Rustico Tapas & Bar – Rockingham

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Rústico Tapas & Bar on Urbanspoon

Rustico Tapas and Bar is on the Rockingham foreshore. I had a little look about before finding Rustico. There were lots of families enjoying the shady playgrounds dotted along the beachside park. The beach was gorgeous too, I was tempted to feel the white sand beneath my toes, but I had a lunch date! IMG_7498

I was meeting two of my besties Mrs C and Mrs H at Rustico Tapas for lunch. I was a tad early, so got chatting to one of the friendly waitresses, who was very welcoming and excited about yet another gold plate nomination. Rustico has won a wall full of awards. The restaurant first came to my attention when Rob Broadfield gave it a rave review. Since then, it’s been on my must try list. IMG_7529

The interior of Rustico is of course rustic! It had a Spanish vibe with colourful feature lights and artwork. I was one of the first to arrive, but in no time the entire restaurant was full to bursting – this is a very popular spotIMG_7504

My two lovely friends are also mammas to be, so that was taken into consideration when picking our share dishes and drinks. We all opted for mocktails, picking a couple of virgin Mojitos and a fruity Barcelona Sunrise ($10). IMG_7507

We started lunch with a dish of more-ish mixed marinated olives ($9). IMG_7508

The salad ($15) of pear, rocket, parmesan and candied walnuts was a delicious combination. It was coated in a seeded mustard dressing. We all devoured the generous portion. IMG_7511

The pork belly ($23) was scrumptious. A collective “mmmm” was heard, as we took the first bite. It was extremely tender and packed full of porky flavour. The crackle was spot on too. The pork was accompanied by apple puree and a sticky pedro ximinez – a Spanish grape variety used to make a sweet dark sherry. We’re all big fans of pork belly and there was some discussion as to who should be lucky enough to eat the last piece!IMG_7512

The barramundi dish ($24) was also excellent and perfectly cooked – the fish moist and flaky with a perfectly crisp skin. It sat on a bed of sauce vierge (olive oil, lemon, diced tomato and basil) and creamed leek. IMG_7514

The nero paella ($28) was sensational. The rice and everything in it (like chorizo) was jet black, coated in squid ink. It was very tasty and topped with squid and scallops.IMG_7516

By this time we were felling full, but decided to be a little naughty and share some churros ($14). The Spanish doughnuts were perfectly cooked. Crisp on the outside, a little gooey in the middle and came with two dipping sauces – a white choc butterscotch and dark chocolate. Devine! IMG_7521

We all absolutely loved the food at Rustico. It was top notch produce, cooked exceedingly well. We all left with full bellies and for $49pp (food and drinks) I thought it was great value. The service is also excellent – friendly and knowledgeable – you get the impression the staff really love working there. For me, it was a 160km round trip there and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Most definitely worth the trip – if you live nearby I am SO jealous!

We were sat near the kitchen and each time a dish got popped up on the pass I would have serious plate envy! I will return to try out more of the delicious looking food – next time I’ll make sure I’m not driving, so I can enjoy some sangria too!

Good luck to Rustico in the gold plates this week! Whether they retain their gold plate or not – Rustico Tapas is an absolute winner anyway!

Check out more at http://www.rusticotapas.com.auIMG_7505

 

Homestead Brewery at Mandoon Estate – Swan Valley

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Homestead Brewery on Urbanspoon Mandoon Estate on Urbanspoon

For years I’ve rattled on about not having a really uber-cool venue in the Swan Valley like you’d find in the Margaret River region. We’ve enjoyed countless holidays down south at places like Eagle Bay Brewing Co, Cheeky Monkey Brewery, Colonial and many more. They are all state of the art, modern buildings and cater very well for families. I heard months ago that Mandoon, a small family run estate, were expanding and had been keeping my eye on the building progress – it opened in mid-September.

