The Precinct: Vic Park

I referred to my latest venture to The Precinct: Vic Park as ‘the last supper’. Don’t assume I am no longer wining and dining due to becoming calorie conscience and taking up meal replacement shakes (let’s be frank, a shake isn’t a shake if ice-cream is absent). It’s something far more sinister going by the name of a BUDGET!

Only six tiny letters which already is causing havoc and placing strain on maintaining my social life and sugar levels. I have however, come to the realisation that holidays cost money and if I’m to be able to afford wining and dining in South and North America then I need to make some serious changes to my ‘foodie’ spending patterns. In order to honour this budget I am set to employ a ‘less is best’ attitude and sample Perth’s cheap eateries rather than venturing to the alluring and pricey gastronomic havens E.g. Amuse, Halo, Balthazaar.

This newly acquired and well honed skill of scoping out quality cheap eats may pay dividends in the US when attempting to locate quality cheap Texan bbq ribs, roadside burgers, southern soul food and the odd can of string cheese.

As I mentioned previously this therefore was my ‘last supper’ of moderately priced food and I was hoping that it would be a positive experience leaving me semi-happy to commence the budget venture. The suggestion of The Precinct provided by my fellow diner fit the bill for our mid-week dinner date.

The Precinct 

834 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park

(08) 9355 2880

http://theprecinctvicpark.com.au

Opening Hours

Mon-Fri 7:30am – midnight

Sat 8:00am – midnight

Sun8:00am – 10pm

Bookings available, walk-ins welcome

Settling back with a glass of the featured Howard Park Cab Sav at a rather expensive $13 p/glass it was hard to ignore the trendy and warehouse vibe that had been created. Exposed brick, dim lighting and wine lining the walls certainly made this bar/restaurant somewhere you would be keen to venture to for Friday night nibbles and drinks before a quick trek into the closely located CBD. Sound boards on the roof assist in keeping the noise to a minimum, a great move in a minimalistic and exposed environment.

It is easy to see why this relatively new restaurant has become a favourite in the otherwise underutilised Albany Hwy cafe strip. Although business seemed favourable I believe they could increase business 10 fold by simply changing their door. My favourite past time of people watching came to the forefront that evening with potential customers struggling to work the complex bi fold sliding doors. Pushing from the end marked with an arrow may seem logical but waitstaff were often scurrying to the door to operate the complex entry system. I’m not sure if this was their way of ensuring customers were greeted by front of house but if so its an effective ploy.

Table service was efficient and prompt. It was nice to finally see some great service in Perth with the wait staff cleaning our table, taking drink and food orders without having to be hunted down. Although it wasn’t particularly busy, it seemed like the kind of establishment that would run smoothly even on a hectic night.

We ordered almost immediately preventing any cannibalistic tendencies that may have reared its ugly head had we become too hungry. The menu is available online for breakfast, lunch and dinner including a substantial wine list. Although all items looked appetising, it was a small menu with a larger range of share plates/tapas than mains. In order to cover all bases we ordered 1 main and 2 tapas dishes for consumption which was enough for 3 people. The main was the gnocchi, pulled pork, almonds & silver beet ($23) while the two tapas dishes included the ever loved hand cut chips ($9.5) and walnut, rocket, white bean dip, tortilla crisps (gf/v) ($9).

Much like the interior the food presentation was clean yet appetising. The white bean dip was enjoyable and a great starter to the meal being light and fresh on the palate. A drizzle of olive oil or slightly more seasoning would have been preferable with the main ingredients of rocket and white bean needing some ‘oooomph’ in the flavour department.

White bean dip and tortilla chips

The age-old debate of soggy v crispy chips cropped up yet again with the much anticipated arrival of the hand cut chips. I am firmly in the ‘soggy/soft’ chip camp stemming from my youth of visiting country Chicken Treat specialising in day old soggy chips. The hand cut chips were right up my alley being slightly soft but not to the point that those on the crispy bandwagon would be disgusted. Seasoned well and at a sizeable proportion, I was happy with choosing this item off the menu. It was served with a side of chilli sauce but much to my surprise this wasn’t used by any of us, indicating the quality of the chips individually.

Hand cut chips

The last main was equally enjoyable. The almond and silver beet sauce lining the plate was topped with perfectly cooked pulled pork creating an interesting take on a ‘gnocchi’ meal. The almond and silver beet sauce was delicious and was mopped up with the pork and gnocchi stopping short of actually licking the plate clean, disappointingly frowned upon in public areas.

