February 24, 2012

Pony Express O

I've been exploring the local cafes here in Perth, and I've been quite pleased at how many truly excellent coffee places there are. We're very lucky to be staying directly across the street from Zekka, and it's my favorite, but I've been working in West Perth for the last week or so and have been visiting "Pony Express O" out there. It's tucked away in an old stable off a tiny laneway, not easy to find, but it rewards the effort.

I'd already tried and liked Epic in West Perth, but some of my co-workers recommended "Pony" so I checked it out. One of the features of this place is their "Slayer" machine, the smallest of the "Big 3" espresso machine manufacturers (La Marzocco, Synesso, and Slayer). I'm not usually impressed by cafe equipment, but it was fun checking out the hardware.

Pressure gauge and mirror
One of the fun features of the Slayer is that there's a mirror strip under the group heads that lets you see the bottom of the group head (and portafilter) without having to bend over. If you're using a bottomless portafilter, this lets you easily see the shot being pulled. An obvious innovation once you think of it, and really nice. The shots pulled here were even without blonding or streaking.
Nice Shot
The Cafe itself is well lit with lots of brick and wood inside, and a nice seating area outside decorated with coffee sacks. The beans are from Crema. I've had double espresso and long black here and heartily recommend both. The baristas are friendly and happy to chat, and the place has a minimum of bored hipsters.

(My friend Ash simulating a bored hipster)

February 09, 2012

Harvest Restaurant

We visited Harvest Restaurant in North Freemantle this evening. It's a small place with an innovative french-influenced menu. They offer a six course degustation, but Debbie and I opted to order a la carte instead.

We started with Veal Crudo, basically a veal tartare, with various preparations of beetroot. There was lightly cooked young beetroot, slightly pickled baby beetroot, and a beetroot cake of some kind. The veal crudo was delicious, delicately spiced and cut coarsely enough to hold an interesting texture.

Our other starter was "lamb nuggets" which are their fanciful name for breaded and fried lamb brains. The breading had a complex spicing that nicely complimented the warm soft texture and mild flavor of the brains. Served on a bed of red cabbage braised with cumin, a sprinkling of dried grapes and a drizzle of muscadel. It was the best preparation of brains I've had in years.

My main was a continuation in the theme of lamb, a slow braised lamb neck served with lamb sweetbreads on a bed of pearl barley, radish, and a jerez sauce. A hearty winter dish, deliciously spiced with fresh thyme, but it seemed a little odd with the nighttime temperatures still around 27. The sweetbreads were well done, but perhaps too reminiscent of the brains. Next time I think I'll try something with a little more contrast to the earlier dishes.

Debbie had a red trumpeter with broad beans on a bed of riced cauliflower flavored with anchovies. The fish was excellent  - a nicely crisp top and salt and butter notes to round it out. The cauliflower was very tasty and a good foil for the fish.

We opted for a side of fennel confit with tomato and basil sauce. It was nice enough but nothing really special - as is appropriate for a side. The basil was fresh with great flavor, maybe from a local garden?

Total for two with a nice glass of spanish white - $150.

We'll definitely be back.