Monday, 30 March 2015

Low Key Chow House, Leederville, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)


If you ever want to see me irrational and highly frustrated, then hop into the car with me while driving on the freeway during peak times - especially on a Friday night. There have been so many occasions when Alissa and I have wanted to head into Perth or Leederville for the evening and decided against it, as even going against the flow by trying to drive north can be met with sometimes inexplicably slow moving traffic and the lose-lose choice of either getting off at Canning Hwy and going through the suburban rat run or committing to the Freeway with no hope of escaping a traffic jam between there and South Perth.

Every time Alissa and I have had a free night to visit Low Key Chow House in Leederville, its been a Friday night and the thought of the drive has been enough for me to not want to go - especially since Leederville is only 15 minutes away from home if we have a clear run. With Alissa dying to try their food, I eventually gave in, and after a race against the clock we found ourselves in on the Oxford St main strip in time for our 6pm reservation.

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Sunday, 29 March 2015

Hikaru Ramen, Perth, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)


Being something of a ramen obsessive, I always live in hope of discovering new or hidden ramen shops in my home city of Perth. Although the worldwide ramen craze has definitely taken off in a big way in Sydney and Melbourne, there are far fewer ramen specialists of note in Perth, and in a recent discussion with a friend we both expressed our dismay over the fact so few in the CBD are open at night, and when they do its only on Friday nights - don't they know ramen is an anytime food?!? One Friday night, Alissa and I headed into Perth to try relatively new ramen joint Hikaru Ramen only to discover they were no longer open for Friday evenings - or any evenings at all for that matter! With both of us not working in the CBD, it would take Alissa and another 3 months before we finally got around to try our first bowls from Hikaru Ramen.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Raw Kitchen, Fremantle, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)


Keen followers of the Ministry will note something of trend in introductory paragraphs when it comes to our visits to restaurants in the Port City of Fremantle - namely, that our meals are few and far between and that the city's lack of vibrancy has led it to be a distant second city when compared to the exciting developments happening throughout Perth and Northbridge. While I still contend that Fremantle has a long way to go to catch up to Perth and the sight of the horribly boring and dead High Street Mall fills me with great sadness for a city I grew up in, there are signs that change is slowly finding its way into a city that is strangely conservative when it comes to progress considering it renowned progressiveness when it comes to social change.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Marumo, Nedlands, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)


Almost 2 years ago (sadly, in pre-blog days), Alissa and I had the great privilege of booking a table at Marumo in Leeming. At the time, we were still fairly new Bateman residents and the $39 omakase-only restaurant was the best rated restaurant in the area. Bewildered by its seemingly crazy low asking price for a degustation, I tried in January 2013 to book a table for Alissa's birthday in March, only to discover that the next available month was July. Thankfully I got in when I did, as by March the restaurant was booked out for the entire year! Dining with our friends Justin, Sarah, Trevor and Annaliese, we were all blown away by the quality of the food we were getting for such a low asking price, as well as how disparate the clearly converted fish and chips shop's Ikea level furnishings were compared to the refined quality of the food. Thoroughly impressed, Justin tried to book a table straight away only to be informed that the restaurant was not accepting any further bookings as they were deciding whether to move or renovate.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Print Hall (Dining Room), Perth, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)


It's hard to believe that Print Hall - the multi-storey, multi venue centrepiece of Brookfield Place  - has been brightening up the previously dead night life of St. George's Terrace for two and a half years. In spite of Alissa and I having kept abreast of many of the new restaurants that have opened up around the future Perth City Link and having dined at many of the West Australian Good Food Guide's former and current 1 and 2 Star restaurants, we've neglected the many wonders of Brookfield Place. It's not for want of trying; there were the odd false starts and failed gatherings at the Apple Daily and the Trustee that never came to be, and there have been many wistful walks through the precinct on a Sunday as we planned for future meals. After initial plans for our first wedding anniversary in November were changed to a meal at Co-Op Dining, the celebration of Alissa's birthday seemed like as good a reason as any to finally dine in the precinct, and we decided to go all out with a reservation at the Print Hall Dining Room - the Good Food Guide's Restaurant and Wine List of the Year.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Juniper & Bay, Como, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)


