Saturday, 23 November 2013

EDB13 - Solo Dining in Perth (Guest Post)

With EDB13 being held in Perth, I decided to tag along for the ride and have a long weekend away.  I knew that Saturday I would be on my own, with FoodMeUpScotty indulging in all things eating, drinking and blogging, so I decided to explore a little of the nation's western capital.

I'd hired a car for the weekend, and after dropping off FoodMeUpScotty at the Perth City Farm for his day of bloggy fun, took the trip back to Beaufort Street way for breakfast.  At dinner last night (see post here), I had been recommended the Tuck Shop Cafe as a great suburban breakfast spot, although was warned there may be a queue.  After driving around the block a couple of times (thanks GoogleMaps for the bum steer on a little alleyway), I was able to get a park only a little way down Newcastle Street and was early enough at this Northbridge favourite to score a table without having to wait (dining solo also helps!).  Not long after being seated I was provided with a big jug of water and a menu, and was able to order the usual half strength latte.

There is one thing I can say about Perth - they know how to do a good coffee over there!  Which was a relief, as while its only 2 hours behind Brisbane, my body clock was all out of whack. While I waited for my order I watched the crowds come and go, lots of locals getting takeaway coffees and the tables turned over pretty quickly.  I must admit it seemed to take a little while for my order to arrive, although I didn't really mind, as I had nothing else to do for a few hours and was enjoying reading my book.  Finally I was presented with my breakfast, a big bowl of poached eggs, tomato, bacon and sour dough.  As FoodMeUpScotty was not with me, I could indulge in a simple breakfast, and it was a good simple breakfast.  The eggs were poached well, the tomatoes really tasty and there were heaps of bacon rashers.  Unfortunately I felt I had barely scratched the surface when my stomach told me "enough is enough" and I had to admit defeat. 

I enjoyed Tuck Shop Cafe, the staff were friendly and the coffee and food were good.  I'm glad I had been given this recommendation, I don't think the hotel buffet would have been anywhere near as tasty. Tuck Shop Cafe is tagged as a pie shop as well, but as I had plans to head to Kings Park I had to pass up the tasty looking pastries.   By the time I was leaving the queue was starting to form, once again managed to time it well.

After wandering around Kings Park for a while, it was time to head to Fremantle.  I had arranged with Melissa Loh's SO to have lunch with him at the Little Creatures Brewery, something I had been looking forward to for some time.  My only concern was the fact that, as I was driving, I could only have one beer...So I plugged "Fremantle" into Google Maps and before long I was tooling along the Canning Vale Highway in the little A3 out to Freo. 

It was an absolutely amazing day for getting out of the city.  The Swan River was beautiful, the sun was shining and the brewery was calling.  Before meeting up with the SO I walked around Freo, firstly stumbling across the Beer Fest in the park across from the Little Creatures Brewery.  I figured there were going to be some sore heads around here tomorrow.....

The SO and I met up at Monk, a bar along South Terrace, where he was working his way through a beer sampler.  Great idea for such a stinker of a hot day as today.  Monk was a good spot for people watching, sitting out on the front deck as tourists and locals meandered past, no one really looking like they were in a hurry.  And neither were we, but there came a time when we decided we had better hit the brewery before it got too late.

Little Creatures Brewery is a bit of a tourist magnet in Fremantle, the place was absolutely packed when we got there, full of all types of beer fiends. Fortunately for us the bouncers must have thought we posed no threat, as we were able to slip in without having to worry about being carded or having to show them our eyes.  Once inside we managed to grab a table by the door that was free, I think we were lucky.  The tables out the front were packed, and when I went through the huge venue to the toilets I could see most of the large bench tables were full, as were the tables on the back deck.  Despite the Beer Fest that was kicking off across the street it was clear everyone still wanted to visit the Brewery.  

For me there was only really one thing I wanted to try - the pizzas.  Beer and pizza - a pairing that can't be beat on such a hot day as today.  The SO agreed, and we both ordered the wood fired pizza - I had the italian pork and fennel sausage pizza and the SO had to grab the chorizo and corn pizza.  As there were no actual food bloggers present we were able to tuck into the pizzas pretty quickly - all it took was one quick iPhone shot and we were ready to go.  The pizzas were tasty, the beer was cold, all was right in the world.

The only negative thing I would say about the brewery is that the music was really really loud.  Yes I admit I'm no spring chicken, and actually want to have a conversation with someone when I'm with them, and we found that this was a little hard with the speaker just above us.  It may have been easier to hold a conversation without shouting further down the back of the brewery, but I think it was generally noisy everywhere.  I think the tip would be to try and nab a table outside, but we were grateful just to get a seat.

