The Truffle and Wine Co., Manjimup

It’s a given that any foodie’s trip down south will include the Margaret River Wine Region, but there’s a place that’s sometimes overlooked when it shouldn’t be.

All hail one of the world’s leading producing towns of the indescribable truffles, Manjimup.

The town’s cool climate is the ideal place to grow black perigord truffles, which have become a necessity for chefs across the globe, and has become of the world’s most successful truffle-producing regions.

If you ever go past Manjimup, be sure to stop in to the Truffle and Wine Co.: we’re lucky to live so close to some of the world’s best produce. It’s a short drive from the main road and is in the middle of nowhere, perfect for a relaxed lunch stop.

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According to the attendant at the cellar door the price for a kilo of black perigord truffles has fallen to $2500, so they are by no means a cheap investment to impress your friends at a dinner party. However, it only costs about $20 for truffle-infused olive oil, dressing or salt with that unique taste.

A lunch date at the Truffle and Wine Co. was a great excuse to explore Manjimup and surrounds while bringing in the New Year. I like to think that spending the first day of 2015 at the Co is a nice theme to set for the rest of the year.

Nearly all of the cafe’s menu involves truffles in one way or another, so if you’re not an enthusiast it’s nigh impossible to get away from the powerful flavour.

I ordered the pumpkin and feta linguine with a simple truffle-infused olive oil dressing, and I was not disappointed. Simplicity is better when it comes to truffles – they’re so darn expensive and full of flavour that there’s no excuse to try and hide them.

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The Truffle and Wine Co. is well worth a day trip to Manjimup (and even a quick trip to Pemberton with a stop-in at Picardy on the way back) to load up on everything truffle and unwind amongst the peaceful grounds.

Just don’t forget to take something from the shop with you – the wine and truffle-based delicacies will add something special to home cooking, and who doesn’t like to cook with wine?

Open every day expect Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Good Friday from 10am to 4pm.

The Truffle & Wine Co on Urbanspoon

The Truffle and Wine Co also allows the public to participate in truffle hunts from late May to late August.

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The Precinct, Victoria Park

There’s something oddly satisfying about taking yourself out for breakfast, if only for a short one.

The perfect morning, despite feeling worse for wear, called for a visit to The Precinct: a place I’d heard good things about but never really bothered to see for myself.

This hip little place is smack bang in the middle of Vic Park and doesn’t look like much from the outside, but upon closer inspection there’s something quite coolly understated about it.

I opted for a bench seat so I could stare meaningfully in the distance. It could have worked against me, though, because I was forgotten for a while after my coffee came. Still, it was a delicious coffee.

After a week of craving something sweet for breakfast I decided to get it out of my system and ordered the banana bread with berry compote, mascarpone and candied almonds and a fresh orange juice.

I wasn’t disappointed. If I wasn’t craving sugar so much I think the massive stack of banana bread (it’s basically cake, right?) would’ve put me into a sugar coma.

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The top piece was deliciously soft and moist with a kick of cinnamon, but as the stack got closer to the bottom the bread became drier and drier. However, smothering the pieces in the light mascarpone and tangy berry compote with a strategically placed almond on top managed to do the trick.

Sitting at the bench listening to quiet indie music and busy cafe breakfast noises while trying to decide whether I’d eaten too much was a morning well spent at The Precinct.

Except maybe next time I’ll order something a bit less I-feel-sorry-for-myself-so-I’m-having-cake-for-breakfast and a bit more I’m-a-functioning-adult-and-I-eat-healthy.

Monday to Friday 9am – late
Saturday 8am – late
Sunday 8am – 10pm

The Precinct on Urbanspoon

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Miss Kitty’s Saloon, Inglewood

As a replacement for the old eyesore Avenue 9 on the northern end of Beaufort Street, Miss Kitty’s Saloon is decidedly much more interesting.

The Western-themed bar/restaurant is as kitschy as they come despite looking rather ordinary from the outside, decked out with old saloon doors, a worn piano and a background soundtrack of Johnny Cash.

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I’m not sure whether it was because it was a Wednesday night or because it’s the norm, but as soon as we sat down the service was hard to fault.

