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! 

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