Back when I was in my early twenties, I used to drive everywhere and anywhere. This included trekking out to Kalamunda to get my hair done (back before my salon Pierrots opened another branch in Mount Lawley), though sadly there were no cafes worth making a pitstop at nearby. But times really have changed since those days and now the suburb has a few different eateries that have built themselves quite a reputation. The newest one – Mason & Bird.
With my friend Bryony returning from Europe in the last couple of weeks, we set aside some time on a Sunday to head over there to check it out after hearing some rave reviews. The owners Matt Nguyen, Jaclyn Noel and Brad Johnston stem from the silver service world, with the latter previously working as a chef at Print Hall and the former two managers at Rockpool.
There’s a real community feel to the venue and the fit out is warm and welcoming. Heavy use of wood, greenery and the aroma of Little Owl Roasting Company coffee fill the air.
The menu offers all day brunch in the form of burgers, toasties, paleo waffles, housemade cocoa pops and some serious contenders in the pasta department. We were quick to decide on sharing two dishes – pan roasted gnocchi ($22.00) and braised lamb pappardelle ($24.00). I also added on a Simara organic matcha latte ($5.00) with almond milk ($0.60).
The pappardelle was beautiful. Really, that’s the most appropriate way to explain our first bites of food at Mason & Bird. Silky smooth sheets of al dente pasta were folded gently over lamb so tender it lived up to the cliche of being melt in your mouth. With a lovely pool of sauce gathering at the bottom and accompanying mushrooms and spinach, and the generous grating of parmesan over the top, it was so hearty and warming – yet refined.
This is the sort of food I love. Executed textbook perfect, with a clear understanding of food and yet not overly complicated. It’s approachable, tasty and would stand strong on any menu. Definitely a winner.
However as morish as the lamb dish was, the pan roasted gnocchi with cauliflower, almond and white balsamic made every second in the car worthwhile. I’m a huge gnocchi fan as it is, and this was eye-rollingly good. Buttery little potato pieces were just the thing to swish through the creamy yet light sauce.
Tasting this sent me back years ago when Cantina 663 was at it’s prime and I had my first ever bite of pan fried gnocchi. It completely had me hooked back then – and I’ve been systematically munching my way through Perth’s offerings since then.
The white balsamic sauce was sharp and well balanced to counter the fat content of the other ingredients on the plate. Combined with the crunch of the nuts, it was texturally and flavourfully a perfect storm.
We scraped clean every last crumb, every last slick of sauce – it was all so enjoyable. Mason & Bird is a great new small business and I was pleased to see they’re sourcing local WA ingredients from Sunnydale Dairy, Artisan Tea Co, Sebastian Butches, New Norcia Bakery and Maida Vale Natural honey. I’m all about supporting small and local businesses, so that was the cherry on what I felt was a wonderful sundae.
Do yourself a favour… get in your car, crank up the tunes and head over to Kalamunda’s newest hot spot asap. And order the gnocchi – definitely order that incredible gnocchi.