiyaki) is a savoury affair.

This seafood pancake was one of those savoury pancakes made with bits of seafood (including baby octopus, shrimp and squid) and thin strips of carrots and spring onion mixed into the batter.  The pancake itself was made with a batter that tasted like it was flavoured or seasoned, such that the pancake itself had a savoury flavour running through it.  This gave the pancake enough flavour that it didn't need any additional sauce or condiments (though a type of chilli oil sauce was provided on the side).

Texture wise, don't expect the light fluffiness of a sweet pancake but instead a slightly more dense and solid pancake.  However, the pancake was thin and the batter not too heavy, and a base that had a deliciously lightly crunch (though quite oily at the same time with the oil probably used to help crisp up the base).  All up,  I thought this was a delicious savoury pancake.

Note that despite this being in the "entree" section of the menu, this pancake is big enough to feed a person as a main - and definitely too much for one or even two as an entree.  We were pushed to finish our entire meal sharing one of these between two for an entree.

Chicken Bulgogi - $16

This chicken bulgogi was served on the (familiar at many Korean restaurants I've tried) sizzling plate.

The chicken was barbecued in that bulgogi soy marinade, this one being quite a sweet one more so than salty but otherwise retaining a distinct soy flavour.  The chicken was marinated and cooked such that each piece seemed infused with that flavour and cooked enough to keep the chicken relatively moist and tender for a barbecued meat.

The bulgogi meal was served with a bowl of rice in a typical stainless steel bowl with a stainless steel lid.

Overall this meal had strong infused flavours, which to me seemed a bit like a stir fry - only with greater intensity and less sauce.

Tofu soup - $15

This steaming hot soup had a red colour but wasn't spicy hot, and tofu that was silky smooth.  The flavour was intense and from the small taste I had of this dish, the flavour seemed to have a thick stock base that i thought was seafood based.

Great for winter, perhaps not so good as we head into spring and summer.

Side dishes served with main courses

The complimentary sides provided with our meal included the mandatory Korean kimchi, seasoned bean sprouts, and what seemed like glutinous rice cakes.  The kimchi had a good level of spicy heat with every piece of Chinese cabbage, the bean sprouts a little oily and lightly garlic flavoured, and the rice cakes were smooth and jelly-like and topped with a soy based sauce.

We liked:  Lots of flavour in the stock, marinades and sauces; selection of pre-cooked dishes as well as self-cooking dishes on the menu

We didn't like: Sizzling dishes and table grilled food leaves you smelling like the food; not the cheapest Korean around

Other things to note: Takeaway available; vegetarian, seafood and meat options available
Perth Dae Jang Kum Restaurant
74 Francis Street
(08) 9227 0615

Trading Hours
Lunch - Tuesday to Saturday, 11:30am to 3pm
Dinner - Tuesday to Saturday, 5:30pm to 10pm

Dae Jang Geum on Urbanspoon