Perth Norg

No it’s not Perth’s answer to the Page 3 girls, It’s actually the latest new style of news website produced locally, for Perth people.

PerthNorg (a contraction of News Organisation), is a community driven website featuring news, sport, lifestyle, and basically anything else you can think of that people want to read about. The idea is that anyone who registers with the site can submit stories, photos, links etc, and then vote on other stories, based on their level of interest/relevance. That means the most important and/or interesting stories will rise to the top, and the rest will float away into the never never of cyberspace.

It’s great for anyone who is now so entrenched in the world of blogs and online media that they cringe when reading a magazine, and look desperately for a comment box under each article in the newspaper (namely me). Collaborative journalism at it’s most raw and basic.

So please, especially if you’re a Perth resident, head over to the side, check it out, and if there’s some news affecting you that you think should be on there… add it ! It’s that simple. No longer should this town be shackled by the bonds of media conglomerates telling us what the news is.

Ok, that’s as “fight the power” as I’m going to get for a Friday afternoon… I should also note that I have a regular blog/column over at PerthNorg, so you’ll find some of my articles popping up there too, once I figure out what I’m going to write.

Must Wine Bar

Saturday night in the big city of Perth. What to do, what to do…

Sharon and I had decided it was time to head out and do something for once, rather than sitting at home in the safe little bubble that is my world of supposedly gourmet cooking. The interesting thing about running a food blog, is that when you want to look for a place to go and eat, you invariablely get sent back to your own website for more information. At which point you also get a chance to go over just how funny you were the first time you wrote whatever you happened to write (or possibly cringe at how lame you sounded).

So after a little checking and a few phone calls, it was decided. Must Wine Bar. Home of one of Perth’s best wine lists, some of the trendiest waiters in town, and some very tasty food to go with it.

I’ve been to Must many times before, although mainly to drink. It was the scene of a rather boistrous birthday party a couple of years ago where I think I over stayed my welcome after shattering 3 wine glasses. Good times.

Must is a funky place. It’s in Mt Lawley, which makes it funky by default…but it doesn’t rest on its funky laurels… It steps its game up big time. The place is always full of young sexy people (and old sexy people, and a few people who are neither young nor sexy, but who dress well enough to get past the bouncer).

We rolled in at around 9pm, only to be told by the funky host waiter that the place was fully booked, and they wouldn’t be able to seat us. Having a quick look into the restaurant part, I could tell that was blatantly false, and I was also quite happy to have a wine or two at the bar while waiting for a table, so I says to him… i says (in a cockney accent) “Can you go and check if there are any tables coming free soon…”. So he wanders off down the back and has a look around, has a quiet word in the ear of a few of the other funky waiters, and then comes back and tells me… “Well, maybe we can fit you in if you can be out by 10:15pm”. Now some people would be terribly put off by such time limits… Not me… I like a challenge. Firstly it means I’m going to get fast service, and it also means I can test my speed eating skills out… in case the world of competitive eating ever comes knocking on my door.

So we are seated, get some menus, and quickly get down to choosing the wine and mains we’re going to have. Making sure that we are ready in time so as not to cause them any strife due to double booking. 15 minutes later however, with all of our decisions made… no sign of any waiters. No-one hovering over us tentatively, waiting to rush off to the kitchen post haste with our express post delivery. What’s more strange is that now the restaurant is half empty, and looks extremely unlikely to fill back up to capacity. So why the waiter felt the need to tell us there was no room in the first place is a mystery to me… but whatever… we were in.

I ordered the Beef Cheek Ravioli in a Wild Mushroom Jus, and Sharon ordered the Steak and Chips (it wasn’t called steak and chips on the menu, but I forget it’s fancy name… and it was basically steak and chips anyway). I also ordered some minted beans as a side, and a bottle of Prunotto 2003 Barbera D’Alba (which was a delicious big fruity well rounded red wine).

The meals came out soon enough and I have to say mine was delicious. The beef cheek ravioli was melt in your mouth texture, and the wild mushroom sauce over it was a great earthy compliment. The Barbera went really well with this too. Sharon’s steak dish was less exciting. It came with the option of either bernaise or poivrade sauce, she chose poivrade, which was tangy, but not particularly nice. The steak itself was well cooked, but really, it was just a steak, some frites, and a small bowl of the sauce. Not exactly worth the $30+ dollars.

Then on to dessert and I chose a sticky fig pudding with vanilla bean ice cream, while Sharon had a chocolate tart with orange ice cream (?) I think. mine was really nice, and Sharon’s not so nice. The orange infusion ice cream didn’t really work for me, and the rest of the dessert was kind of mediocre. Perhaps we’re just more easily pleased with the traditional sweet styles of dessert.

By this time we were done. The bottle of wine was fully polished off and the offer of Vittoria coffee (shudder) politely turned down.

There are a lot of things to like about Must, but it’s not for everyone. It’s reasonably expensive. Most mains are in the $25 – $35 range, and with side dishes, dessert, and wine, it adds up to quite a substantial bill, which is perhaps belied by the fact that it’s essentially attached to a bar. It’s also quite loud due to the bar section right next to the restaurant section, and if you aren’t into being surrounded by lots of trendy people dressed up for a night out, then it might not be your kind of place.

