Tag Archives: eastperth

Bench Espresso

Rejoice East side CBD workers, good coffee has arrived to your humble lunch bar existences. No longer do you need to “make your own” or frequent an awful chain for your morning coffee fix. Bench Espresso is the newest addition to the cafe scene on the East side of Hay St, and they’re doing a fantastic job.

Vanessa Moore is the owner and chief evangelist at Bench, who takes it name from the law courts across the road, and a desire to be the benchmark for coffee in Perth. Vanessa comes from excellent coffee pedigree, she started out her coffee journey at the infamous Core Espresso in the city (arguably the starting point for specialty coffee in Perth), and then moved to Epic Espresso in West Perth, where she helped manage the store and ran the barista school. After Epic changed hands Vanessa headed off to Melbourne and did stints at Market Lane and Three Bags Full before coming back to Perth to start the task of opening a place of her very own.

The style of the cafe is very simple. Slotted into a narrow glass box at the front of an apartment block, with large glass walls and a high ceiling. The layout is minimal with a kind of modern Nordic feel. It’s surprisingly warm for a place where the predominant colour comes from the brush stone benches, but that’s because light just pours into the cafe from all around.

The coffee is great as you would expect from someone of Vanessa’s skill and determination. She’s running 3 different Mazzer Robur grinders each with different blends in them, one for milk, one for espresso, and a single origin. I’m assuming the blends will change regularly as they refine the flavours, and as new and interesting beans arrive at 5 Senses (the roaster). The shots are pulled as short doubles for the most part, rich in flavour and texture. Coffee is such a variable and subjective thing that I’m loath to give tasting notes for specific drinks, but suffice to say the blends are designed to give the customer the best possible experience in each cup. I’d strongly suggest trying the milk blend with a cappucino and the espresso blend as an espresso or long black. There is quite a bit of difference to the body and acidity of different coffees that will lend themselves to certain drinks better than others.

They also have filter coffee on offer via the Clever Coffee Dripper, basically a device with a paper filter inside it that your use for pour over coffee, a method of preparation that retains much more origin characteristics of the beans than espresso does.

One of the other things that has survived the passage of time from previous incarnations in other cafes is the hot chocolate made using Belgian couverture chocolate incorporated in molten form from a bain marie. It’s a decadent way for chocoholics to get their fix.

Whilst it’s still early days for Bench, they are already having a great impact in the area, and along with the guys at Cafe 54, they’re finally giving workers on the east some good alternatives for CDB coffee without compromises. I’m looking forward to seeing where Vanessa’s coffee journey goes from here.

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Bench Espresso
471 hay street, Perth
08 9221 1131
Mon – Fri (7am – 3pm)

Largesse Dining @ Amuse

Largesse Dining @ Amuse

If Largesse Dining is what happens when a bunch of chefs get together and start drinking, then I may have to start taking bottles of tequila with me every time I go out. Let’s keep these guys drinking and hopefully they’ll all start feeling the love on a regular basis and put together plenty more amazing meals.

I was fortunate to be among the first people to attend one of these events, which I tip to be a popular and well patronised institution in no short time.

So basically without too much waffling because this event was a month or so ago, and all the cool kids have already written about it, 6 chefs and a certain sexy Eurasian food writer got together to plan a dinner that would rival the Power Rangers and Captain Planet kids for the combined power of their culinary skills. Each chef picked a card and got given a dish number to prepare to showcase their skills at the same time as fitting in with what everyone else was doing. Wine matchings were provided by Thumbprint Wines, and Myattsfield Vineyards, and all proceeds for the dinner went to Food Bank WA, a fantastic charity who do great work in distributing food to people who really need it.

So the menu for the meal looked a little something like this:

Goats Cheese, Bunya Nut, Tortilla
Kiren Mainwaring – Dear Friends

Snow Crab, Scampi, Scallop
Todd Stuart – Bouchard

Porcini and Spinach Rotolo
Jason Jujnovich – Divido

Salmon, Rabbit, Beetroot
Stephen Clarke – Clarkes of North Beach

Pork, Black Pudding, Molasses
Hadleigh Troy – Restaurant Amusé

Au Chocolat
Scott O’Sullivan – Red Cabbage Food + Wine

And if you’re wondering how any of those dishes actually looked, you can find out below:

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Personal highlights for me was the gin and vodka punch on arrival (soup kitchen style), the deep fried fish skin appetizers, the wonderful selection of wines (notably the Myattsfield Viognier), Hadleigh Troy’s pork with hay smoked molasses, and having Clint Nolan (head chef of Harvest) as my waiter for the night.

Sadly they have a ‘no double dipping’ policy, which means you can’t book consecutive events (to make sure lots of people get a chance to attend), so it looks like I won’t be able to make the next one, but fortunately my identical twin brother Mark still can !

Jaws Mint: Gourmet Sushi

Jaws Mint:  Gourmet Sushi Jaws Mint:  Gourmet Sushi

Sushi, one of those foods that people claim to love so much, and then quickly ruin it by saying “but I hate raw fish, it makes me gag”. I am not the worlds biggest sushi or sashimi fan, but I do love the simplicity and the gentle philosophy of Japanese food, which for me is embodied by the notion that quality and freshness of produce will beat any amount of preparation.

A single slice of high quality sashimi grade tuna or salmon needs nothing else to make it a taste sensation.

The people at Jaws Mint understand this concept. With the sushi train in the former Hoyts movie theatre in the city closed down, and the other sushi train in the Hay St Mall buzzing with a considerable throng of daily devotees, Jaws Mint is the newest shop to enter the Jaws empire.

Situated on the corner of Hay St and Hill St in the city, and directly opposite the Perth Mint, it’s a return to a more classic style of sushi experience. With a series of small tables and long bar running almost the length of the restaurant, behind which a solitary chef pretends to prepare dishes for everyone.

The real work however, happens out the back. Behind a tantalising curtain glimpses of furious activity can be seen as sushi and sashimi is sliced and served, and piping hot pots of chawan mushi are delivered to tables with customary warnings that you will burn yourself (and you will).

The menu is simple but well featured with enough styles of dishes to keep things interesting for everyone. There’s even a tasting menu for the less adventurous, to provide a structured overview into good Japanese eating.

Whilst initially disappointed that we wouldn’t be going to the sushi train, with it’s infinite novelty. My dinner companions for the evening were soon placated with a stack of very tasty dishes. We had some beef tataki ($15), some chicken kaarage ($9), some chawan mushi ($5?) (yes i did burn myself), some tuna sushi rolls, and a couple of 17 piece sets of nigiri sushi ($35).

Jaws Mint:  Gourmet Sushi

Of course, I don’t seem to be able to go to a restaurant like this without making life difficult for the waitresses. I confuse them, ask questions that aren’t on the script, order too much food, and generally cause problems. What this meant is that instead of receiving all of our food, we got half of it. Which was probably enough anyway. Eventually the rest of the food came and we enjoyed it all. I felt a little disappointed that sitting at the bar didn’t give me any more opportunity to be entertained or watch the action of the kitchen though… and I got more and more suspicious of what exactly was going on behind the curtain as the night went on.

In the end though, the food was great, and the service was polite and giggly with a hint of apologetic (as you’d expect of a Japanese place).

If you’re looking for something a little upmarket in the form of a traditional sushi bar, Jaws Mint may be just the spot.

Jaws Mint Restaurant – “Gourmet Sushi”
323 Hay St, East Perth
Phone: 9225 4573
Mon – Sat: 6pm – 10pm
BYO

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