After the pizza we decided to walk around Freo a little longer.  I had heard about the Fremantle markets but hadn't stopped in before lunch, so the SO and I headed in that direction.  The markets themselves were a little disappointing, they were certainly no Adelaide Central Market or Victoria Market in Melbourne, but at least they were better than the E Markets at the other side of the Fremantle CBD.  There was a pub across from the markets, and the SO was feeling a little parched so we headed in to see what was available, however we didn't stay long as there was a pretty foul smell emanating from the bar area - too many spilt beers perhaps? Anyway, we ended up stumbling across a great little bakery/bar down a side street, bread in common, and we popped inside. 

This was something completely unexpected - a very Melbourne-esque bistro/bar in the heart of Fremantle. Dark walls, interesting lighting, and a bakery combined to offer something very different to the other places we walked past.  There was even an herb garden on the footpath! I was able to have a smoothie in a cup/jar, and the SO decided to try a cider.  My smoothie was tasty, and a good way to wash out the beer and pizza from lunch. Definitely a place you could spend a little time in, although I would recommend when you go to the toilet, remember the lighting is deliberately low - I was looking for the light switch for a while before I realised the lights were already on!! Muted strip lights in the wall are certainly flattering but not very practical.

Finally we decided it was about time to head back to Perth and prepare for our separate nights.  The SO had an engagement party to attend, and I had dinner reservations at Must Wine Bar on Beaufort Street.  I had again chosen my dinner location based on a referral from a friend, but this time I had to ensure I had booked in advance.  One thing I was surprised about was just how difficult it is to get into a decent restaurant on a Saturday night in Perth, even for just a solo diner like myself.  

Must is located along the Beaufort Street dining precinct, and by the time I got there for my 7pm reservation the place was pumping.  This little patch of Perth is certainly a place to engage in some people watching, I'm sure a lot of people there were out and about to "see and be seen"!  I was greeted at the door by a friendly waiter, and after politely declining a drink at the bar (still not sure why people make a reservation for a certain time, turn up at that time then want to go to the bar, but that's just me....), was taken past the bar and into the upstairs dining room.  From here there is a good view over the bar area and downstairs dining room, again a good spot for people watching.  This is also certainly a date place - apart from myself and a threesome by the wall, the rest of the patrons appeared to be on dates.  The couple a few tables aware were clearly on a first date - not a bad place to go for a first date I might add.

Given again I was going to have to drive home, I decided to just have one glass of wine early in the piece.  The waiter was very helpful with my selection, I had indicated I was looking the oysters and angel hair pasta, and had ordered a champagne, but he suggested that, given the seafood I was going to be ordering, a nice chablis would be better suited.  So I took his suggestion and was very happy to see he didn't lead me astray!

I was given some complimentary bread while I waited for my order, and it was fresh and crunchy.  But I had to make sure I left plenty of room, my poor stomach was thinking it was closer to 9:30 and well past dinner time!  

Entree was rockefeller oysters, this time they were cooked with a bread crumb covering.  Tasty, but perhaps not the best rockefeller oysters I have ever had (that honour probably belongs to Lure in Brisbane).  At least they were well cooked, no shell or sand left in these babies.

Not long after they had been cleared away I was presented with my main course of angel hair pasta with blue swimmer crab.  I had discussed the serving size with my very friendly waiter, and he had suggested the entree size, and I'm once again glad I listened to him.  While it was not large, it was enough for me.  The pasta was cooked well, the crab plentiful, and there was a little heat with some chilli through the dish.  I wasn't actually able to finish it, and had to also forego dessert - despite normally having a second stomach for desserts, I think that second stomach had been taken up by other food!  

I did get some looks at Must as a solo diner, I think people were wondering why was this lone woman coming out to a wine bar with an only e-reader for company?  I didn't mind the solo dining experience, except for the fact I think I should have caught a cab out to Beaufort Street - Must was a wine bar after all and the chablis was so good I really wanted another!

While it was fun catching up for lunch with another blogger spouse, I found that Perth was the type of place where you could just wander around by yourself and still find plenty of things to see and do.  The staff at the Tuck Shop Cafe and Must were friendly but not overbearing, which made the solo dining experiences that much more enjoyable.  Sunshine, beer, food and wine - great weekend!


Cool street art around the corner from Must
The view from Kings Park - beautiful river views
The city from Kings Park
The old Swan brewery
Monument to the centenary of women's suffrage 
Fremantle, quiet end of town near the uni
This cannon stops the Pirates - its actually a time gun, but not as much fun :)
Bathers bay at Freo
Kitchen at Bread in Common
Brewery and Bar at Little Creatures
more cool street art in Freo

Tuck Shop Cafe on UrbanspoonLittle Creatures Brewery on UrbanspoonBread In Common on UrbanspoonMust Winebar on Urbanspoon

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