My lovely friends, Sarah and Matt put me up for a week in their beautiful home over-looking the Swan River in Perth, Australia. On the other side of the world and recently out of hospital, I wasn’t feeling my best, but I mustered up the energy for a hearty breakfast with them both. With so many eateries in the area, it was a tough decision on where to go, so I left it down to the locals who suggested Beaufort Street Merchant in Mount Lawley, which happened to be just down the road from their house.
As soon as I saw it I knew it was just my kind of place, very similar to one of my favourite brunch spots in London called Caravan, King Cross. Like Caravan, Beaufort Street Merchant was clearly a trendy place, but with many types of people inside, not just the young hipster kind you’d expect. In other words, my old folks wouldn’t feel out of place here that’s for sure, in fact they’d love to get lost in the wine cellar out back.
Luckily we arrived early enough on a Saturday that we didn’t have to wait for a table and were seated just in front of the huge array of cakes, giving me time to catch a glimpse of what I may have later. I knew exactly what I wanted to drink, my usual Aussie flat white which was fantastically creamy and true to the sign on the board advertising it’s buttery caramel tones. The menu was simple and included all your classic brunch dishes and a few specialities thrown in too. As usual I wanted to try something different, with the truffled mushrooms on a bed of polenta, rocket and parmesan catching my eye, but equally I hadn’t had a proper full English breakfast for donkey’s, since travelling around Asia in fact.
Luckily I choose my friends wisely 😉 and Sarah was also torn between these two options, so we decided to share them both. I loved the polenta with the truffled mushrooms which went exceptionally well together and was a lot lighter than having toast. I rarely have polenta as it’s not that popular back home, but I’ve noticed it on many breakfast menus in Perth. There was a good amount of parmesan in the rocket salad which gave the dish a strong but not overpowering flavour. The only thing I would say is that I noticed little difference in taste between the truffled mushrooms in this dish and the regular mushrooms on the big belly breakfast, there wasn’t much of a truffle taste that’s for sure.
The big belly breakfast was of good size and had all the usual components found in a “proper breakfast“, with some items being a little different to the norm. For example, the beans were large butter beans mixed with fresh tomatoes with a slight chilli-like kick. I like it when places have their own take on breakfast favourites, as anyone can grab a fry up at the local cafe, but it’s the little things like swapping white bread for toasted sourdough which makes brunch at Beaufort Street Merchant special. My only complaint with the full breakfast was the chipolata which was so over-cooked it was dry. After seven sausage-free months (no innuendo intended!) I left all but a bite of mine, it was that bad!
In my eyes a little something sweet should be served after every meal. Even breakfast. So I headed straight to the cake counter to choose which sweet treat would be coming home with me. Much to Sarah and Matt’s dismay, I must have spent nearly 20 minutes deciding what to have. I tried to explain that I had been without my favourite thing (decent western cake!) for seven months and the selection at Beaufort Street Merchant is so overwhelming it was impossible to make a decision.
In the end I went for a salted caramel slice which was nice, but sadly a little disappointing (see, this is why it’s important to take time when deciding what cake to have!). The slice was so oily it not only leaked through the bag but stained every page of my note book (ok, what kind of idiot places a cake on a note book?). The salted caramel lacked flavour and the chocolate tasted a bit like cooking chocolate. Maybe I’ve become over critical since I failed to find a cake in Asia as good as that found in my local tea room Manna back in Portsmouth or maybe I simply made the wrong decision – Sarah and Matt said their salted caramel tart was “very flavoursome”.
Even though I didn’t try it, I must mention Sarah’s hot chocolate which was served as a glass of hot milk accompanied by chocolate drops and marshmallows to stir in, allowing you to make it just how you like it. It’s these unique touches that make places like Beaufort Street Merchant a cut above the rest.
Beaufort Street Merchant is a great spot for brunch, lunch or even dinner with good quality, well presented food. It has a nice vibe about it and although busy, it doesn’t feel overcrowded. I like the fact the cooking and washing up are done in the restaurant close to where people sit. This may be hard to imagine looking good but it works and helps sustain the sociable hustle and bustle. I would certainly return to Beaufort Street Merchant, maybe for an evening meal, but next time weekend brunch comes around I’d like to try somewhere new.
Living life, loving travel,