IMG_7299As we drove down the long driveway, the large Mandoon building loomed over its vineyards. It’s reminiscent of the immense Duckstein Brewery on Caves Road. We were there for a spot of lunch and though it was midweek it was pretty busy, being the school holidays and a beautiful sunny day.IMG_7307

Mandoon is home to a cellar door, function centre, fine dining restaurant and a microbrewery – Homestead Brewery was our first stop. You can drink and dine inside the brewery, which is shiny and new. It’s a lovely view from the decking overlooking the vineyards. IMG_7352

We opted to sit “out the back” in the shady beer garden. There are loads of picnic benches and its right next to the shaded playground – which was a big hit with Little Chef. There were a few soccer and crickets games being played on the expansive, lush lawns. It had a lovely family atmosphere.IMG_7325

Michael Hartnell is Mandoon’s Executive Chef. The globe-trotting chef has worked in restaurants in London and on the prestigious 5th Avenue, New York City. Most recently he worked at renowned Eureka 89, Melbourne. Michael has gained a reputation for innovative dishes – the degustation menu for Mandoon’s fine dining restaurant looks divine.IMG_7346

We ordered our food inside at the bar. Chef had a pint of the “Kaisers Choice” a German style beer. Normally he’d go for a larger, but that’s not available just yet. Within 15 mins or so our food arrived. It looked delicious!IMG_7312

I chose the pulled pork tacos ($25), though I did think the pork was a bit “wet” and had juice running down my arm! The apple and fennel slaw was creamy and though I wasn’t 100% sold on the flavour of the pork (which I’d put down to personal taste), I did like the tacos.IMG_7331

Both Chef and Little Chef had pizzas. Little chef had a Margarita ($10) from the little people meal’s menu, which has a choice of four kids favourites.

Chef thought the confit lamb pizza ($24) was excellent. The thin and fresh base was also topped with red onion, feta and a mint yogurt.IMG_7333

On the weekends the beer garden bar opens and you can also order spit roasted meat rolls with salad for $15 from the deli.IMG_7344

We really enjoyed our first visit to Mandoon Estate and the Homestead Brewery. This is just what the Swan Valley has been missing. We absolutely love Mandoon and can’t wait to return – though I am torn between the dego menu at the beautiful fine dining restaurant or the roast meat roll!! What’s a chef’s wife to do?!IMG_7361 IMG_7355

Harvest Espresso – Vic Park

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Harvest Espresso on Urbanspoon

I have wanted to try Harvest Espresso for a long time. One thing or another has kept me away – it felt like I’d never get there. Finally though I did! I met K, one of my high school mates there.  He’s a chef too, so I was interested to see what he thought of this super popular Vic Park cafe.

IMG_7246We found the little café next to the Vic Park Hotel. The teeny tiny room was very busy for a weekday lunch – though I doubt it could seat more than 30 covers. We were happy to wait a few minutes for a table and in no time we were seated in the window.

I looked over the menu, all the food seemed to fit into the all day brunch category – so it was right up my alley! I spied a great looking mushroom dish on the next table. I figured it must be good, as all six people on the table were eating it! We ordered at the counter.

IMG_7237I’m a bit partial to a chai latte. I picked an iced choc chai from the extensive coffee list. It was pretty dam good.

There was a warm atmosphere in the small café – the only thing I could fault was the constant tap, tap, tap of the chef’s knives chopping away in the kitchen. But given the size of the place, it couldn’t be helped. A plus to the kitchen only being meters away was that all the amazing cooking smalls wafted our way!

They say you eat with your eyes first, well things were looking very tasty indeed!! The plating for both dishes was pretty as a picture.

IMG_7240Chef K was very pleased with his choice of salt cod fritters ($22.50). They sat on a bed of fluffy scrambled eggs garnished with an apple witlof salad, nori, fennel, sour crème. And since it’s such an attractive dish, here’s another pic…IMG_7241

IMG_7242I chose the gourmet mixed mushrooms ($19.50). Two slow poached eggs oozed through the mushrooms sautéed in a tarragon sauce, crunchy croutons and pea shoots. Toasted rye was on the side – perfect for soaking up the delicious creamy sauce. The scrumptious dish was garnished with nasturtiums – edible flowers.

The consensus was that we’d had a very tasty feed! We’d absolutely visit Harvest Espresso again.IMG_7253

 

West End Deli – Leederville

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West End Deli on Urbanspoon

I’ll whinge about being married to a chef sometimes. I’ll have my own little pity party about never getting to see him, as he works such awful, unsociable hours. A silver lining to this is that Chef and I do have a weekday off together. We go out for a coffee and lunch, just the two of us, whilst Little Chef is at school. Just for a few hours we can forget the worries of the world and wether our son is eating his vegetables and sitting nicely.