Pulled pork and gnocchi

Based on the design, food and wine list,I enjoyed my last supper at The Precinct and I have no hesitations in saying that I will be back after cessation of my ‘budget period’.

Positives: Cool decor, relaxed atmosphere, good service and ideal location.

Negatives: Complex door, limited main choice and some more seasoning for the dip required.

Overall: 3.5/5 

Next post is my 1st ‘cheap eat Perth’ post with Source Foods:Highgate being in the spotlight with their Friday night organic burgers.

Love The Fat Cow x

The Precinct on Urbanspoon

The Classroom: North Perth

Reflecting on my school report despite my best efforts I have never been a straight A grade student. Easily distracted by others in class and busy masterminding plans on how to be excused from Economics, I guess I was never destined for greatness in The Classroom environment…until now!

The Classroom

http://www.theclassroom.com.au/

1 / 356 Charles St, North Perth WA 6006

Tues to Fri – 4pm to late

Sat to Sun – 11am to late

Mon (private classes)

Ph: 08 9444 7729

No bookings taken

This Classroom specialises in the only subject that I could get an A in – Home ECONOMICS (minus the sewing). The setup is intriguing with retro tin lunch boxes, old wood desks and seats, blackboards and hand paintings clearly demonstrating that this is a well thought out ‘themed’ restaurant/bar. Like many of the newbies to the North Perth Bar, I spent a good 10 minutes discussing which items I rocked back in the day realising that I was shamelessly white and nerdy.

Unfortunately there is a no booking policy and by the time we arrived it was evident that we had hit “peak hour traffic” in restaurant terms. With limited seating  it is clear why there is a no booking policy in place, but does make it difficult to organise a group of friends to have dinner running the risk of waiting a period of time to find a large enough table.

I have now realised I have restaurant rage issues, after a fellow diner parked her rear on a seat/table that I had clearly stalked and scoped out. Refusing accept my move on notice in the form of daggers and one raised eyebrow, I scanned the room to see if there was a punishment cane available – lucky for her weapons were not kept on the premises and she lived to steal more tables another day (sorry Perth). Fortunately enough after another 20 minutes of making people feel uncomfortable by breathing heavily over their shoulders a table magically became available.

The three of us nestled around the school desk but instead of writing lines we perused the drinks list. The menu had been creatively stuck into a small school notebook which was another nice touch in setting the school scene. One of my fellow diners who demanded she go by the alias ‘Black Betty’, thought that I had taken my critiquing to a whole new level by bringing my own notebook with the menu stuck in it. I think she may have been relieved to find out I wasn’t that anal about my reviewing hobby.

The drinks menu was comprehensive and it was clear The Classroom is trying to build a reputation for both quality food and cocktails. In hope that someone may have thought I was talented in Chemistry, I selected a cocktail from the science menu aptly named The Bunsen after Burner ($20) with Chairman’s Spiced Rum, bunsen-burned bananas, fresh pressed lime, maple syrup, smoky bitters. The delicious aroma of the caramelising banana permeated the bar throughout the night and certainly smelt better than the usual waft of burning hair often a result of playing with Bunsen Burners. It was a tough decision opting for The After Bunsen Burner with  the  LNO2 Espresso Martini ($22) with fresh pressed Darkstar Espresso, The Classrooms Espresso mix, liquid nitrogen, mascarpone sherry foam and shaved chocolate also looking appetising.

The Bunsen after Burner

The Bunsen after Burner with Chairmans Spiced Rum, bunsen-burned bananas, fresh pressed lime, maple syrup, smoky bitters

Next on the agenda ordering food. Perusing the menu attached to a clipboard, we marked (with the good ol 2b pencil) which items we wanted before handing it to the teacher (waitress). Black Betty opted for the Szechuan pepper squid, compressed watermelon, nam-jim dressing ($16), while Smeagle’s carnivorous side got the better of him with selecting the 4hr Bourbon beef short ribs, smoked salt & chilli pineapple wedges ($17 small or $32 large). I couldn’t go past the Hand-cut crinkle chips, sumac dusting & chipotle aioli ($8) and Pork sausage rolls with fennel & apple, apricot chutney ($14) . Shortly after ordering my cocktail arrived served in a cute jam jar and smelling delicious. The quality spiced rum flavour was highly evident but nicely balanced by the sweetness of the maple syrup and bananas. The creativity and flavours featured in this cocktail won me over, and I would be more than happy to go back for pre-drinks with the girls despite being highly priced.

