Gusto Food: South Perth

Poppers explode expelling colourful streamers amidst a puff of smoke. The words HAPPY BIRTHDAY spill from mouths across the room. Champagne glasses raise in unison before being sucked dry. Excitement has filled the air, yet all I hear is a loud tick-tock coming from my biological clock located somewhere between my uterus and forgetful mind.

It’s my birthday and friends have gathered to celebrate my 25th year of winning the race to my Mother’s egg (bless my competitive nature). Although it is a nice occasion to eat food and drink wine, I know I am having a quarter life crisis. I am not for one minute saying that being 25 years of age is old, but if one reflects on the 25 – 30 years of age period it seems to be a time when your meant to get your merde (french swear word) together.

Examples include:

1. Getting married or engaged. (Bonus points if he is good-looking, rich and not a complete douche bag.)

3. Landed a killer job preferably in your area of study, thus not regretting the copious amounts of money spent on a university education

4. Moved out of parents ‘granny flat’ and bought a house. 2 year grace period for Perth citizens is applicable due to over priced and poorly located housing.

5. Learnt to appreciate red wine, coffee, gin and blue cheese over passion pop, hot chocolate, smirnoff ice and cheese sticks.

Sadly, as I mused over this list my early headway of learning to like coffee and red wine at age 20 has come to a complete standstill. I am now leading the charge to usurp the crazy cat lady throne, failing to accomplish many of these items on the checklist. Fortunately for my mental well-being, with just one trip to Gusto Food: South Perth, I was able to pull myself out of this quarter life crisis slump. (No regrettable red convertible purchase necessary)

Located on the previously underperforming  Angelo St coffee strip,  Gusto Food is relatively narrow therefore being a tight squeeze for 7 women and a baby. Without much of an option to go elsewhere we made it work and ordered at the counter. The coffee was served promptly and although I wouldn’t go back for the coffee alone it was palatable. Before long gentle murmurs of ooohhhing and aaahhhing swept across the table. Some may have throught it would be over my friends baby, and although she is cute it was the sight of the food being placed in front of us that elicited such sounds.

The cinnamon toast, bacon, banana, maple & berries,honeycomb, ice-cream ($16.50) looked fit to serve the cast of survivor 3 times over. The cinnamon toast was thick allowing for the berry and maple syrup to be happily soaked up and eaten. The vast array of sweet and savoury ingredients was probably overkill and the old ‘less is more’ proverb was applicable to this dish. Although both diners looked unsure on how to approach eating the cinnamon mountain, this was quickly overcome and shared thus reducing the food envy spilling across the table.

Cinnamon toast, bacon, banana, maple & berries,honeycomb, ice-cream ($16.50)

Breakfast or dessert? Cinnamon toast, bacon, banana, maple & berries,honeycomb, ice-cream ($16.50)

The housemade crumpets, berry compote, peanut gravel & double cream ($13.50) was also ordered and although the serving wasn’t as generous as the cinnamon toast, it made up for it in flavour. Being an avid believer that peanut butter could solve most of the worlds problems and really is the next best thing since sliced bread, I wanted to sneak out back and find where Gusto was hiding the sensational peanut gravel. The crumpets were light and fluffy and made for an interesting menu item showing Gusto’s creativity.

Housemade crumpets, berry compote, peanut gravel & double cream ($13.50)

Housemade crumpets, berry compote, peanut gravel & double cream ($13.50)

With many of the items being ‘sweets’ orientated I opted for a more savoury approach with the provincial poached egg, spinach, tomato, mushrooms, avocado, hollandaise on toast ($17.50). Although it wasn’t the prettiest of plates resembling babies reflux on toast, it was extremely tasty. The poached egg with long time favourite foods mushroom and avocado made a good base for this meal. The hollandaise sauce was enjoyable but due to a heavy hand, it left me feeling a bit unwell due to the heaviness/creaminess (Some would suggest I practice portion control, but to these people I laugh in their healthy faces).

Provincial poached egg, spinach, tomato, mushrooms, avocado, hollandaise on toast

Provincial poached egg, spinach, tomato, mushrooms, avocado, hollandaise on toast

So how do eggs, mushrooms, cinnamon toast and peanut gravel manage to pull someone out of a quarter life crisis? Despite not ‘having my act together’, maturing definitely has its advantages (clarity being bought on by peanut gravel). Call me old and boring but I enjoy the fact that I can now experience the following on a regular basis:

1. Being able to maximise my Sunday by going out with friends at 9am in the morning vs remaining in the foetal position for half a day with a severe hangover.

2. Actually hearing what my friend has to say compared to lip reading and assuming the rest (a common night club occurence).

3. Being able to buy food for your friends baby, which in the end you can inevitably eat yourself as the baby isn’t on solids or could possibly be allergic to nuts

4. Having money to afford such glorious food compared to the student staple of me-goreng or 2 minute noodles.

So cheers to becoming a golden oldie and Gusto cafe. It’s great to  no longer hang my head in shame when a North of the River citizen questions the South’s culinary ability.

Positives: Good portions sizes for a reasonable price, great location, mouth-watering cake cabinet.

Negatives: Average coffee, slightly overly creamy provincial eggs and limited space for a popular place.

Score: 3/5

Love The Fat Cow x

Gusto Food 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