But after a Friday lunch with a couple work colleagues at Beaufort Street Merchant, I rediscovered an old flame that I'd forgotten just how much I adore.
If you haven't been to Beaufort Street Merchant, it's a beautifully crowded and bustling restaurant; filled with shelves of gourmet bottled food items and gifts, eclectic styling and a back area that features wine for sale. I adore the busyness of this place; with it's mountainous display of baked goods, and steaming mugs of coffee being delivered to the heavily wooden tables and chairs scattered around. In summer, it's an ideal spot to sit on the streetfront outdoor tables and soak in the hoards of people that flock to Beaufort Street - Perth's eating hotspot.
On my Friday lunch, I found myself completely overwhelmed by the menu's choices. And even though I'd ordered gnocchi only days before at The Stables Bar, I could not help but order it again. I have such a weakness for these delicious little potato pillows!
This particular dish was Gnocchi with Swiss Brown Mushrooms, Toasted Hazlenuts, Truffle Oil and Comte ($29). I decided on washing it down with a glass of the 2012 Bone Tree Hill SBS from Margaret River ($9). A perfect cheeky Friday lunch in my opinion!
The truffle oil used in the dish is rich and flavoursome, though towards the end I do find that it gets a bit too oily, but overall it does great things to the other ingredients.
The gnocchi is pan fried, slightly crisp on the outside and dreamily soft on the inside. The hazlenuts scattered on top offers some flavour and crunch; the mushrooms tender and slightly toothsome. Comte isn't a cheese I'm too familiar with but it's a French cheese which is actually the highest produced cheese in France and is usually aged from 12-18 months.
I would definitely order this dish again! And with that delightfully crisp wine, I enjoyed my lunch greatly.
My colleagues order the Arkady Lamb Fillet Salad with Cracked Farro, Tabbouleh, Pistachio, Feta and Pickled Onion ($28) and the Saffron & Leek Mussels with Chips ($22). They were both very quick to report that their lunches were delicious, and oh so satisfying. That's three happy campers!
The next day Jeremy and I woke up and after some discussion, decided we'd go out for lunch since we had separate plans for that night. After the day before's enjoyable lunch, we decided that we'd go to Beaufort Street Merchant so that he could finally try this place that I've been raving about since... well forever!
We set out and it seems luck is on our side as we find parking straight away, and get one of the last tables as we make our way inside, beating the queue of people that follow about ten minutes later. I can tell Jeremy is excited in that way where you've heard great things about a restaurant and are about to try it for yourself.
We start things off with a juice each (at $9.60 each these were definitely on the pricier side of things for fresh juice) - Jeremy choosing 'The Cure' (apple, ginger, orange and lemon) and I pick 'Lush' (watermelon, apple, mint and rosewater).
They come out frothy and light, flavoursome and in the process of cooling down from the added ice. I absolutely loved mine with the sweet but mild watermelon, and that nice almost mediterranean twist of rosewater and mint. Really satisfying!
This is a traditional Italian dish that I used to eat more often than not back in the days when I was dating an Italian guy (days so long past). I do miss the flavours so when I see this on a menu, I have to try it!
If you haven't tried it, it's thin cold slices of veal that has a tuna infused mayonnaise sauce covering it (or in this case, sitting underneath). At Beaufort Street Merchant they serve it with picked baby chard leaves, crispy capers and little crumbed mozzarella balls.
It's a lovely light dish for a weekend lunch, and I'm so happy after my first bite (and from then on) as I absorb those wonderful flavours. The sauce has a distinct tuna taste but it isn't unpleasantly fishy; the mayonnaise cool and creamy. The veal has that melt in your mouth quality you'd expect, the baby chard fresh and crisp. But strangely the biggest surprise for me is the capers. I've never been the biggest fan of these but after trying a proper caper berry at Jamie's Italian, I'm open to trying them. And these ones are amazing. Salty flavour bombs go off in my mouth as I bite down on them, enhancing the other ingredients on the plate.
And those crumbed mozzarella balls... well I don't quite know where to start! Stringy, moorish and oh so crunchy on the outside. Love, love, love them. And I mean love.
Beef cheek pie
For his meal, Jeremy choose the Beef Cheek Pie ($38) which is one of the more pricey dishes on the menu, but boy does it sound absolutely incredible. I'm so pleased that he picks it because I know just by the description it's going to be amazing.
Polenta, pastry, baby onions and crispy kale. Yes - a hundred times yes thanks!
Beef cheek pie
The polenta that sits underneath all else is creamy and buttery. It has that lovely gritty sort of texture - the kind that's not grainy but exactly as polenta should be. When the dish first comes out I actually think it's mashed potato, but tasting it offers a pleasant surprise. I'm really into polenta these days when done right, and this one very much is.
The beef cheek is so soft it's ridiculous; Jeremy's fork dragging through the meat with ease. There's pastry underneath and on top of the beef which is homemade puff - buttery and crunchy it ticks all the boxes. The baby onions that accompany the dish are sweet and caramelised; the kale lightly fried to give it an even greater crunch.
It's a HUGE dish. And I mean huge. It comes out and takes up the majority of our table; and when he finishes the last bite, I can see he is really full. Like a bit of struggled breathing and that almost drunk feeling when you've over consumed. But did he regret ordering it? Hell no, is the answer I get.
Though we know we've ordered enough food, I spy Chickpea Chips ($9.50) on the sides portion of the menu and I just can't resist. In the list of my current obsession foods, chickpeas are high up on the list and I haven't ever tried them in chips before.
They come out looking like polenta chips do; those thick brick style concoctions that sit atop a cumin spiced yoghurt. The chickpea chips are firm on the outside, incredibly soft on the inside. They're almost like tofu in texture and I love the combination of them with the yoghurt sauce - they go very much hand in hand, and it makes this a dish to try.
Special cheese board
While Jeremy's full, I'm a little bit tempted by the idea of dessert. I know it's lunchtime so it's a bit on the naughty side, but I'm craving something sweet to finish up our meal. Our helpful waiter brings us a menu to consider ordering dessert while telling us about the specials of the day. A peanut butter semifreddo has me halted in thought, but when I hear that wistful sigh that follows his explanation of the Special Cheese Board ($15), I'm sold.
Triple cream brie with truffles inside, lavosh crackers, candied walnuts and pumpkin honey spread. How can I not order this, it has so many elements that appeal to me. And it comes out quickly, looking absolutely incredible.
The brie is dreamy; so creamy and full of truffle flavour. The candied walnuts are sweet and sticky; the lavosh crisp. But the real winner is that pumpkin honey spread! I will (I actually believe this) crave this for well into the future. It's heavily pumpkin flavoured, but so sweet from that creamy honey that it's infused with. A match made in heaven in my opinion - and when paired with the lavosh and brie, it's all I need in life. I actually think I might believe that! Yes it's an extreme reaction to food, but isn't that the beauty of falling in love with a dish?! I love food, and when I find something new and exciting (which that pumpkin honey spread was), I get a little bit carried away!
Special cheese board
After the last bite of cheese is finished and the final drop of spread licked clean, Jeremy and I are stuffed to the very brim. It's been a more expensive lunch than we usually indulge in, but boy has it been a great one. I love Beaufort Street Merchant. And after two successful meals there in as many days, I'm happy to say that it wasn't a honeymoon period, it's the real thing.