Boab tree and Perth view

A Boab tree in Perth’s beautiful King’s Park & Botanic Gardens

By the time we arrived in Perth last Tuesday, we’d had nearly five full days of action packed adventure and plenty of eating in Melbourne.  On the trip from the airport to the very central Rydes Hotel in Perth City, our taxi driver explained that the pace was a little slower out here in Western Australia.  I won’t lie to you – part of me breathed a sigh of relief.

It could be something to do with the weather in Perth (it rarely falls below 20 degrees in the daytime in winter and summers have highs of 45 degrees) but it’s a very relaxed place.

a cloud winters day

A cloudy winter’s day in Perth *ahem*

It took us a few days to get settled into the rhythm of things, and it was really a visit to the town of Freemantle (about a 25 minute drive from the city) on our third day when the penny dropped.

First impressions of Perth city are that it’s very, very quiet.  We arrived at about 6pm on Tuesday evening and as we pulled into our hotel, we noticed that there were a lot of people in suits leaving the city – the usual mass exodus that every financial city centre goes through on a daily basis around the world.

While, on one hand, we were happy to have a slow-down of the sensory overload that we’d had in the previous days, we were also a bit apprehensive about the city – would we be able to find stuff to do?  Would we be – I’ll whisper it – *bored*??

The main problem with Perth is that you could spend a few days there and, unless you had someone to show you around, it’s possible that you might miss the whole point of the place.  Whereas Melbourne’s cultural and arty scene is straight away in-your-face, in Perth you have to scratch the surface a bit before you find the RTRS, the Devilles Pads, the Apricot Rails, the Norfolk Basements and The Scotch of St James’ of the place.

Melbourne being the Food Capital of Australia had led us to feel on arrival in Perth…well, totally full.  So we didn’t spend as much time in this city eating as in Melbourne – but we still managed to pack in a few delicious meals.

Must Winebar: 519 Beaufort Street, Highgate, WA

champaagne lounge

Champagne Lounge in The Must Winebar

On our first night in Perth, we were taken out by the lovely Quie Ying, Sara and Mark from Tourism Western Australia.  As I said earlier, when we arrived at our hotel the city was emptying.  Our new local friends explained that while the Central Business District is very quiet during the week, the after-work action mainly takes place in the suburbs of this vastly spread-out city.

The Must Bar on Beaufort Street, a mere ten minutes drive from the city centre, was a good first place for us to hit.  Not only was the food scrumptious, but it was hopping and full to the brim – pretty good for a restaurant in any city on a Tuesday night.  Our fears of being in an empty city for the rest of our trip were successfully allayed.

After enjoying a beautiful glass (or two, was it? 😉 ) of champagne in the very plush and newly opened Champagne Lounge at the top of the Must building, we were seated at our table, which boasted a great view of the restaurant being located on a mezzanine level.  To my right, I was overlooking the twenty or so tables on the ground floor, while to my left on the mezzanine level were another ten tables and a large window on the opposite wall which looked straight into the kitchen, with all the chefs running around and shouting (which we couldn’t hear because of the window) and creating our delicious dinner.

Myself and Niall shared a starter of half a dozen Crispy Fried Oysters, in a Chick Pea Batter with a lime, avocado and tomato salsa. Yum!

oysters

I had the stunning Grilled Gold Band Snapper Fillet, topped with 1/2 Steamed Lobster tail, with a Lemon Risotto and Chevril and Vermouth Sauce. While the Snapper and Lobster were truly scrumptious, the dish was let down a little by the risotto which was just on the wrong side of gloopy for my taste.  Still, the fish was really good.

Niall had the Roasted Spatchcock with Mushroom Risotto, Radicchio Salad and Madeira Jus. He enjoyed every mouthful of it.  Usually at some point when we’re eating out, I say to Niall, “Can I have a little taste of yours?  For the food blog, like.  I mean, it’s not like I want to take your food, but it’s now in my line of duty, you understand.”  He grumbles something along the lines of “bleedin’ blog” and hands over a forkful.  This night in Perth though, I only had room for my own meal, so we’ll have to take his word for it that his dinner was delish.

red snapper smallniall's spatchcock small

My Snapper hiding under the leaves and Niall’s Spathcock

For dessert, Niall enjoyed the very carefully presented Must Vanilla Bombe Alaska with Autumn Berries and Rasperry Coulis.

I went for the Saffron & Vamilla Creme Brulée with Orange and Tequila Sorbet and Citrus Tuile. It was lovely and fresh.  I love cracking the top of a Creme Brulée.  I’m like a giddy child with a spoon being allowed to do something bold to a dessert.  Tsk.

bombed alaska smalldesserts small

Niall’s Bombe Alaska and my Creme Brulée with the Must Apple Crumble in the  background

We washed the meal down with some beautiful local wine.  We had a Vasse Felix 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaret River and a “Cheribino” Pemberton Sauvignon Blanc, from the Great Southern Region. Lovely stuff.

