Established by industry professionals and husband wife duo Paulette and John Contessi in the heart of City Beach suburbia, Park & Vine is a welcome addition to the cafe and restaurant offering north of the river (outside of the city hub). Head Chef Daniel brings to the table extensive experience from overseas, as well as local haunts such as Amuse, No 4 Blake Street and The Standard.
And then there’s the produce – locally sought, from the likes of social enterprise Green World Evolution, The Grumpy Farmer, Michael Brothers and the Organic Loafers. On paper, it impressed – and when they hosted an intimate dinner to celebrate their launch just over one month after opening, I was eager to see if it translated into reality.
The dinner menu is modern Australian share plates, which is something a little different for the locals in City Beach. In respect of their neighbouring restaurants, they’ve decided that pizza, pasta and fish & chips will never feature on their menu which I really respect – they want to ensure that they’re supporting the growth of one another.
With a licence that allows people to drop in and enjoy a drink (hello $14 cocktails) without food, Paulette told us she has no issues with people lounging out front in the seats with a glass in hand, watching their kids on the playground opposite and enjoying take away food from one of the other venues. That’s something you don’t see often from restaurants, and I’m sure City Beach residents will really appreciate it.
The smoked trout schmear (spread) with caviar, creme fraiche with house-made rye & caraway crackers ($16.00) for me was one of the most memorable dishes of the evening. It was smooth, creamy and really celebrated the trout in each bite.
House chips with aioli ($9.00) utilise dutch cream potatoes sourced from a farmer in Manjimup, and paint a pretty picture with their skins attached. There’s a clear desire by the Park & Vine team to showcase West Australian produce where possible, and really respect the ingredients in the execution.
While chips are always a safe bet to impress, for me the chicken liver parfait profiteroles with black olive toffee, white chocolate & salmon caviar ($19.00) were another impressive offering – and right up my alley. I was happy to munch away on the extras that others at the table weren’t brave enough to try… after all parfait is easily one of my favourite things to eat.
Velvety smooth (and reminiscent of Chase’s parfait cigars with hibiscus gel that were on The Standard’s launch menu), the parfait filled the choux pastry similar to a beautiful custard would. The olive toffee was both sweet and salty, the white chocolate caramelised and scattered as crumbs to pick up in each bite. I thought it was a really playful, inventive way to twist a classic.
For those more inclined to some sneaky fried treats, the assorted deli board ($26.00) came chocked full of crispy and crunchy goods. The potato and crab cakes caught my eye, and I was quick to pounce on them to try.
The newest vegetarian dish of creamy white polenta chips, baby vegetables and onion & garlic cream was combined with some of Green World Evolution’s grown king oyster mushroom. It was definitely a match made in heaven, and is not out of place on the menu. I’m pretty sure non-vegos will still gobble this up because it’s really quite tasty and full of flavour – I mean, who doesn’t love polenta!
The pickled pear salad with raw sunflower seeds, walnuts, pepitas and goats yoghurt ($25.00) was sharp and acidic, but full of crunch and some creaminess thanks to the yoghurt. I’m a bit fan of nuts and seeds in salads, especially when they collect at the bottom soaking up all the dressing – it’s definitely worth grabbing a spoonful of all that pooled goodness.
With bao so hot right now, it’s not surprising to see Park & Vine produce their own version on the menu… though I often say I’m probably a harsher critic than most since my mum hails from the original home of these bad boys and I basically grew up with gwa bao in my mouth. But I’m pleased to say this one was really delicious!
Filled with a sticky, meaty Lao style pork kofta ($18.00), there was freshness from cucumber, mint and coriander, punchy ginger benihana, sesame, Korean BBQ sauce and puffed wild rice to provide some enjoyable crunch to each bite.
The silence around the table while we devoured these said it all really.
From the snacks menu, came out the theatrical Wagyu Beef Slider with cheese, Boston pickle, onion, mustard and tomato sauce ($10.00). The klosh was raised to release a beautiful aroma of smoke that was permeated into the slider. I’m used to my meat being a bit pinker in the middle, but the use of the marbled wagyu allowed the fat to keep it juicy and tender.
Thelittle Dog is another snack sized treat ($12.00 for two), with a snappy sausage nestled in a toasted bun, with sauerkraut, mustard and cheddar. Around this time, I was really starting to struggle eating! Thankfully there was just one more savoury dish to come… but it was a big one.
The slow cooked smoked BBQ Beef Brisket ($38.00) was a generous plate, piled with chargrilled corn and cajun butter, puffed pork crackling and Texas Sauce. Previously this was a dish for 3-4 people, but due to popular demand they scaled it back to make it more appropriate for a single diner or amongst a spread of share items.
While I enjoyed the meat, I would have liked it just a touch more tender. For the most part it ticked the box but I did get a couple chewier sections. But the corn was on the money, with that decadent butter and the aerated pork crackling which sizzled and dissolved on the tongue without leaving an oily residue.
With enough room to sneak in a couple cheeky bites of dessert, I pushed through to round out my meal on a sweet ending. The smashed cheesecake for me was the winner of the two, with a nice lemony flavour resounding throughout the creamy texture. The rum baba was light, though a touch dry in the centre. The accompanying ice-cream and smear of honey underneath were the ideal accompaniments and a nice tastebud pleasing addition.
It’s still early days for Park & Vine but after tasting the food at our intimate dinner, I think this definitely is a welcome addition to City Beach and to the Perth dining scene. With brunches now available (and knowing my love of gooey eggs), I’m confident I’ll be back to try it again to see if the experience matches the enjoyable dinner I was treated to.