New Normal, Subiaco

IMG_9572Subi is on the up – home again to some of Perth’s best restaurants. LuLu La Delizia was recently named Australia’s number one pasta restaurant and another to add to this list of must-try Subiaco dining spots is New Normal.IMG_9604

The new bar and kitchen, found in the Simon Chugg heritage building, is a place to share grazing plates with friends over some carefully selected local wines. There are long communal tables with vases of native flora, cosy booths draped with art deco style light fittings and high stools at the bar.IMG_9600

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Manuka Woodfire Kitchen, Freo

wood fire

Manuka Woodfire Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A chilly winters evening begs for a wood fire. We find a cosy little eatery in Fremantle that fits the bill perfectly. Manuka Woodfire Kitchen, on High Street, serves hearty comfort food cooked exclusively in its wood fire oven.

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Head Chef Kenny McHardy is a champion of West Australian produce. It’s showcased in his ever changing menu which is currently full of winter goodies including roasted beets and truffles. I can sniff out a truffle as well as any truffle dog, so I am pleased to see that they’re currently being featured at Manuka – we’re in the thick of truffle season after all. They’re sourced from a boutique truffle orchard in Manjimup, run by none other than Chef David Coomer (Star Anise, Pata Negra).

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The intimate restaurant oozes Freo with its limestone feature walls. A friendly waiter presents us with a small, though well chosen, drinks menu that features WA wines, beers, ciders and spirits. We enjoy a velvety smooth pinot noir from Mount Barker winery Mount Trio. The drop has cherry aromas and is a great match for slow cooked red meats.

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The popular spot is soon full with customers and the open kitchen is a hive of activity. In saying that, it’s not a noisy restaurant and we’re happy we don’t have to shout over the table as we order our meals. The menu is made up of share plates and gourmet pizzas.
We choose the “Chef’s Menu” at $55 per person. This includes seven dishes from the menu, with the addition of the fresh truffles for an extra cost of $20 per table. Money well spent in my opinion! Along with our wine, we devour roasted olives, which are served warm. The roasting process gives them a softer texture and slightly milder flavour.

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The deliciously spiced flat bread is served with Cooladerra Farm olive oil from Frankland River. The simple bread, freshly baked to order, arrives hot and fluffy from the wood fire. We tear at the bread and dip chunks into the luscious smoked eggplant babaganoush, lapping up every morsel.

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The wait staff are very knowledgeable about the produce used and tell us a little about each dish as it’s served. Next, we share organic feta from Over The Moon Organics, a small Albany dairy farm where the farmers milk the cows and make the cheese. The creamy cheese is delicious drizzled with honey and a scattering of walnuts.

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Little Chef tucks into a smoked beef chorizo pizza ($21) topped with olives, capsicum, spring onion and feta. We sneak a slice and discover that the base is as fluffy and light as the flat bread.

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The first of our meat dishes, Manuka’s award winning charred chicken thigh, is incredibly moist and full of smoky flavours. On the side is pickled red cabbage and a moreish miso sauce. Continue reading

Meeka – Subiaco

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Meeka Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Meeka’s friendly service begins when we make our booking over the phone. We had settled on an early dinner, though Chef couldn’t quite decide on a time “6pm, no 6.30pm… ummm” Chef stumbles. Owner Faye replies – quick as a flash – “How about we meet in the middle – let’s make it 6.15”. Perfect. Faye also enquired if we’d dined at Meeka before and if we needed directions. Very friendly and happy to please – it set the tone for the evening’s service.IMG_8835

We arrive at 6.15pm precisely and are warmly welcomed by Faye at a beautifully carved Moroccan door in the restaurant’s entrance. We are seated at the window, overlooking leafy Rokeby Road. It’s our very first visit here and I’m not entirely sure what to expect. I had been imagining that we would step into a tented room, decked out like a colourful Casablanca souk. What we actually find is a modern, crisp and neutral restaurant – with a splash of Moroccan decoration. Meeka is a classy little place and reflects the style of food perfectly – modern Australian cuisine, with a Middle Eastern twist.IMG_8837

Meeka’s Head Chef, Leah Clarke, also happens to be Faye’s daughter. The mother-daughter team have together won a bevy of awards and accolades including “Wine List of the year”. Their wine list is seriously impressive, each vintage handpicked to complement Meeka’s menu. Chef chooses a glass of Friends of Punch Pinot Noir (NZ). Much of the drinks menu is scoured from Europe. I try a sweet French apple aperitif – it is exquisite and very smooth.

We share a mezze plate ($32) from the specials board. We devour the delicious harissa yogurt marinated chicken, served on ornate metal skewers. The tender chicken skewers are perfectly complimented by the delicately flavoured coriander and coconut sauce. The dainty pork neck pies are full of flavour and encased in flaky pastry. Black garlic labneh, a slightly sour cheese made from strained yogurt, is on the side. We relish the chargrilled corn and sweet potato croquettes.IMG_8842

We both choose a tajine, which is essentially a Moroccan stew, cooked and served in a colourful earthenware dish. There are options other than the hearty tajine dishes – also on the mains menu are braised ribs, lamb cutlets, gnocchi and much more – all with their own Moroccan flavour.IMG_8846

The aromas of cumin, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg waft from my lamb tagine ($38) as soon as the lid is lifted by our waiter. It is simply mouth-watering. Top quality Dorper lamb is used, which is very tender. The dish is full of texture from chickpeas, zucchini and crunchy harrissa spiced almonds. Prunes give the already delicious lamb an even deeper sweetness. The lamb tajine is served with a generous side of creamy hummus yogurt.IMG_8851

The tagines are designed to share, but Chef is not happy to part with a morsel of his main. After much persuasion he lets me try his dish and I soon realise why he wants to keep it all to himself! The wagyu beef tagine ($42) is absolutely sensational. The slow braised wagyu beef cheek simply falls apart at the merest touch of a fork. It is so buttery and tender. The beef is accompanied by saffron potatoes, mint preserved lemon yoghurt, pickled radish, sumac onions and fresh herbs. All the tajines are served with a side of Israeli couscous or quinoa for those with a gluten free diet.IMG_8850

It seems a crime not to look at the dessert menu, after such an enjoyable meal. I simply cannot say no to the Turkish delight stuffed doughnuts ($16). The fluffy little doughnuts – oozing with Turkish delight – are dusted in chocolate sugar and drizzled with a spiced chocolate sauce. On the side is creamy homemade pistachio ice cream. It is full of oodles of chopped nuts, which add a touch of crunch to the silky smooth ice cream. The sweet pistachio Persian fairy floss takes me back to my childhood. What an absolutely scrumptious dessert!IMG_8863

Chef manages to squeeze in a scoop of house made ice cream and candy floss too.IMG_8858

We are seriously impressed by Meeka Restaurant. The service, food, wine and casual, yet classy atmosphere is almost flawless and has the attention and care of a family run business.IMG_8867

**First published in the Post newspaper**

At a glance

■ Meeka Restaurant

361 Rockeby Road

Subiaco WA

Phone 9381 1800

■ Opening times

Tuesday – Saturday

6pm till late

■ Rating

food 4

service 5

ambience 4

value for money 4

■ style – Modern Australian

with a Moroccan twist

■ wine – award winning wine list

with an international feel.

■ Chef – Leah Clarke

■ Owner – Faye Clarke

■ feel – inviting, modern and classy

■ wheelchair access – yes

■ cost –

Entrée – $14 – $38

Mains – $30 – $42

Dessert – $7.80 – $38

■ all in all – absolutely delicious

Moroccan inspired dishes. Excellent

Service. Equally great for groups

or an intimate date night.