Monday, May 25, 2015

Stimulatte & Tommy Sugo, Hay Street (corner Axon Street), Subiaco

Despite the proliferation of chic and high quality small eateries popping up around Perth (and some would say some of the best baristas in the world), I have long lamented the lack of truly great breakfast places which are located near the places I frequent, and which don’t cut off their breakfast menu at an ungodly hour.

Enter Stimulatte, an unassuming little joint on Hay Street in Subiaco (near the corner of Axon Street).  Not only do they serve breakfast until 11.30am, they offer excellent barista coffee all day, courtesy of the Stimulatte barista crew.

Why am I raving about this place?  Apart from the fact that you can enjoy a hot breakfast without being a morning person, the quality of the fare is really good.  By that, I mean not just the standard offering of bacon and eggs or eggs benedict (not that there’s anything wrong with either of those).

From the innovative The Italian featuring pesto-smeared slices of thick bread, slices of prosciutto and perfectly poached eggs to the Green Eggs and Salmon with pesto-scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, you can now enjoy a hearty and fancy breakfast fix without the indignity of waking up too early!
In fact, the coffee and food are so good you won't even realise that there's a funeral parlour next door ...

While all this is in itself makes for a great little establishment, there is a bonus!

At 5pm, the place transforms into Tommy Sugo as a “pop-up” operation. If you’re looking for something quick and simple for dinner (or indeed something to takeaway) but don’t feel like the traditional takeaway fare of pizza or fish and chips, Tommy Sugo offers an alternative.  The menu appears simple but there are a myriad combinations to be had:
  • first, you choose the pasta out of a list of 13, including the usual suspects like linguine, penne and spaghetti, to the more elaborate chicken or beef tortellini and even an exotic biodynamic lamb spelt ravioli;
  • then you choose a sauce with clever names, from the eponymous (and delicious and surprisingly meaty) Tommy’s Sugo, to Miss Piggy’s Carbonara, the Hulk Pesto and even the Italian Stallion featuring Italian sausage (go figure).

 Each dish comes in regular and large sizes, but I’ve found that the regular size is more than enough to leave you with a full belly, especially if you also scoff a few of their delicately delicious arancini balls.

The chilli that they provide in a little plastic cup for an extra 50 cents has a lovely fiery burn and adds an extra dimension of flavour to your pasta.

You can either dine in, in which case your food is served in rustic tin plates and it's nice to sit at the rustic wooden tables on the sidewalk outside and enjoy the quiet Subiaco evening, or order takeaway, in which case you only need to wait a few minutes before your food is ready to go!

The pasta is nicely cooked and the sauces are delicious.  I’ll certainly be heading down there again when I’m next in Subiaco and feel like a quick and tasty dinner which costs less than $15 (although some of the more exotic or elaborate pasta and sauce combinations will take you above $15).

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Standard, Northbridge, Western Australia

The dining and small bar scene in Perth, Western Australia has been leaping forwards in variety and quality over the last few years, and one of the latest additions to this scene is The Standard, located on Roe Street in Northbridge.

Occupying what used to be an old school “underground” gambling house (so I’m told), The Standard boasts a large outdoor courtyard area as well as a modern-looking indoor area with a long bar complete with mixologists standing behind it furiously shaking cocktail mixers.

I joined some friends there for lunch one lazy Saturday afternoon and we were not disappointed.  The drinks menu offered wallet-friendly yet delicious wines from Australia and all around the world and a selection of local and international beers, and the food menu offered many sharing-style dishes.

I couldn’t decide on what to drink, so I had something of everything; and my favourite dish was the garlic clams in a creamy cider sauce, although the house made potato and sweet potato crisps, as well as the crispy chunky fava chips were also superb.

As you can see from the photos, the food was so good that my fellow diners didn't care to wait while I took some photos; and who can blame them?

Needless to say, lunch turned into a messy but fun affair that went on for many hours ...


Friday, May 1, 2015

Milk the Cow licensed fromagerie, St Kilda & Carlton, Victoria

I heard about this amazing place from my mate Kev who travels to Melbourne a lot on business, and when I was last in Melbourne, I just had to spend some time there.  I was not disappointed.

Milk the Cow is a unique proposition in the Melbourne hospitality scene – a licensed fromagerie with two locations: on Fitzroy Street in St Kilda (kinda across the road from the St Kilda Sports Club) and Lygon Street in Carlton (across the road from the iconic Nova Cinema).

Yes, you can buy cheese to take away from a mind-boggling array of Australian and international delights (anything from an entire wheel to a small slice of heaven), but because it is a licensed venue, you can also sit there and order a bottle of wine from their extensive wine list, or beer or spirits if you’re that way inclined.

But the most compelling offering by far is their selection of tasting flights: 4 varieties of cheese paired with 4 varities of liquor.  You can choose from a red wine flight, a white wine flight, a sparking wine flight, a whisky flight, a beer flight, and even a sake flight!  Each with a different selection of cheeses that complements the particular beverages selected.

Needless to say, I chose the whisky flight for a quick lunch ...

Both venues also boast alfresco seating on the sidewalk, which is cigar-friendly.  In fact, they have a small selection of cigars available on their menu although your own cigars are welcome.  In my case, I enjoyed a beautifully aged 1998 Le Hoyo du Roi from Wal Baranow's private collection (from iconic Melbourne cigar lounge Baranows, which has sadly closed because Wal has decided to move to Cuba - tough life indeed!).  If you happen to be squeamish about smoking, that is also fine: both venues have plenty of comfortable indoor seating as well.
While I was sitting on the sidewalk enjoying the various delights on my table, a couple of people walked past and started chatting to me - they too had come in search of this wonderful place!
If you like cheese, make sure you set aside an hour or two to savour the delights of Milk the Cow next time you have a chance to visit St Kilda or Carlton!