It's Christmas time. Well nearly anyway, which means that restaurants around Perth are catering to the masses as they descend down into the world of boozy lunches and delicious (we hope so) meals. For myself, this time of year is chaotic - lunches, dinners and all other types of functions that require a careful handling of my calendar and a stomach prepared for over indulgence.
It all started at The Beaufort Street Merchant.
Our department Christmas lunch in past years has been at places such as Modo Mio, Yu, the Royal, Funtasticos, the Subi Hotel. This year we'd decided to head to Rottnest for the day instead but the weather wasn't in our favour so instead we called around (too many places to remember) before finally managing to snag a table for six at the very popular Beaufort Street Merchant.
Only a couple of us had eaten here before which meant a lot was riding on our shoulders if the meals were bad! But in we went and smiles immediately formed on all faces as we were taken to the back tables near the store area. Yes, this place actually has a wine and gourmet food shop at the back of it - a great place for present buying and one I will be visiting for some Christmas present shopping.
The decor here is eclectic and cozy. There's couches out the front for some decent street and footpath direct people watching. Tables of different sizes and heights; with stacks of desserts and wood as far as the eye can see. Candles on tables give it an intimate feel and you can look directly into the kitchen as mouth watering scent after mouth watering scent waft your way. It's like being a tourist in your own city.
The menu is simple - no entrees and mains, but rather a list of lunch and dessert food items with some share boards at the top. We settle in and start things off with a cocktail while choosing the wine we'll enjoy during lunch. I leave the wine choice to the others and mull over my cocktail - deciding on a delicious sounding Lemon Meringue Martini.
When it arrives it looks incredible - you can see the lemon curd and taste the limoncello perfectly. It literally tastes like I'm eating a decadent dessert. A must have for sure if you have a sweet tooth!
Lemon meringue martini
While we're all going to order our own mains, we decide to order some share boards to start off with. They come out on some wonderfully rustic boards - one with slices of spicy chorizo, creamy danish feta, olives and a lovely hot baguette that's knobbly, crunchy on the outside and soft inside. The virgin olive oil on side to dip has a really fantastic flavour to it, it coats the inside of my mouth without leaving a gritty or overpowering aftertaste. The balsamic inside is a glaze type that is sweet and soaks into the bread, colouring it black. The second board has some cured meat, polenta chips, guacamole and marinated octopus plus another loaf of bread. We order two more loaves and that sets us on the right path as we start our day of wining and dining. These boards are delicious! I definitely recommend them if you head this way.
When it comes to ordering my main, I am completely stuck. The problem here is that I'm actually spoilt for choice. The others place their orders choosing:
- Roast pumpkin and ricotta rotolo (comes with toasted pine nuts and burnt sage butter)
- Steak with fries
- Crab linguine with rocket and parmesan
- Asparagus spears with a caesar salad
- Sides of greens and parmesan roast potatoes
Baked goats cheese
I have a moment of food envy when I spy the crab linguine get put down across from me - it's a huge serving of both white and green pasta ribbons entwined enticingly. It's also a huge serving! But then again it seems all of us had this for our mains, so it seems that this restaurant is generous which is a big plus for me.
I dive into mine, enjoying the almost ashy taste of the goats cheese and how gooey it's become from being in the oven. It's soft and not too sharp; tasting amazing when combined with the giant slices of garlic toast that are charred and buttery. The presentation is really key here and I'm pretty rapt with how it tastes too! The salad on side is fresh and full of contrasting textures and flavours. It's great when something so simple can work so well, plus the sweetness of the pear countered any moments of intensity from the cheese.
Everyone else is completely enamoured with their dishes which is such a nice thing to have when you're all out for a celebration. I'm offered a bite of the rotolo and I have to say I think I'll be ordering this myself next time I come in. It's four large wheels of buttery goodness that are soft to the bite and packed full of flavour. The blistered tomatoes that accompany it have soaked up some of that sauce which just makes them even more amazing to eat.
At this stage the wine is free flowing and I find myself ordering another cocktail - a twist on the classic French Martini. Like my drink before, it comes out beautifully presented and well made. Not too much emphasis on the alcohol, but rather a lovely balanced creation. Who would have thought this place knew how to make such a good cocktail! Even better, one of my colleagues ordered a couple drinks off the menu and it wasn't too hard or too much of a bother for them to fulfill his requests. You have to give them dues for this!
Banana and peanut butter crumble
As the afternoon wanes on and four o'clock rolls around we finally find ourselves ready for dessert. There's a smorgasbord of baked treats up the front to choose from such as rocky road, cupcakes and whoppee pies. A couple of the group order items from this section, which are delivered straight away (strangely 20 minutes before the rest of ours).
In our group, we had:
- Dark chocolate rocky road
- Chocolate whoopee pie
- Creme brulee
- Brioche french toast with berries
- Banana and peanut butter crumble
That said the dessert is straight up funky. Oats are used to form the crumble on top which work well for some crunch. Normally I love the buttery flour lumps crumbles have but the oats suit this since the rest of the dish is so rich. Underneath is a custard that has great peanut butter taste and slices of banana throughout. Pour on that extra peanut butter sauce and I can basically feel the pimples forming on my skin. But never mind, it tastes damn good so away I munch. And munch. And munch. Until I start to feel sick (about halfway through) and have to push it away from me so I don't keep picking.
Our afternoon at The Beaufort Street Merchant was fantastic. While the service does need a bit of improvement (we often had to stand up and get a server), the food is more than enough to come this way. There's something to be said about using basic ingredients and producing something worth raving about. It's another gem on this street of many.