Manuka Woodfire Kitchen, Freo

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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.

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The wood roasted beetroot is insanely good. I’m a beetroot fan. I love it on burgers and in salads. Roasting this winter vegetable takes it to a whole other level of flavour. Glistening pomegranate pearls, shaved truffle and a smoked labne make this a decedent veggie dish indeed.

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The beef shin, slow roasted for sixteen hours, is gelatinous, smoky and rich. Served with baby roast potatoes and shavings of parmesan and truffle, adding an earthy flavour. It’s good, honest food and absolutely mouth-watering.

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We finish with little bowls of deconstructed lime cheesecake. Sprinkled with roasted white chocolate and laced with juicy chunks of persimmon, it’s a zesty and light dessert to end our tasty feast.

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Chef Kenny owns Manuka, along with his wife Jody, who runs the front of house. The kitchen team use the simple cooking method of the wood fire, which really allows the top quality produce to shine. The menu at Manuka changes by the day, depending on the local ingredients that are available, so you’re always able to try something new.

Chef and I are impressed by Manuka Woodfire Kitchen’s punchy flavours and beautifully cooked food. We would happily return for more of their warm hospitality by the wood fire.

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** First published in the Post Newspaper

At a glance

■ Manuka Woodfire Kitchen
134 High Street
Fremantle
Phone 9335 3527

■ Opening times
Tuesday to Sunday
5pm till 9pm

■ Rating
food 4
service 4
ambience 4
value for money 5

■ style – Wood-fired cuisine

■ wine – small list of wines from
all around Western Australia.

■ Head Chef – Kenny McHardy

■ Owners – Kenny and
Jody McHardy

■ feel – warm and inviting

■ wheelchair access – yes

■ cost
Share $7 – $38
Pizza $17 – $21
Dessert $12

■ all in all – Manuka serves
delicious soul-warming
dishes straight from it’s
wood fire. Bookings are
essential.

Zephyr Restaurant, North Beach

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Zephyr Mediterranean Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I hadn’t heard of North Beach restaurant Zephyr, who kindly asked us in for dinner, so I asked my friend Google a little about them. What I found was a Gold Plate winning restaurant that has many positive reviews online and a very loyal local following in the Perth northern beaches.

Zephyr’s website describes it’s self as an Italian restaurant. So when I arrived I was expecting to see pasta and pizza on the menu… you won’t find that at Zephyr. It’s a European restaurant, which has “Mediterranean style” dishes on the menu.

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We dined on a rainy Wednesday, the restaurant had a lively atmosphere, with tables of people happily chatting and enjoying tunes played by Pablo the Spanish guitarist in the enclosed alfresco area. I enjoyed a bit of music with my fruity drink!

For main, Chef chose the Harvey beef fillet ($39). Cooked nicely medium rare, it was topped with a plump field mushroom, truffle salt, shaved parmesan and a red wine sauce. He also picked a side of chunky roasted rosemary and garlic potato chips.

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I picked the pork belly ($36) as it’s one of my favourite cuts of meat. The pork was served with creamy mash, scallops and a house made spicy kim chi. Julienned snow peas were perfectly cooked. Unfortunately the crackling wasn’t crisp, but the rest of the belly meat was moist and flavoursome.

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Urban Bowl, Perth CBD

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Urban Bowl Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hiding amongst the city skyscrapers, you’ll find a modern Vietnamese café. Lunch-y things like rice paper rolls, noodle salads, noodle soup bowls and Vietnamese baguette rolls are on the menu – with a focus on flavour and value.

Owner and Head Chef Che Tam Nguyen is influenced by many trends and cuisines – from the dude food he used to cook in his delicious Butty’s Food Truck, the modern Australian cuisine he used to plate up as part of the Australian Culinary team and now his popular Vietnamese Urban Bowl eatery, just off St Georges Terrace in the CBD.

