So if you’ve just finding out about Greenhouse for the first time via my website, you can consider yourself a little slow to the party.
Not that that’s a bad thing of course. I’ve always considered myself 80% tortoise and 20% hare. That you get there in the end is all the really matters, and any restaurant owner will tell you it’s the long term regulars that make the business worth being in, not us fly by nighters who swagger in on opening night, never to be seen again.
So Greenhouse is/was the most interesting place to hit Perth in quite a while. The concept first started in Melbourne as a temporary installation in Federation Square, constructed in 14 days primarily from recyclable materials. I could warble on about the idea of the place for a while, but I’d really only be restating what’s already been said, so here is something directly from the Greenhouse Perth website (which has lots of background info) about what they’re trying to achieve.
The Greenhouse is about designing and operating better places for people. Places that let us touch natural materials, understand where everyday things come from and taste fresh food straight from the garden
All the features of the Greenhouse are carefully considered first for their practicality, recyclability, life cycle and embodied energy and then for their aesthetics and cost. By putting each decision through this rigorous process, it is hoped that the Greenhouse can provide information and examples to builders, designers, restaurateurs and the public, regarding their daily choices of materials, ingredients, and practices.
What this means practically is that the insulation is straw, the flooring in places is former milk crates, the tables and chairs are recycled timber, and smart little touches have been made around the place to make the construction simpler, and the overall sustainability of the place high.
Now all of that is nice and interesting, and I think a great approach to take to designing spaces that are environmentally efficient and use less resources. But no matter the concept, if the food is bad, I’ll be leaving it to the hippies to enjoy on their own.
Fortunately for Greenhouse, the food is not bad. In fact it’s very good. The kitchen is headed up by Matt Stone, former sous chef at Star Anise, and briefly at Pata Negra before irreconcilable differences meant he looked elsewhere. The boy knows how to cook. The food at Greenhouse is considered without being pretentious and the back to basics produce driven approach is a lovely natural way to eat that definitely fits the Greenhouse agenda.
On previous visits I’ve tried the “bits and pieces” board featured cheeses, meat balls, salami, salads, and pickled vegetables, as well as an outstanding skirt steak with green papaya salad, and slow cooked lamb necks. The food is not overworked, it’s simply but beautifully plated and tastes great. Bread is house made using Eden Valley Biodynamic flour from Dumbleyung in the Wheatbelt (who are also members and supporters of Slow Food Perth. I love the focus they have on seasonal ingredients and I think it’s the kind of food more people should be cooking.
Greenhouse Perth is split into two levels, with a restaurant and bar downstairs and a separate bar overlooking St Georges Tce upstairs, surrounded by a fairly extensive garden growing all manner of herbs and vegetables, and the whole place trapped inside walls of strawberry plants. According to Matt, not all the herbs they use come from the garden (simply due to the quantity needed and timing) but where possible as much produce as they can grow themselves is used in the food they serve.
Greenhouse is part owned and managed by Paul Aron. He’s had a background in cocktail making and the wine trade, and that shows when you take a look at the booze selection and the wine list. It’s extensive, interesting, and whilst it’s not parochially West Australian, all the best we have to offer are represented.
For me, Greenhouse is a little view into the future of restaurants and the way things could go. The compromise to comfort and style is minimal and the food, service, and atmosphere are great. I hope it’s not just seen as a novelty venue, because the thing I like the most is that thought has gone into all levels of the design. Where conventional choices of bulding material and design are involved, much of the decisions are made already, but in places like Greenhouse, right down to how the toilets work, there is a considerable amount of time spent thinking about how the right balance of function and efficiency can be achieved.
If this considered approach to design and food can be continued in other venues then you can wrap me up in chicken wire and roll me on down to the next one.
100 St Georges Terrace, Perth
Phone: (08) 9481 8333
20 thoughts on “Greenhouse Perth”
Oh Matt, this place is _so_ last quarter.
Please go try their breakfast, if you haven’t already. It’s particularly good if you go during the week when you’re not working, as the food is complemented beautifully by a feeling of smugness as you watch people rushing to work down the terrace whilst you enjoy a leisurely feed.
