It’s no secret I’m a big fan of The Standard. John Parker’s resident Northbridge venue is bright, airy and with Chef Chase Weber at the helm is producing some seriously delicious bites. So when they opened Halford Bar – their darker, sexier cocktail bar in Perth, I found myself fast becoming a regular indulging in their specialty drinks and toasties on steroids. And now JP has added another destination to his impressive portfolio, Saint Larry Cafe at the base of City of Perth’s new library in Cathedral Square.
Sun-kissed buildings line the perimeter of Cathedral Square, and even as the watch hand is approaching 12pm, there was a lovely cool air and beams of light illuminating sections of the area while shadow stole others.
I’d actually been there only hours before in the morning after dinner at Petition and more south side cocktails than I’d like to admit in Halford’s velvety plush lounge. So my stomach was feeling particularly rumbly and ready to eat all the things.
Stepping into the new library I was blown away by the fit out. Light wood, grey textures and slight pops of teal lit up the room, with the cafe reaping the benefits of being situated alongside floor to ceiling windows.
When my food squad (Laura and Bryony) arrived, we poured over the menu greedily to decide what to order. We all had our eyes on different items – so like true friends we ordered a large selection for us to share.
The menu is simple and designed to suit both people using the library’s facilities (you can buy your food and take it inside with you – love it!) and surrounding CBD workers. Think salads and things with bread, but pimped up in a way that makes them appeal to the foodie in us all.
The tempura local fish of the day with minted peas, butter crunch lettuce, preserved lemon and dill labne on brioche ($14.00) immediately jumped out to me on the menu. Brioche (aka butter). Tick. Fried fish. Tick. Labne. All the ticks! I was really insistent on this dish and I’m so glad I was.
Hand on my heart this was so damn good. Crunchy, steaming hot fish. Well seasoned and then creamy and fresh from the other ingredients. As I like to say to my partner Jeremy – I’m kind of a big dill… it’s one of my favourite herbs and I adore the flavour of it in a combination like this. Really smart, and for me a real standout on the menu.
The corned beef, pickled cucumber, fontina cheese, mustard leaf, salted red cabbage and russian dressing on sourdough ($13.00) was recommended to us as one for the meat lovers. Fresh bread is an absolute must for this kind of sandwich and this delivered, with generous folds of cold meat piled high inside.
Well thought out, with the bursts of acidity and salt, then the delicate cheese. Tasty and enjoyable, though not quite as impressive as the fish. However if I worked in the city – I would be the size of a house if I were eating tempura every day so this is a good substitute when you want be on the healthier side.
As morishly good as the tempura, the roasted chicken thigh with korean barbecue sauce, fresh herbs, green mango, cucumber, peanuts and crispy shallots on ciabatta ($12.00) is crazy. It’s like an ode to The Standard’s famed chicken grill dish, with similar flavours and ingredients but swapping out the noodles for bread.
Juicy and messy, you definitely need some napkins for this but it’s worth the effort. The meat is sliced thin, melting in your mouth and leaving a sugary hit that’s also richly umami. I love the nod to Asian ingredients, and the bursts of freshness from the bundles of herbs throughout. It’s funny when you say a sandwich was good people tend to give you a strange look but this was definitely a show stopper.
From the open toast section of the menu, we just had to order the torn fig with jamon serrano, whipped ricotta and candied pecans on sourdough ($10.00). Fig season is ending so soon, and this is a beautiful and light dish that could be enjoyed at breakfast or lunch.
Sometimes I worry with these kinds of flavours that it will be too sweet, but they’ve done really well to balance it out. There is a saccharine quality to each bite, however there’s also saltiness, creaminess and crunch. I love ricotta and it’s so harmonious with fruits like figs.
Look familiar? Why yes, another favourite from The Standard has found it’s way to this menu but with some tweaks to suit the environment. Beef carpaccio with wasabi cream, soy pearls, fried garlic, tatsoi and wakame seaweed ($12.00).
I already love this salad so knowing I can get an individual size one takeaway at any time now has presented a dangerous opportunity. This wouldn’t be enough to fill me up on it’s own but if you’re feeling greedy I think this with a roll or open toast slice would be just the thing to indulge in for a perfect lunch.
So much bread! Perhaps we over-ordered a little, but in the interest of blogging and really trying the menu offering we had to do… right?
Thank you to John Parker for inviting us down to dine at his new venue. And while the food alone was beautiful and worth the trip into the city, checking out the new library was also incredible to experience. I can imagine hiding away on one of the levels with my laptop or a book, whiling away the hours happily.