Il Padrino’s Pizza:198 William Street, Northbridge, Perth

il padrinos interior two

Il Padrino’s Caffe, Northbridge

On our second day in Perth, we dropped in to the famed Il Padrino’s Caffe in Northbridge before heading to the Nick Cave Exhibition in the WA Museum around the corner.  Specialising in hearty pizzas served super quick, this little cafe has that great local feel to it.  The walls are plastered with photos of customers, awards that the cafe has won, pictures of the owner and main pizza provider, Nunzio, including a picture of him and his wife on their wedding day, which takes pride of place above the counter which seperates the cafe from the enormous fiery pizza stove.

For €20 we had two (rather large) pizzas and a bottle of beer each.  Cheap and cheerful.  It was to be our only meal that day so we were able to polish of the delicious pizzas, no problemo.

I had the Papa John Paul II pizza, which was tomato, cheese, mushrooms, artichockes, olives, roast capsicum (red peppers) and spinach.  Niall had The Il Padrino, a tomato, cheese, bacon, mushrooms, chilli and lombo (and as yet unidentified to us piece of pork) affair.

Il Padrinos Papa John Paul Pizza

My Papa John Paul II pizza with Niall’s Il Padrino in the background.  Yes, we ate them all by ourselves.  Please don’t judge us.

Food in Fremantle, Western Australia

Our trip out to Fremantle, or Freo as it’s known here, was what helped us understand the buzz of Perth a little more.  Fremantle is a town on the coast about a 25 minute drive from the city centre.  It’s a sweet little seaside town that offers a lot more for the quirky side in you than the city does.  It has some funky little boutiques and quite a few unique bars that double up as breweries and venues.  It’s super chilled here and I can imagine it’s a beautiful place in the summer, as the beaches are supposed to be among the best and most unspoilt in all of Australia.  So the locals told us anyway :).

Seeing as Perth’s winter is pretty close to our Irish summer, we took a walk down to the pier to take in the scenery.  And some fish and chips.

Cicerello’s, Fisherman’s Wharf,  44 Mews Road, Fremantle

cicerellos exterior

A genuinely cloudy day in WA!

This seems to be by reputation Fremantle’s best Fish & Chips spot.  With a great view of the bay, I imagine it’s very difficult  to find a seat here in the summer.

Although the chips weren’t anything to write home about – especially since we have some pretty good chips in Ireland (I’m looking at you, Leo Burdock’s) – the fish here was super. We had some battered prawns (totally yum, which is high praise coming from a lady who ain’t a big prawn fan),  some deliciously spicy marinated deep fried squid, and some absolutely gorgeous battered scallops.  They were enormous. I’ve never seen a scallop close to them in size.

cicerellos food

Battered scallops, battered prawn and deep fried squid from Cicerello’s

They also have huge aquariums in the loos of the restaurant.  Neato.

cicerellos little nemomad fish

Little Nemo and his totally mental looking friend

After our fish ‘n’ chips,  I was very excited to see a Baskin Robbins on the pier next to  Cicerello’s.  The ice-cream here isn’t the best in the world, but it used to be a special treat for us when I was growing up in Saudi Arabia, and they don’t have Baskin Robbins in Ireland (as far as I know) so I got really excited about it and insisted that we have a Rainbow Sherbert scoop.  Again, I am a 27 year old child.

baskin robbins ice-cream

Rainbow Sherbert Baskin Robbins’ Ice-cream. Oh yeaaahhhh….

Little Creatures Brewery, 40 Mews Road, Fremantle

little creatures bar and dining hall

The Little Creatures Brewery is a cool place.  Located right on the wharf, it’s a pub and restaurant located in the centre of a fully functioning brewery.  The brewery is housed in an old shipping warehouse, so it has that industrial feel, all wire walls and high ceilings and concrete floor.

One of the many lovely locals we met told us that in order to get a job in Little Creatures, you had  to tick the “effortlessly cool” and “young and hip” boxes.  Very true.  The whole Little Creature experience has a young and entrepreneurial feel to it.  The company started in the Fremantle brewery, with an ethos of producing tasty, chemical free beer and have ended up extending the brand throughout Australia, with a Dining Hall in Melbourne and their beer being more and more readily available across the country.

Our  Little Creatures guide Tom showed us round the brewery and explained the brewing process for their five different beers.  They have the Pale Ale, The Bright Ale, Roger’s Beer, The Pilsner and The Cider.  All of them were absolutely delicious, my favourite being Roger’s.  And the Pale Ale.  And The Pilsner…you get the picture.  All good!

motueka hop flowersmalt

Motueka Hop Flowers and Malt that goes into making the Little Creatures beer

me at the barme at bar in traditional bartender's chinwag position

Serving up some Pilsner in the Little Creatures brewery and assuming standard bartender’s chinwag pose, waiting for local gossip to come my way between bevvies. Sweet.

After a tour round the Brewery by the lovely Tom, we were shown into the Dining Hall and enjoyed some very lovley food in the middle of the bustling building.  It was a bit too dark to take pics, but we had a few things from the tasty tapas style menu as well as two Roger’s.

We were well and truly stuffed.  But seriously happy.  *contented sigh*

Check out nialler9 later today with more info on the musical side of our journey.