I have to come clean. I have been using the Eat Drink Perth festival as an excuse to justify eating out even more than usual. Given the frequency that I dine in restaurants is already quite high, you can imagine what a busy month it has been. It has given me a wonderful opportunity to fall in love with Perth City once again and discover even more fantastic venues to return back to. One of these little discoveries has been Muse Café. I was initially attracted to visit them after reading in the Eat Drink Perth program that they offer both gluten free and vegetarian options for their Saturday High Tea. When informing the Boy that I had booked us a lunch date, I glossed over the finer details as I suspected that the words “High Tea” would have had him running in the opposite direction. Instead I tried to focus on the fact that I had kindly found somewhere specifically vegetarian just for him! Such a good wife. 😉
The café is located in the Old Gaol building in the WA Museum which is one of the oldest buildings still standing in Western Australia. It was built in 1855 and 1856 by convicts but was only used as a gaol until 1886 after which it was closed and the prisoners were all moved to the Fremantle Gaol. It has been used as part of the WA Museum since 1891.
The back of the café opens out onto a leafy courtyard where you can relax and take in the atmosphere of the beautiful old buildings surrounding you. We were shown into a more cosy little room within the building that has been decorated for the purposes of intimate high tea parties.
There are a number of bubbles available to drink including Balgownie Sparkling Brut Yarra for $8 per glass or $35 for a bottle. For those with finer taste there is also Veuve Clicquot champagne by the bottle only. To cleanse the palate, we started off with some fresh watermelon and strawberry salad with mint syrup. Knowing I cannot eat watermelon due to its high fructose content the Boy happily finished mine off for me after I picked out all the strawberries.
Service was attentive but unobtrusive allowing us to sink back into the antique chairs and nibble our way through the first platter. It contained a mixture of gluten free items for me and vegetarian items for the Boy. I did note that everything was served on the same plate however I suffered no reactions to suggest there was any cross contamination. For those particularly sensitive I would suggest pre-requesting that your gluten free items be plated separately.
My gluten free options included two types of frittata; Jerusalem artichoke and spinach, and caramelised onion, goats cheese and thyme. I decided to wear the consequences of a little onion ingestion as there wasn’t much contained in them. The baby berry friand was my favourite with a perfect balance of tart and sweet. Other gluten free items included the fruit salad and the chocolate date torte which the Boy polished off both.
The Boy’s trio of vegetarian sandwiches included cucumber with Meander Valley butter and sea salt; egg, aioli and Swiss chard; and pickled carrot and goats cheese. He paired these finger sandwiches with two lemonade and date scones dolloped with double cream and jam. Despite never being a jam and scones type of guy he still enjoyed them. He even sipped on some cinnamon tea to wash them all down which amazed me as he very rarely drinks tea at all.
Our second platter had three different types of sweets on it. The gluten free passionfruit marshmallows were soft and fluffy making a subtle squelching noise when you bit into them that you only get from fresh mallow. The chocolate pomegranate cakes were also gluten free and were richly decadent with a slight hint of nutty flavour.
The lemon curd tarts were not gluten free being made from a shortbread casing lined with dark chocolate and filled with a tangy curd. Thankfully I was already quite full and it didn’t bother me too much that I couldn’t try them however the Boy ate both and delighted in rubbing it in how delicious he found them.
For the month of April as part of the Eat Drink Perth festivities, Muse café offer high tea every Saturday with two sittings at 11 am and 1 pm for $46 per person. There is a 15% surcharge for gluten free and vegetarian menus. Chompchomp paid in full for both hers and the Boy’s high tea however she did receive a complementary glass of bubbles 😉 Muse café can also offer pre-booked high tea for groups throughout the year. Muse Café Cnr Beaufort and Francis Street, Northbridge, WA 6003 | 0411 708 063 | museum.wa.gov.au/museums/perth/muse-cafe
I am fortunate enough to work on the doorstep of the Swan Valley. This means that it is relatively easy to have some office meetings out and about and over the years we have developed a few favourites. Taylor’s Art and Coffee House has been one of those locations mainly due to their excellent coffee and interesting range of gluten free cakes. Their coffee is sourced from a small local company called Dark Star who roast their own imported beans on site in Northbridge. It is a full flavoured coffee that is perfect for an espresso or short mac, just how I like it.
Choosing a venue to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday was left up to me and with some winter sunshine on the forecast I suggested a trip to the valley. The Boy’s family appreciate eating big hearty meals in a casual relaxed dining atmosphere so I knew Taylor’s Art and Coffee House would fit the bill perfectly. No pretension or tiny plates of food.