I’d love to say that Chef and I have frequented West End Deli for years. It’s the kind of place that makes me wish we lived in Perth’s inner suburbs. However, this is our very first visit to the popular dining spot.IMG_6903

West End Deli, on the corner of a quiet suburban Leederville street, has a rich food history. It has been home to a butchers, general store, café and Greek deli in the last 80 years. Chef-Owner Justin Peters, formerly Head Chef at Duende and Il lido, opened West End Deli in 2008 with his wife Christine.IMG_6907

We’re greeted with a smile and seated at a table by the window. Luckily for us, a few tables are saved for walk-ins. Today we are feeling spontaneous (or really rather unorganised) and hadn’t booked. I would definitely recommended booking, it’s a busy place. The surroundings are eclectic, with a rustic vibe. A light fitting made of chairs looks cool, as does a very distressed looking feature wall, with the paint almost peeling off.IMG_6912

The service is friendly and knowledgeable. I take the waitresses’ recommendation and order the ribs. I have the strawberry and watermelon “juice of the day” which is sweet and refreshing. It’s a bustling place and we nibble on some olives and a freshly baked baguette whilst waiting for our mains to arrive.IMG_6909

I rate the scrumptious spiced lamb ribs ($24) amongst the best I’ve ever had. Though there is something so very satisfying about diving into a plate of ribs with your bare hands and getting covered in sticky sauce – this rib meat is so tender, it falls off the bone with barely a touch of my fork. That’s a much more ladylike way to eat anyway! The lamb is positively mouth-watering. The meat is so full of flavour. Each and every mouthful a fragrant hit of cumin and star anise. I enjoy the paper thin zucchini, radish and mint salad, which is a medley of sweet and peppery flavours. A chimchurri sauce is on the side.IMG_6919

I overhear the man on the next table having some food envy and eyeing off my delish dish – he orders the ribs too.

As Chef eats his pork sandwich, he is quiet. Almost unnaturally so. I start to worry. Does he like his lunch? It takes until almost the last morsel of his open sandwich has been consumed for him to say “that was the absolute best pork sandwich I’ve ever had!” I’ve been holding my breath in anticipation. I exhale a big sigh of relief. I’ve enjoyed my lunch so much, I’d want it to be a unanimous decision that West End Deli gets the big thumbs up.

I gingerly ask for a bite. He doesn’t want to part with a single crumb. For “tasting purposes” Chef begrudgingly lets me share in the pork-fest. I have to agree with him, it is a superb sarnie. The pork is cured in sugar, then cooked sous vide for 14 hours, resulting in a moist and tender piece of meat. It is topped with a sweet pear, caraway and fennel relish which has a kick of ginger. That all sits upon a bed of greens, atop a toasted baguette ($23).IMG_6915

Bearing in mind that Chef is a little old school, not really a hipster type, West End Deli really resonates with him. He can see the excellent technique in the cooking of the dishes. It’s not your typical suburban café by any means, more of a neighbourhood bistro, but yet it is still well priced and relaxed. Chef thinks the coffee is top notch too and grabs another “for the road”. IMG_6911

West End Deli is open breakfast, lunch and dinner. Chef and I are both very keen to try their offerings for the other meals of the day, seeing that we relished their lunch menu so much. This was certainly the first visit of many.IMG_6923

At a glance

■ West End Deli

95 Carr Street

Leederville

Phone 9328 3605

■ Opening times

Breakfast & Lunch

Tues to Sun, 7am to 3pm

Dinner Wed to Sat from 6pm

■ Rating out of 10

food 8.5

service 9

ambience 8

value for money 8

■ style – Bistro

■ wine – BYO

■ Chef – Justin Peters

■ Owners – Christine and Justin Peters

■ feel – cool café by day,

sophisticated bistro by night

■ wheelchair access – yes

■ cost – brunch $7 – $28

Dinner – $23 entrée

$33 main / $18 dessert

■ all in all – delishious

food – cooked well with

great technique and seasonal

produce. Fab coffee too.

