Sunday, May 30, 2010

Zamia Cafe - Kings Park

This weekend I wanted to head up to Kings Park to Zamia Cafe. Zamia is a smallish cafe tucked away at the Synergy Parkland that caters for breakfasts, lunches or just stopping in for a drink and a cake. I wanted to go here for a few reasons. Firstly, I love Kings Park and in particular the Synergy Parkland, the view from the cafe is picturesque and very relaxing. Secondly, I'd been before and had a good experience there so wanted to see if it was a one off or the real deal. And finally, I haven't seen it reviewed anywhere, at least not by the breakfast blogs I read, so thought I'd get in there first to spread the word.

When I arrived, the place was busy but there were tables available. I grabbed a seat and had a look at the menu. The menu again, has all the favourites with their own quirks to them and the prices were as you would expect for Perth. Each week I'm not sure how to critique the prices to be honest. I'm loathed to describe $17 as "Good" for eggs Benedict but in Perth, that is a reasonable price I suppose. Benedict, florentine, Big Breakfast (Called the Zamia Challenge), pancakes and muesli were all there and I liked the sound of the smoked salmon brioche with poached eggs grilled asparagus & hollandaise sauce on toasted brioche but in the end, I ordered the Eggs Benedict. The Eggs Benny were described as poached eggs, english spinach & grilled leg ham with hollandaise sauce on toasted italian loaf. The vegie breakfast had mushrooms, roma tomatoes, avocado, steamed spinach, poached egg & sweet corn fritter on toasted italian loaf.

I ordered my usual Long Black and we also got a pot of English Breakfast tea. You can't really go wrong with a pot of tea although it was a bit weak; one tea bag for 2-3 cups. My coffee was excellent. A thick creamy crema followed by a dark smooth taste from the coffee underneath. The service was very good; I decided to move tables before my drinks came and as I walked to the next table, the waiter ran over and wiped it for us before we sat down. You order at the counter and wait for your beeper to beep when it is ready. I didn't wait long and when it did beep, the waitress was looking for me to stand up so she could bring my food over.

In my previous review, I stipulated what I looked for in the perfect Eggs Benny and one of the points I made was that it had to be on a toasted English muffin. Today it came on 2 slices of toasted Italian loaf stacked on top of each other. A bit much when stacked but I re-arranged my plate so they were side by side with an egg on each and it was very nice bread. The eggs themselves were very well cooked, a creamy yolk which ran when I cut into it and I like a bit of spinach with the ham and eggs. I should also comment on how well the spinach was blanched. You sometimes get your breakfast sitting in a pool of water that has ran from the spinach but it was done well today with no water and very flavoursome spinach. The hollondaise sauce was also very nice. I've found that the brighter yellow it is, the more yolky and vinegary it tastes. As you can see from the picture, it was a nice pale cream colour and was absolutely delicious.

The vegie breakfast didn't go down to well but I think that was more a case of plate envy than finding anything wrong with it. I was curious about the sweet corn fritter and it was very nice. It was like a hash brown with a sweet taste from the corn. I love mushrooms and avocado so there were no complaints about the breakfast and it was cooked very well.

I'm going to let you into a secret. I really wanted to come back here and review it because it was so good the last time. That's right, I knew it was awesome and was desperate to justify my opinion with a proper review. I have to say, I wasn't let down. This is the best Eggs Benny I've had in Perth and that's twice now so I don't think it's down to luck. The service is prompt and friendly and the atmosphere is relaxed. The location and scenery is excellent and allows you to get out of the city and away from everything for a couple of hours. Points to improve on? I don't think anybody enjoys cutting through 2 slices of thick Italian bread. Get them side by side and spread the ham, spinach and eggs over both of them. The prices are competitive for Perth but Milkd have proven that you can slash your prices and keep the quality. $17 is NOT good for Eggs Benny (even if they are delicious), I'd be looking at $10 MAX and that still offers a generous profit margin.

Scores on the doors:

Service 8/10
Atmosphere 7/10
Coffee 7/10
Food 9/10
Price 5/10

Final Score 37/50 (Pipping Milkd to top spot by 1 point!)

Would I go again?

Oh yes! I noticed you can reserve tables so I'll be booking a table for the breakfast club, probably when summer arrives.


Zamia Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 24, 2010

Raffles Hotel - Applecross

This week was the inaugural meeting of the newly formed Perth Breakfast Club. I had initially invited 14 people along to meet up and help me critique the Raffles Hotel's breakfast, so having 8 of us there was a fair turn out. Once there, we discussed and settled on the idea of meeting up once a month to have breakfast together and give opinions on cafes and restaurants across Perth.