Having never been here before on a weekend I was surprised to see the place was packed inside and out. Although the winter sun was shining brightly there was little warmth coming from its golden rays so we made ourselves comfortable inside under the heaters.
There were a few winter coughs and snuffles around the table so we all treated ourselves to a bowl of hot soup of the day to warm our bellies and sooth our throats. Unfortunately a few of the bowls that were brought to our table were lukewarm and had to be sent back to the kitchen to be reheated. The smooth and creamy corn soup provided excellent value at just $9 for a small bowl however I did think the one thin slice of accompanying gluten free bread was a bit on the stingy side. On previous occasions I have received a couple of slices with my soup, I’m not sure if they were on bread rations that day and were running out?
For my main I ordered the vegetarian frittata made with eggplant, fire roasted capsicum, basil, spinach and feta. It came with a massive side serve of salad containing sweet potato, pine nuts and fresh greens. The serving size was enormous and I starting wishing I didn’t order the soup as well. I guess I didn’t really need that extra piece of toast with my soup after all! The frittata could have done with a touch more seasoning and was very slightly burnt on the bottom. The huge salad was very filling even for my over-sized stomach and it was a struggle to finish it. Once again I felt this was value for money.
The Boy ordered the vegan burger. It contained a falafel patty with cashew cheese, beetroot relish and fire roasted capsicum. He was very disappointed with his choice and barely ate any of it. He said the bread was too hard and tasted almost stale; the burger patty was very soft and crumbled apart too easily and the relish was far too spicy for his liking. What a shame because it looked really tasty.
My mother in law ordered the mushroom tart with caramelised garlic, chevre and salmon. I didn’t really get a lot of adjectives from her describing its taste but I do know she enjoyed it and had no complaints.
My sister-in-law ordered the chermoula chicken salad. I have had this salad on a couple of occasions and once again the serving size is more than ample and will leave you contentedly full. Pieces of chermoula marinated chicken were served with a high mound of roasted sweet potato, beetroot, chickpeas, spinach, spiced yoghurt and a garlic walnut crumble. The flavours all work nicely together with a lovely balance of textures and a slight spicy kick.
One of the main reasons I came back to Taylor’s was that I knew they had a few gluten free options for dessert. However by the time I had eaten my soup, my huge plate of salad and my frittata I was bursting at the seams. When we were ordering our lunch earlier I spied a pile of rich cubes of gluten free chocolate brownies in the cake cabinet and was sure that between the Boy and I we could polish one off. Unbeknownst to me my young nephew had also decided that HE wanted a brownie too. When we returned back to the counter to order our coffee and cakes, the mound of brownies had been reduced to a mere single square! I figured that must be a signal to me to stop being greedy and let him order it for himself, not without stealing a few mouthfuls though! It was moist and very chocolatey, there would have been no way I could have eaten one to myself after all the food I had already chowed down.
I still haven’t quite made up my mind about Taylor’s Art and Coffee House; whilst their coffees and cakes are worth a visit the execution in the kitchen didn’t seem to handle the busyness of weekend brunch. I haven’t had such problems during my mid-week visits and I can assure you I will still return.Taylor’s Art and Coffee House 510 Great Northern Highway, Middle Swan 6056 | 0447 441 223 | http://www.taylorscafe.com.au/ Price: $$ Food: 2.5/5 (awesome coffee & cakes but lukewarm soup and inedible vegan burger) Service: 3/5 (slow service but friendly enough, the barista is a character who shows passion & enthusiasm) Ambience: 3/5 (quaint, relaxed country feel) Drinks: 4/5 (the coffee won me over) Total: 12.5/20
We rocked up obliviously late for lunch just as Food For Me was near their closing time hoping to grab a bite to eat. I still hadn’t twigged that they were about to shut and began to peruse the menu at which point the waiter politely informed me the kitchen was closed. Not perturbed in any way he kindly smiled and offered to reheat some of the food from the cabinet for us. After apologising profusely for our ignorance we accepted his offer.
I selected the spinach frittata with bacon, pine nuts and feta plus a beetroot and spinach salad. The frittata was light and set firmly without being chewy or unpleasant. The salad was obviously reaching the end of its life span but seeing as we had rudely barged our way in at the thirteenth hour I figured this to be expected at this time of day.
The Boy ordered one of his time old favourites; the beef lasagna. Thick with meaty sauce and gooey cheese the lasagna connoisseur gave it the big thumbs up. We both vowed to return when both the kitchen and the coffee machine were switched on and see what these guys could do.