I personally love the atmosphere and the food, and the wine list makes me salivate every time I look over it. The waiters (when they aren’t turning people away from a half full dining room), are very knowledgeable about the wines and will provide you with a sommelier service if you ask for suggestions. The food in most cases is excellent, but I’d choose your meal carefully so as not to be disappointed by something that sounds fancier than it actually is.

It was great for us though… a chance to get out and do some people watching, and also add a couple of new dishes to my “I think i could make this better at home” list… which is growing just as fast as my ego is :)

All in all though a great night, and we will no doubt be back many times in the future.

Must Winebar
519 Beaufort Street
Tel: (08) 9328 8255
Fax: (08) 9328 8355


My Favourite Perth Cafes

Just a quick list of caf�s in Perth that I think do great coffee, and/or have really nice food or atmosphere. The list is short, but mainly because since getting my own espresso machine, I don’t feel the need to go out as often to drink bad coffee, when I can make equally bad coffee at home (or much much better :) ).

So the list…

Core Espresso Under Allendale Square on St Georges Tce, currently owned by the effervescent Corey, a passionate man who knows his coffee. They use their own blend of coffee roasted by 5 Senses. Mainly caters for the business crowd, and as such they are only open Monday to Friday, and it’s all takeaway. Still, they are probably doing the best coffee in Perth at present, and love to chat with coffee geeks of all varieties. Core barista Vanessa recently came third in the WA Barista Competition, and everyone really knows their stuff. Espresso fans, your cause is not lost.

Lemon EspressoSt Quentins Ave, Claremont. Next to a dodgy looking Japanese takeaway shop is a simple green neon sign saying “CAFE”. I think its the last remnants of a previous failed venture, in the location now held by Nolan of Lemon Espresso. Nolan and Tess, manager and barista, came second and fourth respectively in the WA Barista Competition. The place oozes cool, and despite being filled with Claremont socialite wannabe’s, has a great relaxed vibe (in part because of Nolan’s collection of Kiwi dub albums). They too use a custom 5 Senses blend, and Nolan knows exactly how to make it sing. Try the pistachio nougat.

RocketfuelStirling Hwy, Nedlands (near corner of Broadway). Another custom 5 Senses blend (seeing a trend here?). These guys also do takeaway coffee only. The unique thing about Rocketfuel is that they have a funky drive through section. Yes i know, drive throughs are bad in most situations, but when you’re using great coffee, on excellent equipment (3 group LaMarzocco Linea), and you know how to make it well, then the drive through convenience is very worthwhile. These guys were the source of my morning coffee most days when I worked in the area, and I’d happily go back anytime. You pay by the shot, which makes sense really, and their mini pies got me through many a breakfastless morning.

VoyageWest Coast Hwy, Sorrento (down the road from Hillary’s). I’m more of a fan of the food at this place than the coffee. They use all organic produce which is always really fresh and tasty. I have driven the 45 minutes to get there on many occasions just to have the bacon and eggs. They use a Fair trade blend roasted by Toby’s Estate (from East Timor i think), which the first time I went was amazingly good, but hasn’t lived up to its own standards ever since. I’m a bit skeptical of how fresh it would be, considering Toby’s Estate is based in NSW… But depending on who makes it for you, it’s still a really nice cup.

Just Espresso Preston Point Rd, Como. I must admit that this only gets a light mention. I’ve only been here a couple of times, and have my doubts about it from a coffee geek point of view. The place looks really nice, and the wait staff and barista I chatted to were really friendly. The problem starts with the fact that the barista didn’t know when his coffee was roasted, and also couldn’t tell me what was in it, because he doesn’t know. The owner claims to have both fair trade coffee and a Cup of Excellence bean in the blend, amongst 7 types of beans in total… Which all just seems a bit off. Without saying which cup of excellence he’s using, from which year, and in what quantity, or which fair trade bean… then it all seems a bit empty. Having said that though, I ordered an espresso and was pleasantly suprised with how good it was. Not as complex as Core, but definitely very drinkable. Food and atmosphere were also nice.

Soto Espresso Beaufort St, Mt Lawley. I used to think the coffee at Soto was the best in Perth. It’s a hangout for funky Mt Lawley types (who are kind of cross between Leederville types and Subi types), which looks nice, and has a generally friendly vibe. They use Essenza coffee, which is roasted locally by Mena Samios in Mt Lawley. I’ve since moved on to other places where I prefer the coffee, but I still like Soto for a nice breakfast and a reasonable coffee. Coffee is really dependant on who is making it for you. A great barista can bring out a weak coffees best features (or smother its bad features with well textured milk), a poor barista will kill both the milk and the espresso, and tell you they’ve been doing it for years, so they know best. Not that this has happened at Soto, but I’m skeptical of any place that relies too much on reputation.

Other than those listed above, honorable mentions for MilkD in North Perth, Rosso on St Georges Tce, Tank under London Court, and of course the ever hip Cafe 130 in Leederville (where i am still the reigning Connect 4 champion).

Apologies to the majority of the cafe’s in Fremantle, which I never seem to make it to, and to anywhere else that has so far eluded my hawk-like radar.

Thats all I can think of for now… Suggestions are welcome in the comments, but hopefully this gives you an idea of a few nice places to go.