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Tam invited me in for a spot of lunch. The last time that I worked in the city was 2004, so I relished the opportunity to walk down the bustling terrace at noon. I really miss having the city’s takeaway and lunch spots right at my finger tips! Continue reading

Itsara – Nedlands

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Itsara Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Itsara, a high-end Thai eatery on Stirling Highway, is an unassuming spot from the outside. The modern restaurant is packed with locals and it’s not hard to see why, once you’ve stepped inside. Never in Perth have I seen such a breathtaking eating space than the garden dining room at Itsara. You can imagine that you’re eating in a Thai jungle as you are completely surrounded by the lush greenery of the vertical and hanging gardens.

It’s comes as no surprise that their thriving indoor garden is down to Head Chef and co-owner Itsara  Pracharoenwattana, who has a PhD in plant molecular biology. As well as nurturing this dining oasis, Chef Itsara also grows a great deal of his own vegetables and herbs.

We step into the busy restaurant and are shown to our table at the door of the contemporary main dining room, which has large windows spilling out to the garden dining room below. I can hardly take my eyes off the greenery long enough to look at the drinks menu. I choose a glass of Pierro LTC Semillon Sauvignon. The delicate drop from Margaret River has tangy stone fruit flavours and compliments Thai food well.

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Most people share dishes at Itsara, though you don’t have to if you’re feeling greedy. The tempting modern Thai menu is completely gluten free, besides a couple of deserts. The kitchen makes all their own pastes and sauces from scratch, using fresh ingredients, meaning MSG and other nasty food additives aren’t used in their cooking.

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Soon enough our “Pretty Duck” arrives, $18, which is indeed a pretty dish. Char-grilled marinated duck is served with fresh julienned green mango, shallot and cashew nuts. The sweet dish has crunch and is drizzled with a cracking house made dressing, made of pineapple and sweet chilli.

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Jack and Jill – Kalamunda

Jack & Jill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

As the nursery rhyme goes… Jack and Jill went up the hill and “up the hill” is where we travelled to this delicious café on the main street in Kalamunda.IMG_4348

We were up in the Perth Hills on a Sunday morning, having a wander around the weekly Kalamunda Farmers Market. Afterwards, we popped into Jack and Jill for a bite to eat. The popular café is brimming with people enjoying coffee and brunch, which we just ordered right on the noon cut off, phew!IMG_9127

The coffee is very good. We’ve visited Jack and Jill for coffee n cake a few times, usually with my parents. As well as a good cuppa, I also enjoy their iced teas.IMG_4342

Their fresh bakes are to die for. We’ve tried a few and our favourite has been the strawberry, almond and yogurt cakes. They’re gluten free too. 

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Rose & Crown – Guildford

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Rose & Crown Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Rose and Crown Hotel, on leafy Swan Street in Guildford, is a stunning heritage building. It is the second oldest operating pub in Australia. The grand old building, which is over 175 years old, has been restored beautifully.IMG_6129

We’ve visited the historic hotel many times over the years. It’s somewhere we like to have long lunches, drinks with friends and take overseas guests to. We just love any excuse for a bite to eat in the shady beer garden.IMG_6126

The Rose and Crown is also lovely on a cold winter’s day. We’ve often stopped by on a chilly day and eaten indoors, by the roaring fire. I cannot rave enough about the beer garden. If you’ve never been, do yourself a favour and go and have a lazy afternoon in the sun dappled garden.IMG_6125

On this day I was meeting my parents on my birthday. We wanted to meet somewhere near the Swan Valley that had good food, but was casual enough for kids. We sat in the beer garden with a glass of wine, while Little Chef busily chatted and coloured in.IMG_6096

We enjoyed a delicious lunch. My Dad loved his masterstock pork belly ($36). A generous slab of flavoursome pork belly is served with tender grilled Freo octopus, a herb salad, crispy pork scratching and an apple gel.IMG_6103

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Alfred’s Kitchen – Guildford

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Alfred's Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

One of Perth’s most loved burger joints has recently become a whole lot more family friendly. Alfred’s Kitchen has been a Guildford institution for over 70 years. Previously, the takeaway didn’t provide much seating, apart from a few benches around the much loved fire pit. Perthies were happy to stand around munching on their burgers, though it could be a bit of a juggling act.

Now there is another alternative – Alfred’s have added a restored train carriage and courtyard which have loads of seating to eat your burgers and chips in comfort, making it much easier for little burger lovers too.

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