A few weeks later I attended Rob Broadfield‘s sold out seminar on food writing at the Hyatt with Foodie Cravings and Perth Munchkin. Rob gave us some useful tips on how to write captivating restaurant reviews worthy enough to publish in the well-known West Australian Good Food Guide. The day also served to give him an opportunity to scope for new reviewers as each delegate had to submit an 80 word café or bar review. I found it amusing that basically we were all paying for the chance to have an interview!
It started off a stunning morning with clear blue skies and a crisp breeze so I chose to walk into the city. Halfway through the four-hour seminar I began to regret this decision as my stomach let out some clearly audible grumblings and my head started to spin. Talking about food wasn’t helping my situation much either. As soon as the seminar was over I met up with the Boy and headed straight to Food For Me, Victoria Park for lunch.
Serving locally roasted Essenza coffee, the beans are ground on demand and you can smell the aroma as soon as you walk into the café. The coffee is quite sweet and creamy without any strong bitterness or bite.
Although they do serve gluten free toast I wasn’t in the mood for bread and chose the zucchini and corn fritters. I didn’t expect such a huge meal and with half a brilliant green avocado, tossed salad and two poached eggs I was thankful I did walk earlier in the morning. All that bridal weight loss was returning back to my hips in a very fast fashion. The fritters were filled brim full of corn, each ear popping with freshness in my mouth.
My poached eggs were satisfyingly gloopy and I couldn’t stop myself from grabbing a quick yolk-porn shot. Heavenly. The preserved lemon, chilli and dill dressing had a sweet almost maple syrupy flavour to it and I had to resist licking the last of it off my empty plate before they were taken away.
The Boy nearly ordered himself a steak sandwich before he stopped himself and changed to a chicken burger instead. Juicy tenderloins were buried in the burger among some bacon, cheese and lettuce. Their breads are sourced from Barrett’s Bakery in Nedlands where they hand make all their bread without adding any additives. The burger bun was soft but resilient and despite the constant drip of mayonnaise and relish it retained its shape and body until the very end.
When we were up at the counter ordering our meals, our waiter talked up their gluten free brownies claiming them to be outrageously good. After finishing off the last of my fritters my curiosity got the better of me and I sidled back up to the counter to order one to share. Rich and moist, the brownie lived up to his hype and was laced with some tart raspberries to balance out the sweetness. There was no crumbliness common to gluten free slices and our spoons fought over the last mouthful.
Breakfast in Vic Park can often be a bit of hit and miss. Having visited Food For Me on a number of occasions now I can safely say they are on my list of hits. Loads of gluten free options, fresh mostly organic produce and friendly staff they really have got their recipe right. We will be returning for sure.Food For Me 877 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park, 6101 | (08) 9472 0333 | http://www.foodforme.com.au/ Price: $$ Food: 4/5 (loads of GF options, make sure you try their brownie!) Service: 4/5 (super positive friendly vibe) Ambience: 3/5 (try and nail a table outside in the sun) Drinks: 3.5/5 (creamy luscious coffee) Total: 15.5/20
Eat Drink Blog 2012: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
It was an early start the following morning after the Eat Drink Blog conference dinner at the Hilton Adelaide with many of us nursing hangovers from all the excesses of food and drink. The organising committee had planned things well with baristers on the ready handing out freshly brewed coffee to bleary eyed delegates. A massive breakfast spread was provided by Red Door Bakery and The Yoghurt Shop and included a moist gluten free frittata for me to enjoy.
The lecture content over the day provided me with many useful take home tips ranging from food photography, food styling, ethics, working with PRs, SEO and some legal advice. As many of my fellow bloggers have already posted extensive wrap ups of the lecture content, in order to prevent saturating the web with repeat content I suggest you head over to the Eat Drink Blog website for the links.
No food blogging conference is complete without copious amounts of food. Although we may have been fed and watered very well the previous night at the conference dinner and then again that morning; nothing prepared us for the vibrant pop up lunch downstairs in the Adelaide Central Markets.
All produce on offer was proudly South Australian and included the most enormous pan of aromatic paella, gluten free cured meats, freshly cooked ham, local cheeses and artisan breads.
There was even a freshly baked loaf of gluten free Laucke bread accompanied by its own, non-contaminated cutting board and knife. It was a spongy fluffy loaf with the consistency of real bread!
The onslaught of delectable food continued well into the afternoon. Natasha from Playing House had kindly stayed up all hours the night before busily baking our afternoon tea spread. Cake pops, chocolate mousse and some adorable little mini cakes which surprisingly vanished quickly even though I’m sure most of us were at maximal stomach capacity!
The flourless orange cake was moist and zesty and although my expanded belly was starting to give the impression I was with child, I actually had to stop myself from going back for seconds.
