As I've mentioned in previous Northbridge praising posts, I'm utterly elated with how the street that features in many of my childhood memories has grown so much too! More recently, I happen to walk past a particular patch along William Street and notice that a neat little restaurant had opened up near the Newcastle Street intersection. My partner M and I perused the menu that they had tacked up on the window and I was especially intrigued. Upon doing a little reading up, Baby Mammoth seemed to offer a classy Americana like gastro pub flare, served in what appeared to be a cosy and intimate space. One of my housemates had just finished work and suggested that we have dinner in the city to farewell a friend. After giving up on the potential 2 hour wait at Palsaik Namoo in the CBD, I remembered Baby Mammoth and hastily called to make a reservation for 4 in 15 minutes time. I was dealing with a hungry, grumpy and slightly lost group of people and I was relieved that there would have a table for us!
Baby Mammoth currently welcomes BYO - which we didn't know beforehand. The choice was ours; pop down to the Bottle Shop or settle for something from their non-alcoholic beverage list. It was a pretty chilly night, which we were all quite unprepared for considering the fact that we're certain Spring began a month ago! We happily settled for a few bottled sodas - I went for their Iced Tea, which came in a very handsome coffee plunger. Within the next few months, they hope to have some craft beers on tap as well as expand on their other offerings.
We settled into one the comfy booths on the left side of the restaurant that were lit by a few tea candles on the table. The very same sinking feeling from my time at Ace Pizza washed over me - no matter how much iSO and aperture I jigged, the surrounding lighting just wasn't doing me any favours! In short - Baby Mammoth is perfect for romantic dates but in and amongst the intimate lighting, my food blogging colleagues and other before meal photo takers may struggle! As we were getting settled, the complementary bread basket arrived at our table. The red olive spread was sharp and tangy, which I wasn't so fond of - but it'd be perfect for those who enjoy olives and capers! I understand that it's hard to whip something together in the middle of service, but the staff were quick on their feet and happily provided us some garlic aioli to go with our next round of bread, which was definitely more to everybody's preference.
I really liked the sound of the entrees - on paper, they were comprised of great ingredients for what we expected to be a flavourful, filling salad to share between four. When two small oblong plates appeared on the table, we were slightly taken aback - these were what I would consider to be tapas sized servings instead of an entree. What these dishes lacked in generosity, they both did make up for in flavour. The cured wagyu was beautiful - full flavoured, smokey and sweet. Similarly, the Duroc Ham and grilled peaches, which made for a creamy, sweet and salty flavour combination that would win the hearts of many salted caramel fans. For $22 and $25 respectively, I did think that these portions would disappoint a majority of Perth diners. Even if we weren't sharing amongst the four of us, four shreds of Wagyu or Duroc Ham all priced above $20 isn't the most generous entree.
Fish has unknowingly started to sneak up on me lately - like Chicken, it's one of those "death dishes" that I will generally steer away from during the main course because of how easily over coked and crucified they are. It was a different story tonight at Baby Mammoth - the fillet was was well seared and smothered in the creamy, well seasoned buerre-blanc. Interestingly enough, they use fish caught on lines instead of nets! Each bite was a tender and flavoursome mouthful - every component, including the classic vegetable accompaniments sang. Again, steep at $36 but it was a very well cooked piece of fish that may just entice me to reconsider my next restaurant main meal choice!
Whilst we were deliberating over the menu, I did notice that even the vegetarian option was priced over $25. Considering the portions that we had received so far, unfortunately I would say that the offerings are in the high end category that again, some diners may not be comfortable with. The Jerk Pork was crispy and incredibly spicy - this is one those dishes that I recommend to eat with all components onto the one forkful. The mango and banana salsa was a standout condiment, however I couldn't help but note that I could get a lot more Pork Belly for a lot less elsewhere.
As our mains hit the table, we did wonder when our side of chips would be served. Unfortunately, even after we were done with the fish and the pork, the chips still hadn't arrived yet. After a quick reminder to the waitstaff that we were waiting for a final side, they arrived at the table within the next 10 minutes. Unlike what we had experienced with the rest of the menu, these chips were generously stacked up high in a large bowl with a side of aioli, balanced on the rim. As far as Baby Mammoth goes, it's the most filling and affordable thing on the menu. As far as good chips go, they're commercial and despite how the price reflects this, the fact that they're not made in house is disappointing.
Sometimes I like to let new restaurants "settle in" before visiting, but with Baby Mammoth's intriguing menu, inviting ambiance and convenient location...I just couldn't resist. On the food side of things - flavours wise, I was impressed. Portions and generosity wise, I think that something's got to give; the local dining scene is competitive and good food, in small portions for a cut above your competitors may deter diners in the long run. Personally, I know that Baby Mammoth have a lot of options to offer such as their Brunch Degustations and their Sunday Roasts - these are different experiences at different price ranges, which do beckon at me to return. The service is top notch and was extremely pleasant throughout the night - the staff were neither artificial nor ignorant, which made our experience a whole lot more enjoyable. They handled the slip up with our order well and as the restaurant develops in the next 6 months, I'm sure that things could only get better! It's nice to see a place practise what they preach - they quoted Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin when describing their hospitality, "to receive guests is to take charge of their happiness during the entire time they are under your roof." I certainly felt that way at Baby Mammoth and here's hoping that they settle well into the delicious ranks of their new William Street address!