Chicken wire is at the ready.
Conor: I can barely keep up a posting schedule of once every few months. Last quarter is about as recent as I’m ever likely to get. 80% tortoise remember…
I haven’t been there for breakfast because the pain endured getting up that early during the week would defeat any chance I had of enjoying the meal when I
got there, and on the weekend it’s either sleep or dim sum that gets my morning vote. You’ll notice scant mention of breakfast options around this blog (of the non “all day” variety) for exactly those reasons. The smugness I can manage though…
Cin: Enough with the Melbourne. You people get everything over there dammit. Let Perth have a little bit of happiness for once :)
Edward: That would be my hand… So you may be right. One thing I forgot to mention on my last ‘how to’ photography post was my sniper like ability to slow to my heart rate down through breathing exercises that mean I can gain an extra 1/4 of a second in shutter speed from lack of shake. Either that or I have poor circulation and I may be calling your practice soon…
I remember them at Fed Square – we had to sign up for membership’ before getting in (???)
I wonder if they’ll put something up in Melbourne again.
I’m a little concerned about the pictured hand in the first photo – it looks a little blue. . . they must have been holding their breath for the shot :)
Hey there Matt – good to have you back!
I never went away Carolyn :) You can always count on me for an irregular posting schedule.
Just a little correction – the website is actually http://www.greenhouseperth.com/ – looks awesome, might have to visit very soon!
Thanks for that Josh… Mental slip when typing that out… and then completely stuffed it up the second time. Glad someone is paying attention.
And yeh, get down there and check it out soon. I went again on the weekend and had great battered mussels, manchego balls, and skirt steak with romesco sauce. All very tasty.
What are the prices like?
Call me an old cynic, but………..vegemite jars? Water out of a watering can? Why does the word “gimmick” keep popping into my head?
Al: prices are quite reasonable I think. Around $15 – $20 for most things for lunch (which is when I’d suggest going). Have a look at the photo of the menu.
Linda: You’re an old cynic :) A vessel is a vessel in my book. It’s quaint and a little kitsch, but it’s not hurting anyone.
Hi Matthew, did you know that the Eden Valley Flour is milled in Corrigin?
Thanks for dropping by and for your note of congratulations. And it has to be said: your blog is just genius.
You’re too kind Hila. I think I’d go with idiot savant before I got to genius though :)
I was really lloking forward to going there and booked for lunch for 3. Firstly there was no table even though we booked and we had to wait. Secondly the noise was incredible there is no damping at all, could hardly hear each other talking. Then when the food arrived it was good, but there was a lot more plate than food. One of my girlfriends (the skinny one) then had to buy something else to eat on the way back to work, as she was still hungry.
I hope it improves as I Loved the idea. I dont mind paying, but I expect to get more than 3 or 4 small mouthfuls on a plate.
Your blog is delicious!
Hmmm Grreeenhouse! interesting concept, how you grow out of season plants underneath a building on the south side as a facade seems quite cheap and uninteresting. At least have the decency to spend necessary money to install this installation correctly. We arrived to dead and shrivelled chaos of death of plant at the mercy of the idea! ….the decor was cute as was the service but alas the rest was dodgy as! and unless you want the wind blown unnecessarily up one’s…. then best left to others who love bad music and costly alcohol upstairs in a wind blown terrace, good luck to those that dare…..some would say this small development is good infrastructure for something a little more sincere, ie don’t take the piss!! Greenhouse.
Novel idea but a con.
“how you grow out of season plants underneath a building on the south side as a facade”
Install cheap artificial lighting and pretend you can grow a few leaves to supply yourself. LOL
Points duly noted. I am a little sad that the garden isn’t as functional as it could be, and the sight of dead strawberries isn’t the most appealing on the way in, but I think overall I like the fact that an effort has been made to do something other than the norm, and whether it’s executed as well as it could be doesn’t necessarily make me think they’re taking the piss. Seasons being what they are, I’d also suggest autumn/winter isn’t the greatest time to sample the upstairs bar, but I spent some good times there over summer.
I just stumbled across your blog through a google search. I absolutely love your pictures. I was wondering if you could tell me what camera and lens you are using?