For me, rainy days elicit no feeling of melancholy. Instead, there’s something a little blissful (and wistful) about them. Of being rugged up with scarves and boots and knits. Of nights in on the couch with Jeremy and our puppy Hugo. Of mornings where we just can’t bear to get out of bed and face the cold so we lie in reading books or just chatting, soaking in each other’s company. Yes… I am that strange beast that loves winter.
But while this time of the year has a tendency to lull me into days and nights at home, there’s only so long before the call of food wins and I shake off my hibernation haze and head out. Case and point – my recent excursion out to Nic and Kolo in Melville with my friends Ai-Ling and Lisa.
While most brunch venues about town on the weekend have a lengthy wait to get a table, we actually managed to snag one straight away. Perks of dining out in winter I think!
Once we were settled in and layers shed, we ordered our dishes. Ben’s big breakfast ($26.00) for Ai-Ling, nut and seed cracker with avocado, sliced beetroot and poached eggs ($18.00) plus a side of slab bacon ($5.50) for Lisa, and gluten free coastal crunch granola with house-made coconut yoghurt and poached fruit ($13.00) for me.
The standout on Ai-Ling’s plate was the croquette, which looked crisp and warming – just what your body craves on a cold winter’s morning. While I looked longingly at her plate, I still really enjoyed my granola. Crunchy and popping with sweetness from the stewed rhubarb, it was a good choice considering I was meant to be going to a lunch only a couple hours later.
Eggs on both Lisa and Ai-Ling’s plates were spot on for three of the four. Runny, yolky goodness with the exception of one which was completely cooked through. So for the most part it hit the mark, and I’m sure in the future they’ll nail the consistency.
All in all, the three of us agreed that the flavours and dishes were well excited, though definitely on the small side – especially for Lisa’s dish which was beefed up only by the addition of the slab bacon (which I thought was a well priced side). This is a trend I’m starting to see more and more… and I have to admit it devastates me. I know restaurants have pricey overheads, but small servings for high price tags – well hopefully we’ll see things taper off in the future.
After a relatively successful brunch outing, and hearing from my friends that they loved lunch, I decided to return for dinner one night with Jeremy and my mum as a post birthday celebration. Though it was a Saturday night, the restaurant was quiet when we arrived but full by the time we finished up. Lots of groups of diners who I got the impression were locals in the area.
The lighting was low and intimate, and with hungry bellies we dived in to ordering. First up, was the charcuterie board ($22.00) with house pickles, grissini, chorizo, schinkenspeck, pork rillette and a chilli & leek sausage. This was the standout for the evening – particularly the rillette, which was textured and flavoursome with the ideal amount of seasoning.
Our other entree was a special of the evening – fried chicken with hot sauce and aioli. While we questioned the amount of chicken inside the batter (in some cases it was minimal though the pieces with chunks of chicken were yum!), the flavour was super delicious. Crunchy, salty and not oily which ticks all the boxes. Definitely a winner, but again if they could work on the consistency that would elevate the overall experience.
For choosing their mains, both Jeremy and my mum decided that steak was on the cards since none of us eat it as often as we’d like. For my boy, it was the 250g South West ribeye ($37.00) while mum leaned towards the 200g flank steak ($26.00). Both came with a smoked soubise, caper butter and jus – which I found quite strange that it would come with three sauces… but no sides.
Maybe it’s me but this sparks a bit of a gear grinder in me. I’d much prefer a restaurant worked some salad or potatoes into the cost rather than have people need to add on sides themselves. It’s a poor customer experience, especially because at $37.00 to have a piece of steak with pureed onion and sauce is not enough for the price. Of course restaurants have pricey overheads these days, but it was just not ideal in our opinion and sullied the overall evening if I’m being completely honest.
Luckily mum decided to order a couple of sides so they shared the green salad with chardonnay dressing ($6.00) and hand cut chips with garlic aioli ($8.00). Great, crispy chips are always a crowd pleaser and these were no different. Perfect to mop through the delicious and deeply flavoured jus which was the best sauce on the plate. The meat was well rested and seasoned, juicy and cooked rare as requested. I did think the caper butter was a bit of a redundant addition though as the meat wasn’t hot enough for it to melt, leaving it to be pushed aside and ignored.
For my main, I eyed the gnocchi but decided to try something different. The squid ink pasta with Shark Bay crab, garlic, lemon, salsa verde and brioche crumb ($33.00) sounded cheffy but still punchy with flavours. I was excited for a pasta hit too!
What arrived was slightly confusing I have to say. I don’t like being negative, but the heavy water content swimming under my pasta left the noodles continuing to cook and they took on a rubbery consistency. The crab meat was beautifully delicate, and overall the plate was a strong combination of flavours. The brioche crumbs in particular were an enjoyable textural crunch!
After finishing our mains we decided to call it a night and skip dessert. We all felt like it was a bit of a up and down evening experience, with some really strong bites but some near misses too. While the flavours we all tasted were enjoyable and quite a good demonstration of the chef’s fine dining background, the actual execution didn’t quite hit the highs we’d hoped for. Some memorable bites (hello charcuterie and fried chicken), and ones that make me believe that with time and tweaks, it will be a solid Perth offering.