Sadly all good things must always come to an end and coming down off my sugar rush my emotions ran high. In an out of character moment I swear I felt a tear prick in my eye as it dawned on me that this fantasy weekend was truly over. Many of the delegates had planes to catch, families to return to and lots of fresh new motivation to blog. After a flurry of farewells, hugs and promises to eat together once again we all departed to return back to our real lives.
Thanks once again to the Eat Drink Blog 2012 committee:
Thanks also to all the generous sponsors. Without your help this free conference would never have happened.
I have worked at the same practice for nearly ten years. It has been both an unavoidable yet enjoyable experience to form strong bonds with some of my team members over this period of time. Despite wishing that all my good staff would stay with me forever, I respect that people’s lives change and they move on. When a true friendship is formed in addition to a professional relationship it actually ceases to become that important that you remain working together as you will always stay in touch with each other.
It was sad to lose Tracy from our highly talented team of vet nurses, but dealing with other people’s naughty animals can be emotionally trying work and like many others she eventually got fed up with her career choice. Tracy and I share a lot in common: we love our food and wine, have similar alternative music tastes and appreciate the finer things in life. After a few months of settling into her new job we realised we must make more effort to catch up socially and organised a brunch outing sans children and men.
Sayers Sister is the new venture by Mark and Steph Sayers in the leafy suburban part of Northbridge. The original café Sayers Food in Leederville has been open since 2006 and continues to fill up with hordes of hungry people every morning. It appears that Sayers Sister is following in her footsteps and similarly shares in such popularity. To my relief Tracy managed to score us table only minutes before the morning rush began. As we sat and sipped our coffees, we watched people eagerly queuing out the door and down the street desperate for a table.
As many of my dear readers may know, I have an infatuation with poached eggs. I truly believe one of the simplest and most satisfying things in life is that burst of molten sunshine when you gently cut into them. So to prove to myself I’m not entirely predictable, I decided to order the scrambled eggs. Folds of foamy eggs flopped over the plump gluten free toast and were draped generously with citrus salmon gravlax. I gasped at the size of my dish; this was one serious looking breakfast! The eggs literally dissolved in my mouth however I didn’t enjoy my gluten free toast as much as last time. It was slightly under-toasted leaving a slight doughy aftertaste.
Tracy chose the buttermilk pancakes with blueberry compote and lemon posset. Her serving size was not for the light hearted either and you can be rest assured that the men in your life will not walk away from this place hungry. The lemon posset was set like custard and so delicately fragrant. With Tracy’s encouragement, I couldn’t resist a little taste. Imagine creamy lemon butter crossed with a soft gooey pudding. It was totally divine.
Sayers Sister sure does give her sibling a run for her money. The ambiance is much brighter, lighter and has more energy and as seen by the lengthening queue as we left it is hitting the spot for many punters. I thought the execution of the food could have been slightly improved; toast is not a hard thing to make however this was made up for by the use of extremely fresh ingredients, an interesting menu and very good coffee.Sayers Sister 236 Lake St, Northbridge WA 6000 | (08) 9227 7506 | Facebook Price: $ ($11-22 for breakfast meals) Food: 4/5 (great menu choices, huge meals) Service: 4/5 (similar vibrancy and warmth as at Sayers) Ambience: 4/5 (fresh flowers, communal tables, bright, clean open kitchen) Drinks: 4.5/5 (5 senses coffee…winning) Total: 16.5/20
If you are anything like me and have grown bored of ordering old school basics for breakfast like eggs benedict then head over to Maylands. A decent handful of venues all within close proximity to each other will fulfil your desire for something a bit more original than what you easily could cook up at home. Furthermore they all appear to be very gluten free friendly with a number of options for us allergic types.
Mrs S is one of my favourites amongst these establishments however due to a variety of circumstances we haven’t returned to enjoy her deliciousnesses for over six months! After deciding to finally head back there I got myself in quite a state of excited anticipation. I pre-emptively added to my Sunday run an extra 2 kms to my usual twelve in order to have two guilt free courses for breakfast!
To my complete dismay we were greeted by a locked door and an empty cafe with a sign saying they would be reopening the following week. Perhaps my post run jitters exaggerated my emotions a little but I swear nearly cried in disappointment. After scooping my heart off the pavement, we followed our noses back up Whatley Crescent past Chapels and stumbled upon Sherbet Bake House. This bright café was brimming full of life and aromas of freshly roasted coffee wafted out the door and down the street.
