Thursday, September 15, 2011

Elixir Coffee Specialists

Elixir Coffee Specialists
  145 Stirling Hwy, Nedlands
(08) 9389 9333

These guys ain't called called Coffee Specialists for nothing. 

Figure 1: Gorgeous blue Croation coffee cups

I'm pretty much in love with this place, for the following reasons:

1. Their coffee is amazing. 
2. The interior design is rather ni
2. Their cupcakes taste li
2. Their coffee is amazing
3. Their coffee is amazing.
4. Their coffee is amazing.
5. Their coffee is amazing. 
6. Their coffee is amazing.
7. Their coffee is amazing.
8. Their coffee is amazing.
9. Their coffee is amazing.
10. Their coffee is amazing.

Figure 2: Kooky interior pieces

 Figure 3: Stylish and functional design 

Tucked away behind Chelsea Pizza on Stirling Highway, Elixir is a narrow-roomed, high-ceilinged café which has a reputation for serving up the best coffee in the Western Suburbs. They've also got this awesome little back section which is just through a hallway which I thought led to the toilet... and then couldn't find the toilet and accidentally went into their back shed momentarily where they store all their coffee stuff... awkward.

I won't make generalisations about the crowd since I've only been there once for about 20 minutes, but for the time I was there, it was mostly older customers of the wealthy, work-a-lot type. It wasn't too busy at the time, as it was late afternoon, but I can imagine this place would be pretty hectic during the morning. The managers are two well-known locals, Justin and Jonny. While we were sitting down, I saw one of them moving around the floor, clearing dishes off the tables and asking customers if they were waiting on anything, which was really lovely.

Figure 3: Sacrificing a refrigerator, as you do

Figure 5: An incredible soy Cappuccino

I've decided that for this post, I'm not even going to try and describe the coffee in great technical detail. It'd be like a 7 year old trying to critique the Mona Lisa (this is a bit of an extreme example, but you get the idea). This was coffee at another level - it was chocolatey, heavy bodied and just heavenly. If I tried to go in and analyse the taste of this thing any further, I probably wouldn't do it justice. You're just gonna have to take my word for it: their coffee, is, amazing.

Me and Michèl also shared a cute little vanilla cupcake, which was soft as fairy floss and topped with shaved coconut. Just what I needed.

Figure 6: Coconut Vanilla Cupcake 

Michèl had a mixed berry smoothie with soy, which was a bit milkier and milder than other smoothies, had this really nice natural sweetness to it. I'm not sure how much it was, but the coffee, cupcake and smoothie cost less than $20.

Figure 7: Mixed berry smoothie
I realised something the other day - Michèl doesn't even like coffee. He never ever orders it (and when I give him a sip, he makes a face like he's swallowed a porcupine). And yet, he has put up with my continuous demands to be whisked around Perth to drink the stuff for almost a year.
I'm a lucky girl.

Figure 8: A refuge hidden away from busy Stirling Highway  

Elixir Coffee on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast."

Vans Sidewalk Café
1 Napoleon Street, Cottesloe
(08) 9384 0696

I like to think I'm a happy person.
Sometimes people ask me why I'm so bubbly all the time. 

My theory is it's because I never, ever skip breakfast :) 

I don't understand how people can skip the most important meal of the day. If I don't have breakfast, I'm Sleepy, Dopey, Grumpy, and if there was a dwarf called Bitchy, I'd be her too. If I don't start my day with a full belly, I feel like all my clothes are on backwards and I just want to punch someone in the nose... okay, so I'm exaggerating about the clothes being on backwards bit.

But seriously. I get violent.

On a sunny afternoon in Cottesloe, me and Michèl decided to take full advantage of Van's all-day-breakfast menu. It wasn't as packed as I thought it would be which was great, and the vibe was relaxed yet sophisticated, as always. There's always a lot going on - the waitstaff work quickly and efficiently, they dart around the floor balancing towers of plates, delivering flat whites, getting people seated. But unlike other busy places, you don't feel hustled. Perhaps it's the high ceilings, open-plan interior and abundant lighting that makes you feel so restful, but I think it also has to do with the consistently good and fast service you get that makes you feel at ease.

I have a new rule with ordering breakfast now: if you're having a savoury meal, have a sweet beverage; and if you're having something sweet like pancakes, order a coffee. So after placing an order for a savoury monster, I opted for a soy Blueberry Smoothie ($6.5). There's nothing I didn't like about it. It was this incredible purpley colour which could only mean bulk fresh fruit, you could tell the yoghurt in it was definitely good quality stuff, and even though it was luscious and thick it was still so refreshing. Roughly ten times better than a Gym Junkie at Boost.

Ladies and gents, I present to you Van's Breakfast Bruchetta - chargrilled sourdough, baked leg ham, slow roasted tomato, spinach, feta & soft poached egg ($20). I was so happy about this dish that I showed a photo of this thing to anyone who cared for the rest of the day (or didn't care, and were too nice to say so. This was probably most people actually, but I enjoyed sharing my enthusiasm all the same).

I don't even know where to start with this dish - the deliciously gooey free-range egg on top? The salty and sweet folds of leg ham in the middle? Or the smoky sourdough on the bottom? I think the best thing about this dish was that all the ingredients tasted so good together, even though there were six or seven different things stacked on top of one another. The paper-thin proscuitto, feta and perfectly seasoned, wilted spinach elevated the dish from your average breakfast cafe fry-up to an indulgent treat. I owe everything to you Angela - I ordered the bruschetta because I remember you said you had it on your birthday last year. Omnomnom.

