Venue: The Beaufort Street Merchant
Date: 30 December 2013
Location: Beaufort St, Mt Lawley, Perth
Price: Is that a hole in my (girlfriend’s) wallet…?
My would-be mother-in-law (my girlfriend loves it when I say that) Mary was scheduled to fly east tomorrow to commence a six-week journey retracing the steps of those great bankrupt explorers, the Leyland Brothers, around Victoria. To bid bon voyage we settled after some consternation on one of Mt Lawley’s trés cher fixtures:The Beaufort Street Merchant.
Mt Lawley is situated middle-management distance from Perth’s business caldera and close to a number of conveniently located injecting rooms. The area hugs Perth’s urban periphery and is perfectly suited to the ageing hipster: a smorgasbord of cafés & eateries line the main strip, Beaufort Street, while verdant character houses jostle for space among mildly elevated surrounds. You can live and breed here.
The area around Beaufort Street has recently undergone some cosmetic surgery: staples such as the fast and loose “Cafe Martino’s”, known for its cheapskate $10 Tuesday pizzas (helping students to get laid for generations) was closed-down by health inspectors, replaced by a pocket of blandness; the former posh laundering service no longer removes those bunga bunga stains faster than you can say ‘my wife’s calling’, instead it has morphed into a repository of Indonesian rainforest, Empire furniture. The Flying Scotsman has even had a shower and looks hygienic.
It seems that illegal immigration may be a problem still with a number of (delicious) mexican restaurants occupying abandoned shops. Even the kebab store where the owner murdered his wife in a fit of (2000 BC) tribal horror now does a mean burger…but the Queens Hotel remains stubbornly
boganic Perthist, a little outpost of Scarborough (Howard) battling on.
We were obviously spoilt for choice, but Paige, having perused The Merchant’s menu, was sold.
The Merchant is located towards the bowel-clenching Luxxe Bar end of Beaufort St, just near Sienna’s (a favourite fattening hub) and now-gone Café Soto (long live its limp-wristed coffees). Upon entering it exudes a colonial-bazaar feel: the busy mis-en-scene eatery spills towards the front, while a gourmet food & drink area loiters behind.
A waiter(ess) led us to the table in the front-section. I got prime position, my view populated by a pink giraffe (see picture – I’m informed it’s actually a reindeer) and cackling table of flesh-eating MILFs who excelled at making the fresh-faced garçon serving them seem slightly nervous. Politeness best sums up the early-evening service (it was just on 6pm), though I had a suspicion that the service would deteriorate as it became busier.
The Merchant’s menu mimics the bricolage of its interior, what I would call an old-Singapore style: not due to south-east Asian cuisine, but owing to, as the name suggests, a mercantile approach to cuisine construction. Each meal (in its telling) resembled a cross-road of trade routes: the Saffron & Leek Braised Mussels (steroid free!), Peppered Organic Keen-Whoreah Salad, Duck Confit w poached pear..the list goes on.
A specialty of The Merchant are “Arkady Lamb” dishes. I thought I’d heard this name before in a video (arcade-y) game (a quick google search only listed Russian political prisoners). According to the menu: “Arkady lamb is unique in WA, home-grown on pastures replicating those of their [the lambs'] ancestral homeland.” Cue the Lion King music.
Clearly we were dealing with a cult. I feared consuming these dishes would amount to a personality test. Nevertheless Mary and I took a stab at the lamb salad; Paige was feeling earthy and ordered the mushroom gnocchi.
Arkady Lamb Fillet Salad
Lamb, as they say, is the fruit of the gods. This dish composed with Freekah Tabbouleh (no, not the Lebanese hip hop artist you water-cooler racists), pistachio, feta and picked onion was divine. Arranged in some sort of readiness for ascent to said gods, the still-bleating rarity of the meat waltzed into the pistachio mush beautifully. There was even something that looked salad-like to placate the nomenclature. At $28 and quite large, it’s pricey but nicey.
Paige’s choice would bring out the wild boar in all of us: gnocchi garnished with truffled Swiss mushrooms, toasted hazelnuts and comte. It tasted amazing: like a bank vault of nazi gold in my mouth. Small portions (at $29, each gnocchi is around $4) keep you thin for later but a supplementary side order may be advisable.
In keeping with the Teutonic theme of the gnocchi we drank sparkling water and, given the trash baggery tomorrow on NYE, no alcohol was had.
Rating: QUITE GOOD
Quote: “I can’t believe it tastes this good so close to that adult photography store”
Other reviews pan this place but we had a good time. Just confirms the need for aggregation. If you don’t mind parting with some cash (i.e. have a job), then this place is go for casual sumptuousness. Merchanting…just ignore the cultish overtones.