One of my favourite restaurants in Mt Lawley; Perth's centralised food haven, is definitely the Beaufort Street Merchant. It's my go-to dinner spot for bringing friends who are visiting Perth, or just an all round general great place to introduce to fellow lovers of consistently good food. The Merchant's menu changes a lot - so much so that with every visit, there is always something new to try. Although their menu rotates around some general food themes, what they manage to produce each time is far from boring. There's a lot of comfort food, which features upscale and sometimes exotic ingredients; the Beaufort Street Merchant have managed to create a perfect balance between fancy food, that happens to be approachable for everybody.
1. POSSIBLY THE BEST HAND CUT CHIPS IN PERTH
In the grand scheme of things, good hand cut chips are next to nothing, without a solid serving of aioli on the side. I would definitely say that as well as having the most delicious, perfectly thick cut, fluffy and salty chips, the Beaufort Street Merchant also have a killer aioli. It's probably one of the best chip and aioli combinations I've had in Perth and these are a must have every time I visit.
2. THE SALADS
One of the first dishes that I ever fell in love with was the Goat's Cheese Salad. The Goat's Cheese is beautifully soft and because it's been baked in honey, it creates an addictive sweet and salty taste. The Goat's Cheese is perfect for spreading on crispy toast or crumbled atop the walnut and frisée salad. This dish left such an impression on me that I returned twice for it, and both times I chose it as my main dish despite it being listed as an entree.
Their salads are far from boring and perfect as a main for one, or to share around the table. If I was to describe the Quinoa Salad, I would say "wet"; whilst it lacked an integral crunch factor, but definitely didn't lack in flavour. If you like creamy salads, this is definitely for you. Many of the salads incorporate vibrant flavours like duck, sour cherries, pickled onions, pistachios and farro. I wouldn't hesitate to try more salads on the menu, and neither should you!
3. THE PASTA
When people ask me where to get the best pasta in Perth, it surprises them that I recommend Beaufort Street Merchant over the typical Italian restaurant. The truth is, this is definitely one of the best pasta experiences I've had outside of Italy. I love the avant-garde flavour combinations and like the aforementioned salads, there is always a variety on offer. I've had it all at the Merchant; linguine, pappardelle, gnocchi and even the much rarer rotolo and have loved every single bite of it.
I'm a big fan of thicker cut pasta and more exotic gamey meat so the Vension Pappardelle has definitely been one of the most show stopping dishes I've had at the Merchant. The pop of the fresh peas and freshness of the herbs cut through the rich chunks of tender Venison and the al dente pasta that had soaked up all the meaty juices. It was just such a perfect dish and I wish that they'd keep it on the menu permanently!
Gnocchi has a bed reputation as the "death dish" of pasta; it's tough to find a good Gnocchi in Perth but as so, I believe I've found it here. My only problem with this dish is that there is just too little of it, especially since it's entree sized and priced at $29. I used every square inch of the soft, pillowy goodness to mop up the gorgeous gruyere infused mushroom juices and the slight crunch that came from the hazelnuts was just perfect. The entire dish had a great earthy flavour to it, which I loved and it had definitely earned it's "Dish of the Night" title!
The rotolo also left me in such a state of craving for a good week after I had it - you don't often see rotolo on menus, but essentially it's just a stuffed, rolled pasta. Pumpkin, Ricotta, Burnt Butter and Sage are such beautiful combinations that many diners would know and love. I can't help but call every pasta dish I've ever tried at the Merchant perfect because that is what they are. If you were to try nothing else on the menu, then at least let the pasta win your heart.
4. THE MEATS
I think Vegetarians are well taken care of in the Salads and Pasta arena, but the Merchant doesn't disappoint the carnivores either. They also win the gold medal for having the best Pork Chop I've had in Perth too. The juiciness of the meat and the crispiness of the crumb coating is unmatched by anything I've ever had before. It's a savoury diner's heaven from here on in!
