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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bites: Greek Meze @ Brika, Northbridge.

Over the weekends,  my friends and I decided to meet up over dinner with Brika capturing our mind instantly.  Set in the fringes of Northbridge, Brika has a lovely eating space that can get quite cozy for two if quiet.  But considering the intent of festivity most people have in mind with alcohol, it is almost never.  The eating style is communal and for our chirpy group of 7 this was a perfect spot.  Fans might even liken it to Duende, Cantina 663, and Old Crow.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe way we started was very typical of the cuisine in the region.  We skipped the cured meats and olives but feasted on dips like the Tatziki, $7 (cucumber, garlic & yoghurt) and the Taramasalata, $8 (mullet roe dip).  Both of which were rather good with the warmed Pita slices, $4 for a serve of 6.  The way the dips were prepared were rather unconventional with the dips having more bulk than having a runny consistency.  This almost made the Pita and dips a meal of its own.  If only the Taramasalata was not so salty.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Next up was the Spanakopita ($14).  Prepared in an unconventional way, this felt like the Greek’s rendition of the Asian Spring Rolls except for its filling which consisted of spinach, leek and a variety of cheeses.  Each bite into these little pastries were greeted with a crunch followed by layers of flavors derived from the mixture of spinach and cheese.  The leak though, was less obvious and almost felt non-existent at time.  This was pretty yums but everyone one found this a little salty. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The next deep one were the Kolokithakia or Zucchini Fritters ($8), another house favourite according to the waitress.  Comparing this to the Spanakopita, I preferred this one more.  Who knew that Zucchini could ever taste so good!?  Flavors were well balanced, and felt fresh despite being deep fried.  After having this, I would rather put a Zucchini in the hands of a  Brika chef rather than any other chef.  These were just yummy! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Next up was the Saganaki ($12) which was a serve of pan fried cheese.  Perceived as a Haloumi on first sight, it turned out to be another type of cheese called the Kefalograviera.  It had a beautiful crust but a much saltier consistency.  The many serves of Pita which I ordered definitely played a crucial role in us finishing the two serves of cheese which I mistook to be something else.  To be honest, my vocabulary was ridiculed as I scanned the small plate dishes on the menu that I simply ordered two serves of almost everything haha.  Slightly chewy with a hit of saltiness in each bite followed by a mild acidity from the lemon.  A man once said that if you prepare something simple, it had to be spot on.  I am not sure how spot on pan-fried cheese can be.  Perhaps this is too simple?  Maybe a herb spice blend to top it all?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Whilst the shared plates were a mixed bag ranging from yummy to OK, I was really chuffed with my choice of meat for the night. I chose the lamb which was absolutely moorish.  The seasoning used kept the dish very basic. Salt, pepper and to finish, a sprinkling of herbs. Essentially, it was all about celebrating the piece of quality  meat on the plate.  Slow cooked to perfection, it fell off the bone effortlessly.  Every tiny scrape with the fork is guaranteed to tear the tender flesh apart.  Such joy!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was the other dish of octopus we ordered.  At first sight, it felt like the perfect way to celebrate the protein.  Sitting on the plate, it looked plump and well-charred on its edges.  To put it simply, it looked sensational all around.  However, it was only halfway there for me.  Yes the octopus was very tender and juicy, but there beautiful smoky flavors to complement the charred edges was missing.  I expected a stronger hint of smokiness and a mild crunch, the same one I get from Kanta every time I go there.  I do not know is whether a modern grill or a charcoal grill was used to prepare this dish but one thing I know for sure is that a conventional charcoal grill is hard to beat when it comes to flavors.   To sum it all, it was rather pedestrian.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhilst we had many others that night, I was lazy to snap a photo of everything.  The fish was pretty decent and so were the sausages.  As for the prawn dish, it came in a rich tomato braise that was moreish with the Pita!  The quantity of the prawns though, were rather questionable. All in all, the meal at Brika was satisfying although it does not quite reach my Nirvana just yet.  I see great potential in Brika and with its already large fan base, I have no doubt that the quality Brika brings will be more than enough for most. 

As for the price, it cost us just $250 for a group of 7 without drinks.  This includes 3 pitas, 3 dips, 6 shared plate and 7 serves of meat.  Bloody hell this was by all means great value for Perth.  Very very good in fact!  One more thing to love is the ease of parking.  Unlike the stupid central Northbridge/Perth, the parking at Brika is easy and boy that is a massive plus point.  Ask yourself this question, how many times have you been 20 minutes early to a dinner only to be 10 minutes late thanks to the horrendous parking? 

To end, I want to say that creativity like happiness can be something viral. The rise of food entrepreneurs in Perth is in full force over the last two years.  This has paved the way for many food vans, festivals and eateries. Such is the story of Brika, the result of people who dare bring paper concepts to reality.  And boy I am thankful.



Brika on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bites: An Organic Brunch @ Perth City Farm Café, Perth City.

Perth City Farm has long been an iconic example of inner-city biodiversity with its other half, the City Farm Café fronting their organic produce using a farm-to-table approach.  Its sitting is a mix of covered and open air dining, both equally enticing on a cool morning’s day.  But when it comes to eating, it is all about the food.  So lets get eating!

Some of the stuff we ordered that day includes XL’s Pain Perdu or French Toast with maple syrup, crème fraiche, and caramelized bananas ($16.50).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat is a good French Toast? For me, its all about a well-dipped soaked toast that has beautiful charred edges.  The end product should be moist and fluffy with a golden brown color.  City Farm delivers exactly that.  Cutting through the bread you could still see a very eggy inside that looks a little runny.  Soak up all that syrup sauce and its so good by itself.  My biggest critique about this dish were the caramelized banana.  It was a rather typical accompaniment but unfortunately it was not typical good.  The banana lacked the ripeness I desired and the caramelization fell short of spectacular.  I was looking for a caramelized banana that was mushy on the inside but could still hold its shape while carrying a whiff of buttery scent.  All the joys of a perfectly caramelized banana but there was none.


Fishman had not fish today and ended up with the Brekkie Burger which was a toasted bun with runny egg, cheddar and bacon ($12.50)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe said it was OK but lacked quantity on a place. Perhaps a serve of chips on the side for a couple of dollars more would make this a pretty good meal.  As is, it would not keep anyone filled past lunch.


For myself, I decided to keep it simple and ordered one of their most popular dishes there.  The Aged Cheddar and Chive Eggs with Bread ($16).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt had layers of good silky texture and it was creamy through each bite.  However. I did not quite get the excitement of the bitey cheddar as I savored the egg.  I was expecting more to go with my buttered toast but there was hardly enough Cheddar to complement the dish as a “Aged Cheddar and Chive Egg”. As for the addition of the chives, the flavors were quite subtle and compliment the dish well.  Yay or Nay?  Well, to be honest it was OK, but definitely not the explosion of “WOW” I was expecting.  Above average at best.


The drinks at City Farm Café are very well priced.  I do not drink coffee but I think the espresso starts at $2.50 or so.  Others would have cost no more than $4.  As for the food, it was a mixed bag.  Most were good while the rest were OK.  The food was safe and rather traditional.  It was a breakfast that is not here to complicate things.  There was no foam, no pork belly, no dehydrated anything but it was quite pleasant.   But considering the birth of so many new eateries around, this level of skill is hardly commendable.  Nonetheless, when you put your fingers together to count all the good things this place brings to an urban jungle like Perth, its value grow by folds.  A lovely sitting area, recyclable cutleries, and organic goodies planted by our very own Perth-ians  puts City Farm Café in a league of its own.



City Farm Cafe on Urbanspoon