These days, I'm sure on more than one occasion when a regular Tuck Shop punter gathers in line outside the corner of Newcastle and Money Street, they are bound to notice the increase of dining options that have sprung up within a nearby 50m radius. (you can read my posts about my experiences at the Tuck Shop here and here)
Yet - thus far that little slice of Northbridge has yet to deliver on anything that has been as revolutionary as what I consider to be one of Perth's new age brunch institutions. But, I wouldn't start writing off these neighbouring joints just yet - particularly one such establishment that is situated no more than 30m further down Newcastle Street. After walking past The Old Crow a couple of times, I did admire the sheer guts of the place. It's not easy to open up shop so close to such an established venue and hope to demand the same success. I also admire how they've decided to forgo the usual hospo holiday on Monday and close on Tuesdays and Wednesdays instead. Strategically, from a business point of view - it's a great idea to stock up, prep or even rest whilst everyone else is working. Plus they're open on Mondays which surely allows them to nip at those potential Tuck Shop customers who forget that Monday's are their day off and decide to try the place next door for convenience's sake. However, now as a customer and an already loyal fan after my first visit, them being closed on Tuesday and Wednesday is quite sorrowful. Here's hoping in future that they'll consider opening up every day - thus far, I believe that it's already one of my favourite all-day dining venues in Perth.
At Typika there are wine bottle cups and at the Old Crow...we were certain that these were from beers! If you venture beyond the outdoor dining area, it's actually pretty darn cosy inside; I could only imagine how perfect the warm and dim area would be for a night time dinner date! M and I had no intention of wasting the sunshine and decided to take a seat opposite the front counter. The service was both very thorough and yet slightly impersonal. It felt more like the staff were reading off a script rather than engaging in a conversation - this is neither a good nor a bad thing but it does depends on the situation. Some customers like a bit of chit chat and some just want their food; I'm definitely the former but I still appreciated their efficiency. We were served our meals within 10 minutes of ordering, which sent off alarm bells in my head. When food is prepared too quickly, I do feel skeptical about it being as carelessly put together as a frozen meal. Thankfully, I was not disappointed.
My love for parfait kicked in at a very late stage of my life - in fact, it only really surfaced last year! One of my best friends was so put off before even trying it because when people see "duck liver" they immediately think about how unethical cultivating foie gras is or how off putting offal is. But more recently, I'd say that it's been made very accessible and is now one of those killer entrees that a few places around Perth have workshopped from a fancy bistro dish into a crowd favourite share plate. When done well, Duck Liver Parfait exhibits a great balance of those robust offal flavours, encased in a simultaneously light and creamy parfait. Some definitely do it better than others, but the Old Crow immediately nabbed my attention with this one. The two textures of pear was also something that I didn't expect, but I thought was truly a great addition.
This is also some of the most amazing bread that I've had to date at a restaurant. Their charred bread is serious business - it is everything that is buttery, fragrant and crisp. I was in heaven, lavishly spreading my parfait over this beautiful crusty bread before carefully glazing my portion with pear puree. It's always the case with parfait that more bread is needed so as to absorb the last scrapes of duck liver goodness. Another round of the gorgeous, charred specimen was brought to the table at no extra charge. The bread looked so good, that the mere sight of it even inspired the couple sitting next to us to point it out to their waitress and ask for the same.
In truth, I find being gawked at by strangers like as if we/our food were at a zoo a little awkward. Especially in a "oh look at that! That's beautiful/looks horrible. We'll get that/never order that!" kind of setting, where we're not acknowledged at all but fingers are being pointed left, right and centre at what's on the table! On the bright side, our restaurant neighbours back this dish up very nicely for me - in short, definitely worth trying!
That second round of bread was definitely in order after I watched the oils of the pork ragout shimmer across the rim of the wide, orange pasta plate. I've not had a ragout erupt with flavour quite like this one has before - it's the kind of pasta sauce that you want to have in and on top of everything. It's so perfect that I'd have it any way I could - in a pie, in a sandwich, on a pizza...or even in a salad! That ragout was so rich and so flavourful that each forkful made me smile so much that my cheekbones could almost brush my eyelashes!
I'm well aware that we're paying $19 for the quality of the sauce - the serving size is definitely nothing to rave about. They could have definitely been more generous and I have a sneaking suspicion that it's because they know how good it is and they want to coax me into ordering two servings of it! Well, I was almost convinced - you can't really go past al dente pasta, perfect ragout and having even more perfect bread to mop up all the oils with afterwards.
After posting a few photos across social media, many other diners chimed in and suggested that simply HAVE TO try the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Chilli Jam, Pine Nuts and Buttermilk ($15.50) next time. They're probably one of my least favourite vegetables, but I'm always interested to see how restaurants try to make this childhood taboo more likeable. It's such a great venue with food that truly blew me away and I know that it wasn't just a fluke or a lucky pick. The Old Crow is truly one to watch and in my books, has well and truly earned it's place alongside The Tuck Shop. It's an eatery that I highly recommend and in future, I really look forward to visiting as much as I possibly could.