On a cold and wet Saturday morning, the weather was perfect for staying in bed rather than making the short trip over the water to Applecross. I have to admit regretting choosing the Raffles where the hotel can look spectacular on a hot sunny day but not so much on a wet dreary May morning. However, once I arrived I was led to our large table situated next to the log fire and the atmosphere was that of a warm comfortable breakfast room.

Being the first one there, I ordered a coffee. A long black for myself as usual, with an OJ to accompany it. The service was prompt and my coffee came just as 4 others arrived. The general consesus from the flat white drinkers was that the coffee was ok but they had definitely tasted better. Being the only long black drinker, I can safely say I have tasted better and not many worse. It was dark in colour with a weak crema but very very bitter and tasted like dishwater. We followed them up with tea and pineapple juice, both of which drew no complaints.

The menu itself was very basic but had all the favourites on it which everybody seemed happy to order. Big breakfast, eggs benedict, salmon with scrambled egg and pancakes with pecans and maple syrup(?) were ordered and the pancakes in particular got rave reviews. The prices were on the steep side but no more than I expected for Raffles. Most places I go now make me appreciate the prices in Scotland and also, I have to admit, Milkd.

As this is a "hunt for the perfect Eggs Benedict in Perth", I should probably stipulate what I look for in a good eggs benedict. They must be sitting on 2 halves of a toasted English Muffin. I prefer ham on top of the muffin but a nice piece of crispy bacon is acceptable. On top of the ham must be a good sized, SOFT egg, well poached with a creamy yolk that runs when you cut into it. The hollondaise sauce on the top must be a generous serving and must be creamy but not gloopy or lumpy. It should be a delicious combination of butter and egg yolks with a tangy twist of lemon and a touch of spice. Side portions of grilled tomato or spinach are welcome but not essential.

When the waitress brings out 2 sorry looking eggs sitting on a slice of toast, you know "The Hunt" is not going to end here. Add to that having one hardy and one soft(ish)y, this was not a good attempt. The bacon was well cooked and the sauce was nice. They were surprisingly tasty and we all finished our plates so it was not a complete fail but for me, a hard egg is a schoolboy error and a slice of toast in the place of English muffins is downright lazy.

Overall, the service and the atmosphere created was very good. The fire and the warm surroundings was a nice touch on a cold day. The coffee was disgusting but my pineapple juice was freshly squeezed and delicious. Everybody enjoyed their food and there were very little complaints but the eggs benedict were a big let down and for me, if they can't get that right, they have a lot to do to make up for it.

Scores on the doors:

Service 7/10
Atmosphere 7/10
Coffee 3/10
Food 5/10
Price 5/10

Final Score 27/50

Would I go again?

Probably not. Plenty other places to go that are cheaper and will give you soft eggs on a muffin. (Sorry to harp on about it, but a slice of toast? Come on!)


Raffles Hotel on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Milkd - North Perth

On Saturday morning I took a drive up to North Perth to see what else was there after my successful trip to The Pantry Door (To be returned to soon with a review in the pipeline) last week. Angove Street is the new up and coming coffee strip in Perth and I personally love the whole suburb as it has an old fashioned community feel to the place that you don't get elsewhere. Milkd has 2 premises, the flagship store in North Perth and also another identical shop in Maylands. They are very similar and the standard of service/food/drinks are exactly the same.

I have to admit, once I'd parked the car and was walking up Angove Street, I was reluctant to go to Milkd as it was stowed out the door with customers and I had also hoped for a repeat visit to The Pantry Door. It looked like there was people literally falling out the place, spilling onto the pavement outside and jostling to get back in. However, as I hovered outside, I saw a little table become available so I quickly nipped in and grabbed it so that was it. Decision made.

Despite the hustle and bustle of customers, it has a surprisingly relaxed feel to it. With a real up tempo drum and base CD on and a vibrant and bright colour scheme, you wouldn't think it would be too relaxing but it works. After a quick look at the diverse menu, I noticed how reasonable the prices were. Cheaper than most places I've been to and by the looks of the plates around me, not skimping on portions or quality. Most things on the menu sounded very fresh and different and I plumped for the tomato, feta and avocado on sourdough. I also added ham to it and the wait staff had absolutely no problem adding it to the order. As soon as I mentioned ordering food, he quickly told me that all food would be taking 20 minutes. No problem when you're pre-warned and expect a bit of a longer wait.

