The Fishing Boat Harbour in Fremantle has long been a port of call for fresh fish n’ chips. I’d often wondered what popular eatery Char Char Bull offered, but we never quite resisted that golden-fried fish from its neighbours.
Now known as Char Char, the recently refurbished restaurant and bar is just as fresh as the fish next door. It’s probably more accurate to say re-built than refurbished, as the entire restaurant had been completely gutted. The new lounge bar area is perfect for a cheeky pre-dinner drink or two. They’ve done a tremendous job.
The modern dining room is bathed in light and enjoys views over the harbour. Our table on the window is a top spot for a little people-watching and we spy some kids fishing off the boardwalk, as well as gazing in amazement at boaties docking their yacht into a very tight space.
Service is efficient, despite the restaurant being full to the brim by 7pm. The dining room’s acoustics cope well. The restaurant’s lively atmosphere doesn’t become too noisy, whilst still maintaining a certain intimateness.
The extensive drinks menu features a vintage wine selection, lots of aperitifs to choose from and a fun cocktail list too. I’d like to see more drops available by the glass. My Willow Bridge “Rosa De Slana” Tempranillo Rose, from the Ferguson Valley, is dry for a rose. Knowing steak is in store for him, Chef chooses a full bodied Barossa shiraz, from the Torbreck vineyard.
We start with some share plates. Crisp croquettes ($13.50) are filled with pork cheek, smoked cheddar and spinach. The moreish morsels are delicious, dunked creamy lemon aioli.
Thinly sliced lime cured local kingfish ($21) is one of many gluten free options on the menu. It’s a delicate dish that is bursting with the flavours of hot wasabi cream, crisp green apple, parsley oil, sharp red radish and black sesame, which all marry together perfectly.
Moist pork belly ($19) is faultlessly cooked and served with pickled onion, crumbs of morcilla sausage, preserved lemon cauliflower and crispy sage. Service doesn’t feel rushed, though we don’t have to wait long till our mains arrive.
Chef chooses a man-sized ($55) 500g rib-eye, served on the bone for added flavour. The hand selected West Australian steak is cut from the rib-section and we’re told it has a good deal of fat marbling – fat is flavour after all. This nicely charred and rested steak is brimming with flavours. Chef lashes on copious amounts of creamy béarnaise sauce. Grill dishes are also accompanied by Char Char’s popular buttermilk mash, which is a little sour, but oh so tasty.
While Char Char specialises in char grilled meats, I can assure you their seafood dishes are just as mouth-watering. I choose the seafood risotto ($39) brimming with king prawns, tender baby squid and poached fish. Red pepper, salsa verde and fresh herbs give the risotto a real depth of flavour.
The choice of sides is a little more imaginative than the usual “seasonal steamed veg” options. Pan-fried baby zucchini ($7.50), with preserved lemon feta, hazelnuts, quinoa, parsley oil is to-die-for.
Cauliflower is sometimes an underrated veggie. Here it shines. The chermoula roasted cauliflower dish ($6.50) is crammed with flavours, with a generous dollop of hummus, toasted sunflower seeds, and roast lemon dressing.
For dessert our picks are the salted honey and walnut parfait ($16.50), another GF gem with flourless chocolate cake, burnt mandarin, and a bitter coffee cream.
Chef is a sucker for a sticky date pudding ($16). The comforting, sultry dessert is served with mascarpone ice cream, oat crumble and a salted toffee sauce.
New life has been breathed into Char Char – both in the venue and the menu. It’s well worth ditching your take away fish and chips for. If you were already a fan of Char Char, you can expect the same well cooked meats and seafood as before, with attentive service and top notch harbour side views – no bull.
At a glance
■ Char Char
44b Mews Road
Phone 9335 7666
■ Opening times
11am until late
value for money 4
■ style – Modern Australian
■ wine – Extensive drinks list. Local
favourites and interesting international
wines, beers and spirits.
■ Head Chef – Thomas Syvret
■ Owner – Brenden Jones
■ feel – fresh and inviting
■ wheelchair access – yes
Share $3.50 to $22
Main $36 to $120
Dessert $12 to $16.50
■ all in all – Much more than just an
up-market Steakhouse. Walk ins
welcome, though bookings are