Miss Kitty’s Saloon is dedicated to the fine (albeit fatty) cuisine of the US and Canada, so those looking for something a little more complicated and upper class should head further up Beaufort Street.

I barely had time to look at the wine list when our waitress came back and took our complete order, which would normally annoy me but since it was the most disgusting weather that I’d seen in a while it wasn’t hard to make a decision – particularly on red wine.

Taking the saloon feel to another level we were given a bowl of peanuts to shell and by the time our food came we’d only just finished the entire bowl.

The traditional-style buffalo wings came out first, and for the Wednesday special of $14.80 it was total value for money.

They’re pretty much exactly what you’d expect: greasy, crunchy, hard to eat and drenched in US culture (and mild sauce).

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However, since I’m not a massive fan of fried chicken, I found the trout croquettes with pickled onion and capers a nice change. Not only were they tasty but the trout was smooth and almost melt-in-your-mouth.

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The roast duck waffles with sweet potato were possibly one of the most deliciously different dishes I’ve ever had. I never imagined that duck, maple syrup, waffles and sweet potato would mix but I was so wrong. The sweetness of the maple syrup paired with the roasted duck was perfect, and the duck-to-waffle ratio was almost even – there was even duck inside the waffles, which I was quite excited about at the time.

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For two coffees, a glass of Pinot Noir and four dishes a bill of $78 isn’t even remotely expensive.

Miss Kitty’s Saloon is summed up in its mac and cheese: it’s okay, it’s simple and it’s fun, but you don’t really expect better than good from a place that serves US-style food and drinks.

It’s just a shame it’s away from the main Mount Lawley strip.

 

Miss Kitty’s Saloon

882 Beaufort Street

Open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday.

Miss Kitty's Saloon on Urbanspoon

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The Hardware Store, Scarborough

It seems as though most of Perth’s new eateries are taking the industrial chic route but this really nails it*.

It doesn’t really look like much, but this a-little-out-of-the-way cafe is super busy and – tries to be – super hipster.

Strolling into the Hardware Store at about 9:30am on a Saturday morning I expected to be shooed out with a flurry of hands and cries of, “We’re just too busy, come back in an hour!”. However, we spied a spot at the end of a long table and grabbed our own menus.

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At the Hardware Store you order your own food, grab your own cutlery and collect your own menus – maybe that’s why the prices were cheaper than the usual breakfast establishments.

About five minutes after I ordered the granola buttermilk pancakes with blueberries, pomegranate coulis and clotted cream ($14) with a fresh pineapple juice ($7) it was already in front of me – the quickest service I’ve ever had in Perth.

Whether it was because they were sitting there waiting from a previous muddled order or because they’re easy to put together it didn’t matter: the pancakes were flavoursome but dense with small clusters of granola and a fresh tang of blueberries.

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I was looking forward to a thick coulis but was disappointed. Even though it tasted okay it was incredibly watery with a few tiny bits of pomegranate floating in the mix, making it hard to eat.

On another note, everything seems to arrive in jam jars now – my friend’s muesli was presented in a massive jar and so was my refreshing pineapple juice, a perfect way to start the morning after being at the beach.

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By no means is The Hardware Store up there with Perth’s best establishments but it’s kind of cool, it’s cheap and the food is simple: sometimes that’s all you want when it’s scorching outside and you don’t have many coins in your pocket.

The Hardware Store Cafe and Eatery

117 Brighton Road

Scarborough

Open for breakfast and lunch every day.

*apologies for the poor wordplay.

The Hardware Store Cafe & Eatery on Urbanspoon

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Tuck Shop, Northbridge

Tucked away in the quieter streets of Northbridge is Tuck Shop, a tiny but busy, unpretentious cafe with a distinctly corner shop feel.

Astroturf-covered seats and chic chairs line the outside of the corner cafe whose interior, while not as bright and breezy as you’d expect, is full of produce, chalkboard-style walls and funky lights.

For 8am on a Saturday it was surprisingly busy considering it was in a quieter area of the Northbridge foodie scene – although, in some circles, that could add to its appeal.

It didn’t take long for our waitress to arrive to take our coffee order, but it was quite a while before I could down my much-needed espresso.

