Whenever anyone finds out I write a food blog, there seems to be a variety of reactions spanning from complete misunderstanding to those that seem to think it makes me a guru of where to eat in Perth – something I would never claim to be! While I love food and discovering new places to dine at, I also have some places which are tried and true. I guess you’d call them my favourites.
For me, one of those very places is Duende. As a Spanish tapas restaurant by night and a brunch joint by day, it offers diners a wide variety of dishes that are ever changing, and always pleasing. Don’t get me wrong, like any relationship we’ve had our ups and downs, but from the first time I ate there until now, I remain loyal and in love.
If you haven’t eaten at this corner hotspot in Leederville, I definitely recommend it. The price is a little on the expensive side for tapas, but more often than not you’re going to get some truly standout dishes. At night, the place is dimmed and lit mainly by candlelight with guests often see indulging in plate after plate (and wine after wine). By day, it’s a completely different story with sunlight streaming in through the many windows and the place becoming a competitor to the ever popular Sayers across the road.
Jeremy and I woke on Saturday for some last minute father’s day shopping. We both wanted to go to Black Plastic (or rather he did and I was keen to go to Hunter next door to look at shoes since I’d scored myself some gorgeous new leather boots at 40% off the week before). So after shopping we decided to stop by Duende for brunch.
Unlike the waiting line out the front of Sayers, Duende actually had a couple tables available which I actually find surprising because the breakfasts I’ve had here have been pretty great in the past. We sit down and place our beverage orders – a Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice ($7) for each of us. They come out as cute as buttons in mini milk bottles (seems to be the trend these days) with barbershop pole reminiscent paper straws. I love the look of these, but I do find that they can go soggy with use (in saying that I have some of these at home haha!).
The breakfast menu, much like the standard tapas menu, changes often. In fact as I scan the options I don’t see anything that was available last time I was here. I like that – it gives regulars more reason to come back so they can have some variety, though it does mean if you have an absolute knock out dish it might not be there again.
Strangely Jeremy’s also torn, which is unlike him. Normally he settles on his dishes pretty quickly but on this occasion he’s eying up the Beans, Chorizo, Manchego and Eggs, though ends up deciding on the Eggs Benedicto ($17). A spanish twist on a traditional breakfast dish!
It comes out as two char grilled slices of oiled sourdough; topped high with slices of jamon serrano, poached eggs and hollandaise with a twist oozing over the ingredients. I’m curious about the hollandaise and after sampling a bite, I note that it has strong spices mixed in. It reminds me a little of the harissa hollandaise at Typika.
The dish is beautiful, the ingredients well seasoned and balanced. I’m pleased to see as Jeremy cuts into the egg, yolk spills out everywhere with aplomb. The jamon serrano (insert drool here) is melt in your mouth and all kinds of phenomenal. It reminded me just how much I love cured meats (and will be buying some this weekend!). The only downfall of this dish is the bread. It’s virtually impossible to cut into, leaving Jeremy to tear at it awkwardly. But that said, the overall level of this dish was delicious.
My corn fritters come out on a round board like Jeremy’s dish. It’s two fritters, balancing on top of a thick slick of chipotle, tomato salad on one side, a smear of sour cream and topped with a rocket salad. A little squeeze of lime over the top and it’s ready to eat.
I love corn fritters. We make them at home sometimes and spend the day munching on them with smoked salmon, sour cream and dill. Yum! And while I usually prefer not to order things I cook, I really wanted to try Duende’s version, which I’m glad I did.
It’s such a fresh dish. The corn fritters are actually more corn than anything else; sweet and zingy with a nice edge from the coriander in the batter. I love the addition of the sour cream and salad components which enhance the depth of flavour in the chipotle sauce.
Though it doesn’t look it, I actually find myself getting full pretty quickly and abandon the dish for Jeremy to take over (happily).
At $49 for a breakfast, it’s definitely on the expensive side but it’s pretty much what I expect when we go out these days for the first meal of the day. The food at Duende doesn’t disappoint but what I do find slightly irksome is the service.
While all the staff are extremely lovely, there’s sometimes a lacking service focus. We placed our drink orders and received them, but waited about 20 minutes before someone came to take our food order. And when we went to pay, we were given the bill at the till, but then our server walked off even though I was holding money in my hand. Small things, but had they not happened, I would have happily said this was a perfect day out.
That said, I will still repeat to anyone that asks, Duende is one of my favourite places in Perth. And while there is a never ending list of places to try, sometimes you just need to go somewhere you know will hit the spot. Which this place does, every time.