For the past couple weeks while driving in to work I have heard Nova’s regular mentions of The Crown Casino’s new gastropub, The Merrywell. It’s ‘dude food’ that has a clever chef twist on it – or rather, two chef’s clever twists since it’s the creation of The King of Casual, Sammy de Marco and his partner Grant MacPherson. Their skills are pure New York elite class and they’ve come to Perth with some classic pub dishes that are just completely turned on their head.
I have to admit, I’ve been drooling over the menu for weeks before it even opened. But finally, I found my way down there on Friday night with Vee, Linda and Jay. The perfect way to kick off the long weekend in my opinion.
The decor is lovely – very bistro like. It’s bustling, funky and quite beautiful. There’s an organic quality to the layout; and if you sit on the outer level, you’re in a prime position to view the bar on the other side, plus staff walking by with various delicious plates of food. I so badly want to eat everything on the menu!
We decide to share, staying mainly in the menu’s area of share plates – for which there is a huge selection. Vee and I choose all the dishes, which Linda and Jay are happy with our selection. We arrived first so have been staring hungrily at the food on our nearby diner’s table. We must look like the biggest creeps, but we just can’t bring ourselves to care.
The Mexican Tuna Parfait ($24) is very much in order. Beautiful fresh tuna which has been diced and cured, it has a thin layer of sour cream and guacamole on top. Served next to it is a cool little basket of some crunchy, moorish tortilla chips. It’s fresh, cool and well seasoned. Even those with me who aren’t big fans of raw fish are loving the taste.
We follow it up with two servings of the Mac & Cheese Bites ($15 per serve). It’s eight cubes of deep fried macaroni and cheese, accompanied by house HP dip. They taste… amazing. I’m actually torn because I don’t want to tell people how great they are because then it will get even harder to get in here. But I guess that’s just how this game goes, and I can’t bring myself to lie.
The bites are oozy and gooey inside; the macaroni chewy and flavoursome. And that HP sauce!!! Yes that’s three exclamation marks because it is just THAT good. It is so delicious, sweet but sour, and just elevates the entire snack all together. I want to buy bottles of it.
We decide to share a jug of Strawberry Fields ($35 for half a litre, $55 for a litre) which has gin, aperol, strawberry liquer, lemon and soda. The presentation is great – the jug is in the form of a giant jam jar; and the liquid swans about vibrantly with slices of strawberries in tow. I just wish there had been some lemon wedges and more strawberries to improve the freshness of the drink. However it does tastes really sweet and delicious, so I’m just being greedy!
The Twin Pretzel Dogs ($16) were featured on Nova’s breakfast show and one bite in I can see why. The pretzel buns are sourced specially from a local bakery;the sausages from a nearby butcher. There’s love in the ingredients and they’re cooked perfectly. The combination of chilli, cheddar and watermelon & corn relish is something I would normally question, but it hits the nail on the head. It’s vibrant, playful and I think my eyes actually rolled back in my head after my first bite. Every chew tastes something different and the hush that settles at our table (normally we don’t shut up) is indicative of how much we’re all enjoying it.
I also like how the grease proof paper they sit on is branded with the Merrywell’s logo. Can you tell I work in Marketing or what!
The Lollipop Buffalo Wings ($21) are adorable and smell delicious. They come with a blue cheese fondue sauce and celery sticks. First bite in these little chicken wings catch me off guard – they’re spicy! Hot, fiery and incredibly addictive. They pass a wave of heat over my mouth that is wonderful, before that creamy blue cheese washes over my palate richly. I can see these being a dangerous addiction; days in the summer sun outside in the beer garden with plates of these. I’ll need to monitor my consumption I think! (Sorry for the terrible photo, as you can imagine I was just too eager to grab one and start eating).
Because we’re feeling slightly guilty over how much ‘dude food’ we’re eating, we choose a side salad of Rocket and Parmesan ($8). There’s not much to say here because of it’s simplicity. The rocket is fresh and peppery; the parmesan grated to a fine dust that coats the vegetable needily. It’s a nice cut through the greasier items we’ve chosen.
Our final savoury dish for the night is from the ‘Josper & Beecher Cookin’ section of the menu. It’s the BBQ ‘JD & Coke’ Ribs ($32).
First off, wow. Yup I said it and I need to say it again, wow wow wooooow. While you can’t really taste the Jack Daniels (phew a little voice inside me says), the ribs are incredible. They’re cooked so well that the meat literally falls off the bone. It’s sweet, sticky and very tasty. I would have been very happy to just have this all to myself it was so wonderful! The corn that accompanies it is inspired by Mexican street corn; flavoured with spices and a light scattering of melting cheese. And then it comes with a nice wedge of juicy and sweet watermelon – just like what you would imagine at a backyard BBQ in America. It’s clever and worth every cent. I was literally licking my fingers clean from touching the ribs.
So far our experience at The Merrywell is phenomenal. The food is at a level I hadn’t even considered despite my eagerness to try this place. In fact the only downfall I came across on this night is that the staff are a little over-keen in their desire to clear the table. We had to stop them quite a few times from taking our plates which actually had food on them! And it wasn’t like we were sitting there not touching the food at all, we were mid-fork in the air. By the third time, we couldn’t help but snap at the waiter to leave it because it was getting a little frustrating. Not the ideal situation!
With our bellies full we sit happily; pointing out how well branded and designed everything is here. I even manage to remember to snap a couple shots off of the venue while Linda flags down a waitress to take our dessert order. It seems a difficult task despite their eagerness to take our plates away, they don’t seem to be around to take our orders. Finally she has success though – hurrah!
Jay declines dessert, though we force him to have a bite of each when they arrive. So between us three girls we choose two of the ‘desserts in jars’ ($9 each).
Vee selects the Apple Crumble, which is cool custard and soft apple covered in a dry but buttery crumble. It’s cold and enjoyable in every bite right until we’re scraping the bottom of the jar.
Our final dessert is the one both Linda and I had our eye on – the Lamington Trifle. I WILL be ordering this again the next time I go back.
It’s decadent layers of cream, coconut, strawberries and lamington. It’s love in a jar and I can’t stop myself from speeding through the serving. I particularly like the actual chunks of strawberries that sit in the jam. I’m now wishing we had ordered our own dessert servings – even though I’m ridiculously full.
I’m so happy we got to The Merrywell in it’s early days so I know just how good dude food can be. This venue looks impressive and the food matches this level. I just hope that the service issues are fixed up so that I can go back without the fear of my half eaten dish being taken away from me.