For a small cafe the menu was long and diverse: you could order chilli con carne or pork belly for breakfast instead of the usual bacon and eggs.

I opted for a more breakfast-oriented option and ordered the bruschetta with goat’s curd, avocado, basil salad, tomato and grilled bacon, while my friend ordered the chilli con carne.

The time between ordering and food-on-table wasn’t the greatest, but if you’re in a rush on a Saturday morning then you’re not doing it right.

The bruschetta was probably the best I’ve had in Perth. It was creamy and tangy without being unbalanced, and the bacon was a great addition to an already well-loved breakfast option. The basil salad, drizzled in a balsamic reduction, was clean and fresh – exactly what you feel like first thing in the morning.

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The chilli con carne looked tasty and rich, like it could fill you up until well past lunchtime. I was given the thumbs up by my breakfast buddy – it was clearly a winner.

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Although the service left a little to be desired as everyone appeared to be quite stressed, the food they put on the table is delicious.

Tuck Shop is one of those places that you wouldn’t know much about unless you’d been directed there by a friend considering it’s not in the heart of the cafe strip, but it’s certainly more than worth the extra two minute walk.

Just don’t get there after 9am – you might have to wait in a fairly lengthy line. But that’s always a good sign.

Tuck Shop

178 Newcastle Street

Open for breakfast and lunch every day except Monday.

Tuck Shop Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Long time between drinks.

I know it’s been quite a while between posts.

It’s been a busy month or so with moving house and getting settled while trying to find the time and cash to splurge on dining, but finally everything is back to normal.

Here’s to more shenanigans!

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Circa, Mount Lawley

Brand new bistro and wine bar Circa on Mount Lawley’s Beaufort Street strip is easy to miss, painted black and tucked away opposite Malt.
Once I walked in I was taken aback. Although it was dimly lit and narrow, it was stylish and overly confident.
Unfortunately, we were sat at the back corner of the restaurant next to the doors to the kitchen so we didn’t experience the ambience the designers were going for.

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To start we ordered the chorizo, smashed broad beans and manchego crostini and field mushroom and valdeon arancini with arrabiata sauce and were both surprised and disappointed – the chorizo dish was packed full of flavour but the arancini were a little lacklustre as the rice wasn’t fully cooked.

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Our waitress promptly cleared our table as we ordered our mains and a bottle of Salitage pinot noir.
Minutes later we were presented with a wine that we didn’t order, and when we asked for the correct wine we were told that she “didn’t think we wanted the more expensive bottle”. Slightly insulted, we thanked her when our pinot arrived and anticipated our main.
My spaghetti with crab, lime, chilli, white wine and crème fraiche came moments later and I nearly forgot all about our wine mishap; it was beautifully presented and smelled delicious.

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However, my partner was disappointed after being given the wrong main. Originally he’d ordered the ricotta gnocchi with tomato and pecorino ragu and basil crumbs but was given the beetroot ravioli. The two sound nothing alike, and the waiter was most apologetic that our waitress had gotten it wrong. About five minutes later he came back with the right main and I could finally stop feeling guilty that I was eating first.
The house-made spaghetti was perfectly cooked, and the serving of crab meat was generous. The chef was clearly very experienced – each ingredient in the dish had its own part to play and came together to form a pasta dish that was light but flavoursome, and even the chilli was cut to perfection in fine strips.
As always I couldn’t finish my main, but had saved some room for dessert.
I ordered the fried Venetian custard with blood orange ice cream and pistachios, and although it wasn’t something I usually order, it was an excellent decision.

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The custard was velvety yet crispy on the outside and the blood orange ice cream was subtle, while blood orange sauce brought out the flavours of the ice cream and cut through the rich custard.
In the end it was a night that could have been much better, right down to the smaller details of decent seating to the more important details of service and knowledge of the menu.
Maybe wait a few months until it finds its feet – it’s still got a way to go.

Circa
676 Beaufort Street
Monday to Thursday open for lunch and dinner
Friday open til late
Saturday open from breakfast til late, and Sunday from breakfast til dinner

Circa on Urbanspoon

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