The Classroom order form

The Classroom order form with 2B pencil

The tuckshop lady must have worked hard as the food buzzer vibrated across the table in no time resulting in Smeagle and I sauntering through the crowd to the canteen to pick up our tea. I didn’t mind this self-service idea but logistically due to the large amount of people standing around the bar, for the non-trained waiter the journey from the canteen holding multiple plates is a perilous one. One can only imagine what would have happened if someone knocked my chips? Furthermore imagine if it was the lady who stole my table. Excuse the pun but I would have literally been spitting chips (Dad joke). The self-serve style restaurant also posed a few more problems with table service. Unfortunately for us we were sitting at a table that had not been cleared or cleaned from the last group sitting there making it sufficiently awkward for space once our food arrived. We weren’t the only ones with a table next door following suit and dropping a glass upon trying to clear their own table. Being a new restaurant this may just be teething problems, but self-service doesn’t mean a customer should be without table service all together. End of gripe!

Top marks go to the hand cut chips which proved to be highly addictive and enjoyable with the dusting of sumac over the top, something which I hadn’t seen done with chips before. Served in the old yellow chip bucket with generously cut thick chips, I could have devoured another bucket to myself (without even having to add more salt!). Due to Black Betty being a crispy chip lover and myself a soggy, we a had a great chip eating partnership worked out.

Hand-cut crinkle chips, sumac dusting & chipotle aioli

Hand-cut crinkle chips,sumac dusting & chipotle aioli

Szechuan pepper squid, compressed watermelon, nam-jim dressing

Szechuan pepper squid,compressed watermelon,nam-jim dressing

Smeagle was focusing on the ribs being a regular Tony Roma rib eater. Although stating they were good, he felt they didn’t pull of the bone as cleanly as he liked and were also fairly fatty. The rib I had pulled away nicely almost falling off the bone but I have to agree the fat to meat ratio was a bit out of kilter, which can sometimes happen with short ribs. The dipping sauce and side of barbecued pineapple was a plus, even for me who prefers fresh over cooked pineapple.

The pork sausage rolls were enjoyable with the apple and fennel sauce complementing the pork. In my opinion pork and fennel are like peas and carrots and is a classic flavour combination which should never be scoffed at. The pastry casing was nicely cooked with some crunch on the outside, something different to the usual soggy Mrs Mac’s sausage roll. Finally we move onto the Szechuan pepper squid, compressed watermelon, nam-jim dressing which caused some debate among the diners. The squid was well cooked avoiding any chewiness that sometimes arises with overcooked squid. The Szechuan flavour of the squid was also spot on, but the pairing of it with watermelon for me did not work. Eating each item separately was ok (with the watermelon cleansing the palate between the squid) but having a combined mouthful of the squid and watermelon made it became a wet dish taking away from the outer-crispyness of the squid. I am not sure which way it was designed to be eaten but either way Smeagle was in favour of the combination finding it quite refreshing.

4hr Bourbon beef short ribs, smoked salt & chilli pineapple wedges

4hr Bourbon beef short ribs, smoked salt & chilli pineapple wedges

The total came out to around $40 each including a drink which wasn’t bad for the quality of food and cocktails made. On a night out this may have come to a bit more, as I have no doubt that more cocktails and hand cut chips would be ordered. The vibe of The Classroom was inspiring and I am glad that North Perth finally has somewhere decent to eat. With my brother living just around the corner it will be nice to have a local restaurant vs having to drive into Leederville for a quality meal.

Positives: Interior decor, cocktail list and themed concept which Perth is yet to really see.

Negatives: Limited table service and no cane to hand out suitable punishment to rude diners.

Overall: 3.5/5. I love the concept and can see this place has great potential, already getting a good response from the locals. Hopefully after another month of being open they can solve a few of the table service problems which would see them take the bar to the next level.

Love The Fat Cow x

The Classroom on Urbanspoon

 

The Imp Cafe : East Vic Park

According to my research the definition of the word ‘Imp’ means: A small devil or small mischievous child.

 

As one is able to do on Wikipedia I am tempted to alter the word  ‘Imp’  to meaning: A ridiculously small food portion.

 

I have been to Imp Cafe previously for breakfast a few times and quite enjoyed their bircher muesli and Fiori coffee. I was however interested in seeing what their nighttime tapas menu had to offer. With the cafe being conveniently located from my humble abode and being BYO, I was keen to see if The Imp could become a regular grazing pasture when the mood for Tapas struck.