Over the last few years, Perth has really seen a massive improvement in the quality and quantity of its middle-upper price bracket eateries. Most of this growth has been concentrated in the booming Small Bar and Share Plates restaurant model typified by places like Varnish on King and The Standard, however if you're looking for something a bit quieter for a date or a special dinner without jumping into the $100+ price range of truly high end restaurants like Restaurant Amusé, the $50-$85/head price bracket has a lot less impressive options than major eastern states cities like Sydney and Melbourne. While Share Plate food is very much the flavour of the month these days, its nice to see some restaurants stepping up to fill this niche.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Boston Brewery, Denmark, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)


With the food at cellar door restaurants generally leaning towards fine dining and an environment unsuitable for young children, it was perhaps inevitable that something had to fill the more casual, family friendly dining niche in the South West. Considering the fact that the location of a brewery is arguably less terroir driven than wine (though cannot be discounted), the explosion of the 'Pizzas and Brewery' business model as the answer to this niche has been a surprising runaway success. Breweries are now such an ubiquitous fixture of all of Western Australia's major wine regions that families with younger children are probably more likely to have dined at a brewery than a winery during a trip Down South. 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Kojonup Bakery, Kojonup, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)


Just as progressive dining experiences like Wills Domain amd Foragers are recommended parts of a tour of the South West, the town bakeries of regional WA are a charming slice of classic Australiana that simply cannot be ignored. Many seem to make wild claims of award winning greatness, and there can be heated debate about which bakery really makes the best pies. While Alissa and I have not written about any of these bakeries before, we have visited a number of them during our many visits through the South West. As you'd expect, some are justifiably praised while others are somewhat overrated. We had the worst, most burnt coffee at one bakery during this trip, and on an earlier holiday we found another seemed very much caught up in its success to the point that they even told us that no photography was allowed, as if their menu was such a major trade secret! Considering they advertise all the pies that won them awards all over the outside of their premises, this secrecy seemed utterly laughable.

One bakery that I do really enjoy visiting is the Kojonup Bakery, a quiet achiever on the Kojonup main strip on Albany Hwy. The bakery is simple and honest looking, having none of the flash of some of the other bakeries in the Great Southern, however their Pies and Sausage Rolls speak for themselves.

Mrs Jones Cafe, Denmark, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)



Regular readers of the Ministry will notice a dearth of breakfast related posts. Arguably the meal of the day that is most tied to convention and thus (for me) the least artistically satisfying, I just don't get very excited about going out to eat breakfast, and with the exception of dim sum, I prefer to wait for real lunchtime rather than by going for brunch. Every now and then however, a breakfast cafe makes it onto our list of places to check out. Over many trips to Denmark, Alissa and I have heard our family in the area rave about the food at Mrs Jones Cafe, and after a failed attempt to have breakfast there last year and a few coffee-only visits, Alissa and I managed to finally check out a cafe that has fast become a Denmark dining institution.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Petite Villaine, Denmark, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)


Two years ago, Alissa and I visited Rockcliffe Winery for lunch. Back then, their cellar door restaurant was Silas Masih's Pepper & Salt - arguably the best and most interesting restaurant in Denmark - and Masih's spice-driven fusion cuisine combined with the ambiance of Rockcliffe's idyllic vineyards and gardens made for a very satisfying, lazy afternoon in the South West. By the end of that year, Pepper & Salt had moved out of Rockcliffe to take up residence at Forest Hill. I understood the move - Forest Hill's grand dining room is one of the best you're likely to find at any of WA's best cellar door restaurants, but I felt a bit sorry for Rockcliffe in a way, and hoped that the restaurant space would once again house a restaurant worthy of its setting.