Gipsy Boy Cafe & Boutique – Joondalup

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Gipsy Boy Boutique on Urbanspoon

It excites me when somewhere new opens up in Joondalup. I hope that it’s a little piece of Beaufort Street – without the 60km round trip. We live near Joondalup, which is often referred to as WA’s second city. It has pretty much everything you need – except an established, quality dining scene like inner city suburbs Leederville, Subiaco or Mount Lawley. Gipsy Boy is a welcome addition to Joondalup and could well become a favourite local haunt of ours.IMG_7163

Sisters, Kacie and Bekki opened Gipsy Boy in May. The vintage-styled café is brimming with old style décor, teapots, lampshades and comfy chairs. There’s a little outside courtyard too. Gipsy Boy is open for breakfast, lunch and “coffee and treats” – the mars bar slice looked particularly scrumptious!IMG_7156

The café also doubles as a boutique. The boutique stocks ladies clothes with popular labels like Mink Pink and some gorgeous accessories too.IMG_7152IMG_7151

The three of us visited Gipsy Boy for breakfast last week – it was so convenient only being 5 minutes from home. We sat in the window, overlooking the residential tree-lined Regents Park Road, just north of Joondalup Hospital.IMG_7162

Chef thought the Breakfast Wrap ($10) stuffed with buttery scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese and tomato was a really tasty way to start the day.IMG_7145

I had the Avocado Bruschetta ($12), since I’m quite the avocado addict. Chunky avocado, tomato, red onion and soft cheese sat upon toasted bread. It was super fresh and well-seasoned. I really enjoyed it.IMG_7147

Little Chef tucked into his favourite brunch treat, a fresh ham and cheese croissant with a baby chino.IMG_7146

We think the coffee is top notch too. At Gipsy Boy they use a locally roasted blend from Micrology Coffee Roasters. They have a good selection of tea too.untitled2

We ate from the weekday menu – the weekend menu is a bit more substantial. I actually discovered Gipsy Boy through a scrumptious looking Instagram pic of their Nutella French toast – which is available on their weekend menu – I have to head back on a weekend for that! The breakfast enchiladas look pretty tasty too.IMG_7166

Welcome to Joondalup Gipsy Boy!

Follow Gipsy Boy at https://www.facebook.com/gipsyboyboutiqueIMG_7170

Papparich – Northbridge

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Papparich Northbridge on Urbanspoon 

For me food is often nostalgic and holds memories from celebrations, holidays and my childhood. I have quite a sentimental attachment to satay. Years back, before I was the chef’s wife, I discovered the nutty meat-on-a-stick during an Asian holiday. It was the first holiday that Chef and I had gone on together – I’d kind of gate crashed his family holiday. We were in Singapore for Food Asia – the region’s largest food expo and hot kitchen comp. Chef’s Dad, Pappa Chef, had visited the lion city many times and knew all the best street food spots. He introduced us to the Satay Club at Clarke Quay – there we feasted on the best satays I’ve ever had – even to this day.

We were kindly invited for lunch by Papparich, the brand new Malaysian chain restaurant in Northbridge. I had heard that it was causing quite a buzz, with large queues forming down James Street most days. So I thought it would be a good idea to book an early lunch, to avoid the crowds. So I was very surprised that when we arrived at 11.30am, the restaurant was already full to bursting.IMG_7052

We were taken to a window seat and given our menus to look through. It’s an extensive menu full of Malay favourites; Roti Canai, Hainan bread with Kaya and butter, Satay, Nasi Lemak, Fried Kuey Teow, Curry Laksa, Chicken Rice, Mee Goreng, Ice Kacang and much more besides. The menu has photos of each dish, which was helpful, since I’m not familiar with most Malay cuisine. We were also given a notepad – you write up your own order here – then press the “doorbell” button on your table when you’re ready to send it to the open kitchen.IMG_7040

The food came out in record time. No sooner had our order been picked up from the table, plates and trays started arriving a mere 5 minutes later. Now maybe it was blindingly obvious, but it wasn’t to me, that the food didn’t necessarily come out on the order that it’s written on the notepad. Whoops! So instead of enjoying our satays and roti for entrée, I got what I’d envisioned was my main first. Soon our entire table was brimming with food as it all seemed to come out at once.