The Imp Cafe

863 Albany Hwy, East Vic Park

Phone: (08) 9361 2600

Open Mon – Sun (7am till 10pm)

BYO wine (Bottle shop 4 doors down)

http://www.theimp.com.au/

Not being able to book and knowing that the cafe itself is very small, our group of 5 (university chums) arrived at 6pm in order to ‘shotgun’ a table. Fortunately we nabbed a  table in prime location AKA next to the cake display. While we waited for our late 6th member to arrive we poured the red ($3 corkage p/head) and started campaigning for whichever plate took our fancy.

In the past I have clearly shared my notion of ‘what’s yours is mine’ when it comes to dining out. With this in mind one would think that I would adore Tapas, to which I respond with a “negative ghost rider”. My aversion to going out for tapas stems from the fact that after taking all costs into account it can wind up being expensive. This is mainly due to the fact that you have to purchase a  kebab with the lot on the way home because you are still starving. Not wanting to end my night with a kebab in hand and garlic sauce over my face, we surveyed the waitress as to how much we would require for 6 people. Her answer…… ‘ 1 plate each’. Putting my non-existent maths skills to use, 6 people meant that 6 plates would be required to avoid the kebab ghost run.

After vigorous campaigning and casting our votes the selection included:

Lamb backstrap, cous cous, stone fruit, mint & yoghurt …………. 26.0

Beef shin, charred spring onions & sticky soy sauce (g) ………….. 18.5

Crispy pork belly with cinnamon sugar, sweet potato, apple & currants .. 13.0

Spiced hand cut potatoes with aioli (v) …………………………………. 9.0

Venison chorizo, lemon & parsley (g) ……………………………………. 9.5

Duck & fig frittata bites, rocket & truffle oil (g) ……………………… 15.0

After ordering we were informed that our 6th member had gone AWOL and therefore would not be joining us. Secretly I smiled inside knowing that there would be no chance of going hungry, as we were sharing 6 plates between the 5 of us!! Happy days.

Service was relatively prompt but I would have hated to have seen my face when the plates were placed in front of me. I think it would have resembled the look of a two-year old realising she had received a book and embroided handkerchiefs for Christmas vs the My Little Pony, that she had been hankering for all year. I was particularly concerned about how we would go about sharing the crispy pork belly between 5 of us when there were only 2 portions about the size of a dice sitting on the oversized plate.

Crispy pork belly with cinnamon sugar, sweet potato, apple & currants

Feeling a little deflated I hoped that by slowy gnawing on each piece I would not only be amazed by the flavours but feel satisfied. Unfortunately this really wasn’t the case with the crispy pork belly not being particularly crispy and the hand cut potatoes resembling Napoleon Dynamite’s potato tots. The duck and fig frittata bites was probably the biggest let down, with the flavours of the duck and fig not coming through resulting in it tasting very bland.

Spiced hand cut potatoes with aioli (v)

The venison chorizo however was addictive and the dash of lemon gave it a nice fresh taste. I also enjoyed the lamb backstrap which was nicely accompanied with the cous cous and mint yoghurt, and was an appropriate serving size for 6 people.

Although we could have ordered more, I thought ‘wouldn’t it be good service and logical to inform diners that more than one pork belly dish should be ordered if there is only 2 pieces with 6 people sitting at the table????’

As the cake display had been making eyes at me all night, I decided to not order more tapas and fill up on sugary goodness. There was a large selection of desserts including brownies, crumble, sticky date pudding and carrot cake to name a few. Being slightly overcast I was in the mood for sticky date ($5.50) with a side of vanilla ice-cream ($2). The presentation of the pudding was cute (being served in a coffee cup) and the generous side serving of vanilla ice-cream was not in keeping with The Imp name. The pudding was enjoyable, but could have done with more sticky date sauce (really just sugar and butter…yum) making the cake more ‘moist’ (probably the most common word used when talking cake). Fortunately with the combination of the cake and red wine I felt full despite the main event barely touching the sides.

Sticky date pudding with a side of vanilla icecream

Positives: BYO wine, venison chorizo, generous with the ice-cream and a pleasant setting.

Negatives: ‘Imp size’ portions, bland duck frittata and another black mark against going out for Tapas.

Overall: Sorry but this Tapas didn’t win me over so I am giving it a 2/5. I am however happy to return for breakfast based on good past experiences.

Love The Fat Cow x

The Imp on Urbanspoon