Sherbet serve Fiori coffee which is roasted locally by a small business that strive to only import coffee harvested from ethical and sustainable plantations. I recently enjoyed Fiori for the first time (along with some amazing scrambled eggs with truffle oil) at The Imp in Vic Park. I love its smooth yet rich flavour. The perfect style of coffee to be served as a traditional short mac. Sherbet do not sell cooked breakfasts as they are more a bake shop than a café, however they do have a counter full of colourful meal options which can be warmed up and served with a fresh green salad. I chose the roast pumpkin and feta frittata which was the only gluten free savoury option.
Flying close on the coat tails of my perfect frittata I had a few weeks ago at the Little Pantry, this one certainly gave them a run for their money. Its texture was well set and similarly lacked any unpleasant wateriness. There was an abundance of fresh herbs speckled throughout. The pumpkin was particularly sweet and dense making it almost feel like a dessert dish as opposed to something savoury. The Boy’s pumpkin and sundried tomato tart was just as good, with soft flaky pastry and filled with more of the sweet pumpkin.
For dessert options I was a little spoilt for choice; Sherbet has much more to offer than the usual gluten free choices of orange almond or flourless chocolate! I had been trying to abstain from chocolate all week as I am starting to wonder how I will ever lose any weight before the wedding. In true manner of wanting what you can’t have, all that my self-control achieved was effectively to make me crave and obsess about chocolate even more. Thus there were no surprises when I returned to our table with a berry chocolate minicake. The cake had a wonderful light sponge texture, something hard to replicate in gluten free baking and there were plenty of fresh berries buried deep inside. I cannot wait to return for another!www.sherbetbakeshop.com.au Price: $$ ($ under $15/meal) Food: 4.5/5 (minimal savoury GF options but LOADS of sweets) Service: 3.5/5 (no table service, but were quick and efficient) Ambience: 3.5/5 (bustling and energetic, some alfresco tables in the sun) Drinks: 4.5/5 (serve Fiori coffee – very smooth and rich style) Total: 16/20
Spontaneous and unplanned brunches are often the best as there is no level of expectation or excitement. If the meal successfully hits the spot, the pleasure is such a wonderful surprise that it makes the overall experience even better. Our visit to Little Pantry was one of these wonderful occasions.
That week it had been so wet and wild in our normally sunny city of Perth. The winter weather leaves us all in a state of shock as we are never prepared emotionally or physically for anything that amounts to a real winter. Despite being so unaccustomed and permanently in a state of shiver, my practice manager Liz and I both headed out in the pouring rain on some important business duties. Our trip took us into Subiaco and once our meeting had finished we deemed it essential to stop somewhere for a coffee and a bite to eat to discuss our opinions before presenting it back to our colleagues.
I vaguely recalled seeing a number of cute little cafés along Nicholson Road last time I was in the area and so we headed over there for a gander. The Little Pantry caught my eye as we drove past so after a bit of searching for a park we were fortunate enough for a break in the rain and headed in.
The tiny little café was packed with people, with a big communal table in the centre circled by smaller tables. I understand where the name comes from because it is indeed little. The barista was pumping out some scrumptious smelling coffee and there were a small but mouth-watering selection of lunch options in their cabinet. After some initial concerns that there wouldn’t be any gluten free options I was assured by the waiter that the frittata was suitable.
Our coffees came out quickly and my short macchiato was so good I nearly ordered a second when I noticed the time was already heading into the afternoon. If I have coffee too late into the afternoon I have great trouble falling asleep and with a bright and shiny 7am start the next day I was thankful I looked at the clock first. Little Pantry serves Ponchione coffee that they get airfreighted in fresh from Italy.
My frittata was nearly the best frittata I think I have ever had! It was set to a perfect texture without any wateriness and held its ingredients in place without slipping and slopping apart. It contained sweet potato, zucchini and a hard cheese which I think it tasted like Romano. It was served with a crisp fresh salad of greens dressed to perfection with some extra virgin olive oil.
Liz’s quiche was similarly mind-blowing. It’s incredible how if simple food is cooked and prepared properly using ultra fresh ingredients it can potentially be just as amazing as some fine dining, fancy schpanzy dishes. The pastry was buttery soft and flaky but so wonderfully paper-thin as to not overwhelm the spinach, ricotta and prosciutto filling. It was as divine as mine was.
I am so delighted with our little find and highly recommend stopping in at the Little Pantry if you’re in the area for lunch. Make sure you order a coffee.
Like Me on Facebook!Little Pantry 206 Nicholson Road, Subiaco WA 6008 | (08) 9388 8780 Price: $ (under $15 for lunch each) Food: 5/5 (I simply couldn’t find any fault) Service: 4/5 (prompt friendly and knowledgeable about ingredients) Ambience: 4/5 (buzzing, energetic) Drinks: 4.5/5 (great coffee) Total: 17.5/20