Mixed Satay – 6 pieces ($13.90) 3 beef sicks and 3 chicken sticks are marinated in turmeric, galangal and lemongrass. They didn’t quite live up to my very high Singaporean benchmark – I thought the meat could have been a bit tenderer. I couldn’t get enough of the more-ish satay sauce which is deliciously chunky.IMG_7048

Chef chose freshly-made Roti Canai ($12.90) which was filled with onion and egg. The bread was served just right – soft in the middle, a little crisp and crunchy on the outside. On the side was a chicken curry, mango flavoured dhal (lentil curry) and sweet chilli sauce.IMG_7047

Our drinks then arrived – Chef chose the Lychee Soda. It turned out way too sweet for him to take more than a few sips. I tried it too and agreed it was incredibly sweet! As someone with a bit of a Milo habit – I just HAD to order the iced Milo Dinosaur – which was heaped with spoonfuls of milo!IMG_7045

By this time I was starting to struggle a bit with the food – not knowing how the portion sizes were and all the food coming at once didn’t give me time for a breather! The queue outside was growing and people were standing on the other side of the widow watching us eat – which I found a bit disconcerting!!

There was a lot happening on my plate! I had the Pappa Special Biryani ($15.90) -. In the middle of the plate sits a mound of fragrant rice, prepared with cardamon, cloves and other herbs and spices. On the side were fried chicken, crispy skin hid the super moist meat underneath. Also on the brimming plate was sambal eggplant (which had a little too much fish sauce for my liking), sambal prawns and a pappadum.IMG_7043

Chef really fancied noodles, but all the Fried Mee ($13.90) dishes came with Prawns, which he’s not a fan of. At the time of ordering he noted “chicken not prawns please” on the note pad and bobs your uncle – out came a chicken fried mee. He enjoyed it and noted that it tasted just like a really good fried mee dish he’d had years ago.IMG_7051

Chef and I liked Papparich – though we both left feeling there was something that we missed – it is incredibly popular. It’s cheap and cheerful – the food is very reasonably priced. We didn’t LOVE the food, but I’d put that down to personal taste more than anything.

Papparich is also opening an outlet in Carousel (Cannington) soon. Thanks again Papparich for the invite – we enjoyed checking it out :)IMG_7039a

Down the Hatch – Tucker & Liquor

IMG_7188Down the Hatch - Tucker & Liquor on Urbanspoon

Down the Hatch is a new pub/small bar that has recently opened down a little laneway in central Joondalup. The interior is an industrial chic style – industrial light fittings, round wooden tables and stools made from cable reels and corrugated iron. The bar has an Aussie/British vibe. IMG_7206The lady you’ll find pulling the pints was formally the very popular bar manager from the Kangaroo Arms – owner Nichola Hatcher. The former Brit is always up for a bit of friendly banter over the bar. There is a good range of beers on tap – from Stella to WA’s Colonial Brewery to Guinness and many more.IMG_7171 The food on the menu is mainly to share. The lunch menu, offering pub favourites like steak sandwiches and fish and chips changes regularly. We popped down there the week it opened for some nibbles and a few cheeky drinks with one of our very favourite couples Mr & Mrs G. There’s also an outdoor seating area – we sat in the more formal dining room, away from the bustling bar.IMG_7078

To start with we shared a seasoned bucket of popcorn ($3.50). We all thought this was a tasty bar snack – it didn’t last long!IMG_7071

The tasty chicken croquets ($11) were bursting with paprika and thyme.IMG_7187

Chef and I both love sliders. We had two fillings – beef, chipotle and Swiss cheese & Pork and apple slaw. For $11 per slider – we’d like to see toasted brioche buns though.IMG_7076The calamari panzanella ($11) was oh so soft, it just melted in the mouth.IMG_7191It’s great to see a new bar opening in Joondalup. So far there’s not been much of a knock on effect from the small bar explosion in Perth and the inner suburbs. A few more little places like this and Joondalup will be definitely heading in the right direction.IMG_7216