My drink came quickly. I ordered a long black to kick start me and I'd finished it well before the food arrived so I grabbed an OJ to have with my food (I always think it would be polite to offer free re-fills if your food takes longer than it takes to drink your first drink!).

The food did take longer than the aforementioned 20 minutes but only just and once it arrived, I soon realised it was worth the wait. A generous helping and the tomato and feta was such a nice change to the heavier poached eggs and hollondaise sauce I usually go for. The coffee was nice and the OJ, although expensive ($5.90!) was freshly squeezed.

Overall, this is one of the best breakfasts I've had in Perth. Great menu with different ideas and a twist to the norm. I do like my staples such as eggs benny and florentine and I always feel a bit cheated when they're not there as an option, but if Eggs Benedict had been on the menu, I wouldn't have discovered this excellent, fresher variation.

Scores on the doors:

Service 6/10
Atmosphere 7/10
Coffee 7/10
Food 8/10
Price 8/10

Final Score 36/50

Would I go again?

I'll be back! Great food and great service!


Milkd on Urbanspoon

Greenhouse - Perth

Greenhouse is Perth's latest "sustainable" restaurant/bar - it features roof-top gardens, recycling of water, worm farms for kitchen waste, recycled furniture, etc. Originally done in Melbourne by designer Joost Bakker, this one is a permanent feature at the new Enex100 on St Georges Terrace in the heart of Perth's CBD. It is instantly recognisable by its 4000 terracotta pots fastened to the outside walls. Or depending on what time of year you go, the outer walls covered in strawberry plants, that gives the look shown above, shamelessly stolen from another Breakfast blog.

I had Friday off work so we decided to try this place out on what must've been the coldest day of the year so far. I suspect my opinion of the place would've been slightly different had it been in the middle of summer but on a cold, windy Perth day, the cold metal decor, hard seats and big take away window wasn't what I was looking for. I do realise that these types of days in Perth are few and far between so I'm sure it's fine for 3/4 of the year.

If the decor was a little too "futuristic modern", the way they serve the food and drinks is very very cool. Looking at other tables, the yoghurt was served in a jam jar and the muesli was served in a big silver steel scoop. The bottles of alcohol behind the bar are not sitting on a shelf, but hanging from string from the ceiling. Good to look at and makes for a very interesting experience.

Onto the food. I wanted my favourite eggs on toast variation of avocado on toast with a poached egg on top. Having heard so much about the way they poach their eggs here and also having a curious fascination for the mushy peas with eggs I'd read about on the Breakfast In Perth blog. I looked through the menu but chickened out of the peas and eggs and went for my usual. Ordered with a long black, I didn't have long to wait. The service was excellent, waited on by a South American guy who couldn't have been more helpful.

I enjoy various ways to drink my coffee but I am a strong believer that you can only really make a judgement about a new coffee from drinking a long black or a flat white. My long black was good. A dark crema with a strong deep flavour. Not to everybodys taste but just the way i like it.

Now, on a Friday morning with not too many people in the cafe, eggs on toast shouldn't be so difficult. Should it? To be fair, it didn't seem to take too long for them to bring it out but when they did, the toast, the avocado and the amazingly well poached eggs were stone cold. Not luke warm or on the way down. Stone cold. Whether they had been left on the counter and had been chilled by the strong breeze flying in the big take away window, I don't know. But it was a massive disappointment, especially after examining and marvelling over the eggs and the presentation of them. I'd still love to know how to poach an egg like that and if I ever do go back, I will have a word with the chef to see if he'll spill his secret.

All in all, it was a strange experience which was somewhat disappointing after the hype I'd heard about the place. I'd like to give it another go in summer to see if the cold feel to the place is more suited to a hot summers day. It certainly didn't do itself any favours on this blustery Autumn day. The coffee was good, service good and the presentation of the food was second to none. The prices were reasonable (for Perth) but still think most places are disgustingly overpriced here. Unfortunately, the lingering memory and the first thing I will think of when I hear the name of this establishment, will be chewing on stone cold eggs and cold, soggy toast.

Scores on the doors:

Service 7/10
Atmosphere 4/10
Coffee 6/10
Food 2/10
Price 5/10

Final Score 24/50

Would I go again?

Strangely, I feel obliged to give them a second chance. Possibly a bad day at the office? Will be back in summer, get your act together for then Greenhouse!


Greenhouse on Urbanspoon