Michèl went for the Big Breakfast ($21) which was pretty self explanatory. It was massive: scrambled eggs, tomato, mushroom, crispy bacon and two slices of toast.

Boy gotta eat.

Before I started eating, I thought I might have room for some dessert afterwards. How very foolish I was. But I checked out the desserts at the counter anyway, and was delighted to find some gourmet baked treats (I'm definitely coming back for to get an Apple, Strawberry and Pistchio Muffin) and most importantly, some pretty yummy looking macaroons. I've been thinking of making a Perth Macaroon Directory on my blog, what do you guys think? :)

Vans Sidewalk Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 3, 2011


100 St. George's Terrace, Perth
(08) 9481 8333

Recently, I was lucky enough to a cosy gathering for Chong's 20th Birthday on the Greenhouse roofdeck...

... celebrated in the company of close friends...


 ... generous amounts of beer... 

... and some pretty freakin' delicious food.

Chongy has worked in restaurants since he was 14, and began working at Greenhouse in January. He started off as a kitchenhand doing basic prep work, and eventually moved up to making scrumptious Greenhouse pastries and pizzas. Lucky bastard.

If there's one thing I know about Chong, it is this: he loves what he is doing. Every time I talk to him, all he does is rave on about this dish and that ingredient, and Bel you gotta come in tonight, Bel I'm working tomorrow and you gotta try this new rice pudding Bel-Bel-Bel-come-to-Greenhouse-omg-omg-Bel-croquettes-omgomghaloumiomgomgpizzabaseomgrabbitpieomgomgomg. And I don't know how, but somehow the crazy boy manages to balance working about 40 hours a week at Greenhouse with a double degree at UWA, and he's never failed a unit.

Seems impossible, but it makes sense if you think about it. Only someone that passionate about food would be able to pull something like that off.

Kylie and I sped up the freeway and arrived at Greenhouse about half an hour after the party had started, just in time to snatch a spoonful of this stuff: a tapas style serving of Thai green papaya salad. It vividly brought back memories of my backpacking trip to Thailand, when Cynthia and I would order papaya salad made fresh by the colourful and charismatic street vendors. Best thing ever to wolf down after a hot & humid day exploring the streets of Bangkok. The refreshing mixture of minty freshness, white-hot spiciness, crunchy-crispiness and a hint of sugar was more of a physically refreshing experience than anything. 

Greenhouse's rendition of this dish was less spicy but a bit sweeter than what I'd had before, so I really got to enjoy the taste of the ingredients and the complex flavours going on. Nice mix of bright colours and had a beautiful crunch.

Next up were some absolutely divine croquettes. Tossed in Japanese breadcrumbs, filled with béchamel sauce (a variation of white sauce) and machengo (buttery Spanish sheepsmilk cheese), they were pretty much a dieter's worst night mare, and a foodie's delight. When I first sunk my teeth into the crunchy coating and broke into the cloud-like filling, I had no idea what was in it, and spent some time wondering if it was mashed potato? Or maybe something creamed...?

But by the fourth one I had stopped caring. They were just so good. 

For the last of our savouries, we were graced with a steady flow of Greenhouse pizzas in three different flavours. Greenhouse uses stone milled flour for their pizza bases, and to stop the dough sticking to the bench, they coat it in milled wheat grains. This is not only better for you but also gives their pizzas a coarser texture and a really nice rustic, wholesome flavour.

Yummy Pizza #1 was probably my favourite - topped with spiced smoked pumpkin, goats curd, chorizo and fresh parsley. I think I prefer vegeterian pizza in general. To me, pizza dough and mounds of melted cheese are already pretty heavy, so I find vegetable ones lighter and more pleasant to eat. I love, love, loved the spiced pumpkin and its creamy texture which was delightful with the thin pizza base.

Yummy Pizza #2 was buffalo mozarella, pancetta and potato, amongst other things. I didn't get any photos, this one went too fast! And Yummy Pizza #3 came topped with a rich sugo base (italian pasta sauce made from tomato, red onion and basil), chorizo, red peppers and machengo cheese. 

I went downstairs before dessert was served to watch the chefs plating up, which made eating the desserts that much more enjoyable because I saw how the elements had been put together. I stood there with my camera, being annoying, probably standing too close to the food and leaning over the counter, firing questions at the Greenhouse chefs, doing my thing - but they seemed almost used to it, and were really easy going. Naww.

These desserts were straight off the menu, except miniature versions, served on a Chinese soup spoon. The white one was yoghurt parfait, which was beautifully smooth and creamy. In summer, Greenhouse serves it with seasonal watermelon, but as it was winter, this time it was topped with persimmon poached in sugar syrup.

The second dessert was something like a trifle: a layer of chocolate sponge, a layer of rich dark chocolate cherry mousse and a dollop of coconut cream to finish. Scattered on top was some raw cocoa (which I'd never even seen before) which added a nice crunch and little bursts of bitterness. The tartnesss of the cherry centre was rounded off really well by the dark chocolate. The next day at work I bought a cherry ripe, and just felt so empty. And you don't understand; I love cherry ripes.

Bravo, Matt Stone.

 Greenhouse, I will be back :)
Thanks to Chong for helping me put this post together! 

Greenhouse on Urbanspoon