I think we're all sucker for wordsy neon signs; there are too many, or rather some would say, not enough photos on Instagram of Venn's "TOGETHER" or the Apple Daily Bar's " 没有胭脂鱼" (which means No Mullet!). It's a design element that will attract even the most subtle of attentions, I have to admit - I'm a big fan, I'd probably put one in my own house one day. Perth's newest neon wonder cropped up on Instagram a few weeks ago from an unlikely source - Mt Lawley's newest bakery come cafe! Brunch and All Day Breakfast has a very special place in my heart and it wasn't long before I made my way over to Perth's newest offering.
I think Mary Street is one of the most beautiful streets in Perth; tree lined, wide and gorgeous on a sunny day. Unfortunately for me and maybe you too, I took the temporary good weather for granted and didn't snap a photo of it when I had the chance. Just as we were done eating, it started pouring down with rain! We originally arrived just before 10:30AM, otherwise known as the mid-morning brunch peak period - all the tables inside were full, even the communal ones! The short fall of sitting outside at most cafes is that the staff will then proceed to forget about you even before your orders are taken. No such thing here at Mary Street Bakery - we were well taken care by all of the staff from start to finish.
Since I was in the middle of my #CoffeeOfPerth challenge, the first point of order was to of course order a coffee. The Mt Lawley dining scene is full of stiff competition and if a new cafe wants to get ahead, good coffee is mandatory. We got two coffees and when my Long Mac hit the table, I think my jaw soon followed after that.
I'm a coffee fanatic; I do love everything about it from the flavours, to the craft behind it, to discovering as much about it as I can. Having said that, despite not being an expert, I would still think twice about sending a coffee like this out. I'm not sure how many hands this cup passed through, but I do wonder why it wasn't remade on the spot. The espresso was burnt and the milk had curdled and my Long Mac was either not topped up or had been sitting around for so long that the foam had deflated. It was very disappointing and not the standard that I would expect from any good cafe in Perth, as well as one that had just opened.
However, as I mentioned earlier - the service was flawless. I returned the coffee, with no questions asked, swift apologies and reassurance that a replacement would be on the way.
I'm by no means a cilantro/coriander fan and they are usually ceremoniously pushed to the side of my plate or lifted out of my soup bowl. Not today! There was something about this dish that made me want to scoop everything up into one fork full and dig in. It was a huge serving and perfect for sharing between two, which is exactly what we did!
I loved the flavours; the garnishes were so relevant and tasty; especially the green apple kimchi, which was delicious and a perfect accompaniment to the fatty pork belly. The beans were also amazing - savoury, tender and honestly, something that we could have had a big portion of on their own. There are two portions of thick cut pork belly and the first one, as you can see was beautifully crispy and so well seasoned. We ruthlessly tucked in - it's a heavily seasoned dish; I wish it came with some bread to mop everything up with!
The downside was the fried egg. It's no secret that I'm a poached egg fan and if it's not poached, I at least hope for the yolk for be runny. The fried egg was completely hidden from view and slightly overcooked when I plunged my fork through the middle. The fried egg just seemed a bit of out of place and probably not the best accompaniment to this dish. The fat of the second pork belly also wasn't well rendered. Instead of the crispy skin that we got with the first slab, it was incredibly gelatinous and quite unpleasant to eat.
Honestly, what would make me come back is their extensive range of baked goods. I was very impressed with the donut - it reminded me of the super soft sweet potato donuts that one of my aunts use to make when I was still a kid. It wasn't greasy or heavy and wonderfully coated with slightly spiced sugar.
The donut was also a perfect accompaniment with the replacement coffee that came. The texture of the milk was spot on and exhibited Pound Coffee's recognisably dark bitterness well. It was a very noticeable improvement from the first cup that I received.
Our brunch wasn't a complete disaster but there were some consistency issues that hindered on our visit. The decor and the service were wonderful and I am curious to see what the rest of Mary Street Bakery's menu has to offer. (Slow cooked Lamb with Olive, Yogurt and Quinoa...I'm probably going to come for you next time!)
Having read up on a lot of feedback and talked to a few other MSB visitors, there are still some growing pains to work through. There's a unique concept in place, a great fit out and a good team behind it and I sincerely hope that what they put out will start to measure up soon.