A couple of weeks ago when the mercury nuzzled the 40 degree mark I spent the day splashing about at the beach with my best friends. It was one of those days where sun-baking is completely out of the question, and we stayed in the water the whole time, only resting momentarily to dry off once we were completely waterlogged. Naturally us being the food obsessed individuals that we are, we were discussing lunch options the entire time.
Since we were all the way down in Rockingham we decided to stay south of the river, and our hunger was fast growing so Freo seemed about our limit to travel to. Since none of us had been to the new Leighton Beach resident, The Shipping Lane, we agreed this would be our lunch destination. I didn’t have my camera on me, so my photos were grainy iPhone snaps but the food was tasty and fresh. I actually enjoyed it so much that I returned a week later with my boy, my mum and my aunty.
Driving up along the manicured streets where Bib & Tucker and The Shipping Lane both sit, it almost feels like I’m on holiday in some beautiful coastal town. The restaurant is open and airy, with outdoor seating for those of you who want to bring your pups up to keep you company after play time at the nearby dog beach.
My first visit there with my girls saw all three of us ordering watermelon and raspberry juices. I like the mason jar mugs which seem to be all the rage these days, but the size is decent and I am completely turned off paper straws right now so I was happy to see the drinks come with practical plastic ones.
The combination of watermelon and raspberry is a lovely combination though in this case the watermelon wasn’t sweet enough making the juice feel a little lacklustre. It just needed some added sweetness, like the use of strawberries – just a little something to bring more life to it.
My second visit I decided to opt for something a little simpler, choosing a freshly squeezed orange juice. It’s light and refreshing, with that perfect balance of sweet and sour. Summer is definitely juice season for me (even though I drink it all year round!).
Jeremy came with me for the second visit, and chose a banana smoothie for his drink. It looks a treat and he happily slurps up every last drop in the glass. The perfect way to kick start your day!
The layout of the restaurant around the till is true to the venue’s name, with shipping containers adding to the decor. It’s simple but aesthetically pleasing – I particularly like the tables and chairs selected which are quite striking yet functional. The whole place feels very modern and understated.
Food doesn’t take too long to come out at The Shipping Lane, with the ordering system having people come up to order and pay at the till. It seems this is the standard these days for brunch venues which initially I wasn’t a fan of but I actually really like now – it gives you the freedom to up and leave at your own choice without waiting for the staff to settle bills etc.
On my first visit to The Shipping Lane Vee ordered the mushroom crepe ($18.00) which from memory came with a balsamic glaze, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and crumbled feta. She added a serving of chorizo ($5.00) to accompany it because well, it’s freaking chorizo. My mum also ordered this dish on my second visit. We’re all such mushroom addicts!
The crepe is thin but stays together, the filling chock-a-block full of mushrooms. It’s a very simple dish but well executed and I think adding the chorizo is a smart move to get that extra oomph.
Linda’s dish on our first visit was the bruschetta ($21.00). It’s definitely one of the healthiest bruschettas I’ve come across with a single slice of bread hidden beneath a generous salad, smashed avocado, ricotta cheese, balsamic reduction, maple syrup glazed bacon and olive tapenade.
I think if I were in her position I’m not so sure how I’d feel about this dish. While she assures me the ingredients are all tasty, in my opinion it’s not a bruschetta. It’s more of a salad that happens to have bread underneath. But she seemed to enjoy the flavours and was quick to finish it all, sating her hunger after our long beach session.
Between Vee, Linda and I we also let our curiosity of their sushi menu (and greed of course) get the better of us. So we order a serving of the “Rock” n Roll sushi ($21.00) which is eight pieces of sushi with tempura prawn, cucumber, carrot, asparagus, seaweed salad, salmon, guacamole, mayonnaise and spicy sauce. Oh yeah, and popping candy – you know, no big deal.
Wait? Popping candy? Yes. Oh yes. And it is as wonderful as you could imagine in a savoury dish like this – you get the fresh veggies, the crunchy battered prawn and the sweet rice, which all finishes with your mouth crackling like a fireplace in winter.
I did think that it was a little strange that not all pieces of sushi had the prawn in it, but those that did were quite generous so it was easy enough to get over. I did notice that there was no asparagus though as promised which was disappointing since it’s one of my favourite vegetables. The guacamole is seriously good. Enough said!
My favourite dish of both visits was actually the one I ordered on my first, and what my aunt ordered on my second. The crispy potato stack ($21.00) is a potato cake sitting atop of a mint sour cream and is topped with avocado, haloumi, pumpkin jam, crispy potato skin, quinoa and greens. There’s also some nuts thrown into the mix for texture and added flavour.
Everyone that tried this dish agreed it was kind of the bees knees. If bees even have knees. We can tick off the criteria required for a successful dish with the elements involved. It’s creamy from the avocado, sweet from the pumpkin jam, starchy from the potato and salty from that giant slab of haloumi. The potato cake in particular requires additional praise because it is the business. So full of flavour that I wish I could replicate this at home to have whenever I feel the cravings come on. Even my mum loved the dish – and she’s not a potato fan at all.
My dish of choice on my second visit was a toss up between the potato stack again and the salmon. Feeling like I should try something different I finally landed on the slow poached salmon with roasted potato, crispy bacon bits, spinach, honey mustard dressing, truffle oil and a slow cooked egg ($21.00).
The honey mustard dressing is tangy and delicious, the egg satisfyingly yolky and bursting open to bring the desirable yellow river. I don’t know why I love eggs so much, but this one is on the money. It works well as a second sauce, and the well seasoned potatoes are just the right thing to scoop up the yolk. The only real downfall of this dish is that the salmon is overcooked, and so it’s a bit mushy when I eat it. It’s not the end of the world, but I have to confess that I expected the star of the dish to shine a bit brighter.
Since our second visit was also for lunch, some additional items are available outside of the breakfast options. My boy chose his dish from this section, selecting the pulled pork shoulder with Chinese slaw bun, coriander, Japanese mayonnaise and smoked BBQ sauce ($20.00).
It seems like steamed buns are all the rage these days, not that I’m complaining because with my mum hailing from Taiwan, these are something I’ve loved from childhood. The filling The Shipping Lane use is sweet and sticky, reminding me of a Taiwanese dish called lo ba (my boy’s favourite thing to eat in the world).
Word of warning with this dish, it tastes oh so good, but don’t be tempted to tackle it with your hands, this is a saucy meal so it needs some knife and fork action.
Places like The Shipping Lane are just what I love about our great city. With such beautiful beaches at our fingertips, it’s perfect to have places nearby that you can feast away at while breathing in salty sea air and listen to the waves crashing and seagulls squawking. Next time I come by I might have to bring my dogs Murphy and new addition Maisy to keep me company for a brunch date.