I was thoroughly amused when a washing basket type deep dish came to the table and immediately proclaimed that I would be eating out of this for the rest of the night. The polenta had the luxurious earthiness that could only come from truffles, which was accentuated by the presence of the wild mushrooms. Whilst I wasn't fond of the lamb itself, it was due to it being braised rather than because of the flavours used. Previous readers will know that I'm not a fan of braises and I definitely would have preferred if the lamb was roasted.
I haven't had many good duck or duck confits in Perth, so I was apprehensive about ordering this. Thankfully, like everything else on the menu - it did deliver. Crispy skinned, with tender meat and a fragrant hit of orange. This is another great example of how Beaufort Street Merchant delivers on flavours that we all know well and truly love. However, the quinoa risotto was questionable as a "risotto" and felt like quite a mismatch in accompaniment to the duck. I definitely would have preferred a more traditional version with arborio rice as the quinoa didn't have a smooth creaminess that would have been a much better accompaniment to the crispy duck.
Maybe I should have also included the 6th thing Merchant does well is mushrooms, and things that are truffled. In conclusion, as well as knowing how to make a good french fry, make a good salad and put together great pastas, this place also know their meats and they do, do them well.
5. THE DESSERTS
A perfect way, to end a near perfect meal - is always with dessert. I've even come to Merchant for just dessert and coffee before because they're perfect for sharing and the flavours always excite. I've seen a variety of types of desserts on the menu, but my favourites tend to revolve around the rich and creamy side of things!
In enters Peanut Butter Mousse with Salted Caramel Crumble; which was essentially a big pot of rich molten salted dessert goodness. The golden, toasty nuggets of crumble melted in your mouth with every spoonful and it was perfect for sharing between 3 people.
The Merchant was also the first restaurant where I experienced the shallow dished "cheat pannacotta". I think it almost takes out of the fun of eating a dancing, slightly wobbly pannacotta that has been demoulded with the upmost care, but none the less it was still an interesting experience. Take note chocoholics, as this one is definitely for you!
I'm a big fan of tasting plates - I think whether it be for an entree, dessert or main, I'd rather have a well thought out tasting plate where I get to try a few different things. I hate the feeling of missing out on a good dish and I love that Merchant had included a series of chocolate desserts together in a concise series. The Coffee Cocoa Mousee tasted like a bitter sorbet and it was a definite contrast between the sweet white chocolate brûlée. There's something so satisfying about seeing a perfectly cooked chocolate fondant, the same sort of sensation we get when we see a perfectly cooked runny egg yolk - it's great! This is another great dessert for sharing amongst the table too.
I have a habit of melding all the components of one dish together in a single bite, whether you're meant to or not. My housemates all tucked into the brûlée seperately at first, but agreed with the revelation that was discovered after dropping a spoonful of tart, lime sorbet into the cracked crevice of the orange brûlée. It was such a wonderful play of temperature and flavours, to have something cool and sour, compliment something so sweet and warm. This is also one of my favourite Merchant desserts that has consistently stood out - I'm looking forward to see if they create anymore variations here!
I do hope that I've been able to give an insight into one of my favourite restaurants in Perth - I truly have enjoyed every experience here and will continuously look forward to seeing what they produce next. Albeit, the downside is that it is quite pricey, with 3 courses easily running into the $100+ mark per person. But, it still makes for an affordable lunch spot and it's a generally great place for all day dining - even for the mid afternoon lull as I'm impressed by the array of cakes and baked goods they always have on display. The problem is, I can never stop at just having a piece of cake here and the truth is, after seeing all that...would you even really want to?
Daily, from 7:00AM - 10:00PM
I really appreciate those who have been following me around Perth and beyond for the past few months. My journey so far with dinewhitme.com has been wonderfully rewarding and has shown me just how amazing following your passion really is. Upon returning home, I've decided to set myself a 30 day challenge for August, which I began on the 2nd. I'm determined to find the best coffee in Perth and share it with as many as possible. Feel free to keep up with my daily drink on Instagram and by tracking the hashtag #CoffeeOfPerth!