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dessert at parliament house

Sydney is a big place. Big. BIG. big. Large. Like Madame DeFarge. All knotty, uppity and out for revenge. [an account of the journey there]

I’d present a coherent food experience but the trip was decided on a few days before we left so no meticulously planned set of reservations for my moleskine notepad. Melbourne is all streets and cafe reccomendations, Sydney is all celebrities. Closely regarded monomonikered – Bill, Neil Kylie, Tetsuya; they don’t have KFC, they have Sander’s (you must try the chicken). I managed to knock off two. Bill and Kylie.

ricotta pancakes at bill's

Bill Granger, Bill’s, Surry Hills
Bill has more than one place, A revelation which made for a hasty humid sweaty walk along Oxford Street to Surrey Hills to meet the Sydney food bloggers for brekky. First thing I have to say is that the great thing about meeting fellow bloggers is that you can conversationally cut to the chase without those awkward “so what do you do” type forays where you end up talking about house prices because you both assume that that’s what the other person wants to talk about and instead talk about stuff like skinning rabbits. Lovely bunch of people. Hello Sarah and Duncan, Sue and J, and Saffy who organised it. I was a bit sad to let them go and had to make up some story about wanting to go to Central Station so we could follow Saffy around. The food. No sign of Bill with his daughter on hip but Toni did have his famous scrambled eggs. They were good but a bit milky and underwhelming after the build-up I heard. The ricotta pancakes with honeycomb butter were extremely good though and if there’s a gripe it’s that having to get bacon on the side is like having to pay for tomato sauce with a pie. Just saying.


scallop wontons kingfish sashimi steamed snapper
duck silken tofu mussels

Kylie Kwong, Billy Kwong , Surry Hills
There are no reservations so you just rock up and wait at the pub until they call you. Ideal for chancers like us. We got there a bit after six and there were just two people sitting at a table doing business like stuff and waiters standing around. I was a bit hesitant to enter thinking it was closed but no we were just the first and within half an hour it was full.

Kylie was actually there but spent the evening sitting there wondering if she should come up and talk to me and what she’d say once she did. Eventually deciding she’d probably feel like a wanker and settled for a smile and a nod when she caught my eye.

Great great great food. To get a wider range as there was just the two of us we went for the Kylie banquet. Only about $70 a head and great value since we sat on mineral waters after swearing off alchohol for 24 hours after too much sparkling and beer.The great thing was that it didn’t end up being like a dego, it was just a lot of dishes that didn’t look any different in size to the a la carte. We had
[checks notes on back of Newtown Beauty Therapy flyer]
steamed oyshes w/-ck mm; scallop wontons + crown; kingfishsashim; cutthefish-dried pork-lapsun; mussels in black bensau with garlic oneu size mantdy; sillu tofu ws hh peas br?l; duck; spqer;
All extremely good and extremely smart. Lots of looking over at other tables to see what they were having. Mucho ribboning and clever combos of core of ingredients with a menu that was obviously very personal rather than arch. The quality of the ingredients like the kingfish and the oysters and the tofu and seasonal touches like peas. The cooking was spot on and things like the cuttlefish just right. The duck was very arresting with large slices of orange and length of cassia bark on perfectly crispy skin. So impressed I bought the cookbook. Staff were great and knew their stuff. Vibe is a very imprecise quality bit the vibe was good.


Elvis’ Birthday Night Tribute at the Empire somewhere near Newtown
Lovley night. You don’t have to be young to be in a band you know. The drummer looked like Dennis Lillee and didn’t miss a beat. The organist looked like he’d just stepped off minding the door and kept scanning the room for someone to drag out into the street no doubt. The lead guitarist looked like he’d fallen asleep after a Bachelor and Spinster’s Ball 15 years ago and was awoken, befuddled at first, for this very gig. The MC made we wish there were more cabaret style Singing raconteurs in around these days. John Kennedy was a taller skinnier deeper voiced Nick Cave with better sidies and a more kinetic pointing style. Outstanding. Headliner Dave Graney was shit. Like being at Kim Il Sung’s Karaoke party. Did the cold spoon by following upn a rousing everybody up on stage singalong of Viva las Vegas for all the other artists with Are You Lonesome Tonight.

suckling pork at parliament house

Stranger’s Dining Room New South Wales Parliament House
cappucinoThis was the best for lots of reasons. Firstly that I would be having Sardinian style Roast Suckling Pig at a venue supported by the NSW taxpayer. The bits of pork from the flesh of each rib tasted that much sweeter and the crackle that much cracklier with the though that it might inspire a hundred speed dials to Alan to have whinge about how they only had beans on toast for lunch. No really thank you, as a little person, it was a special honour. The other thing was that it was a rare opportunity as the staff cafeteria was out of action so it was open to staff and they’d just got a new chef who was great. The place was abuzz with talk of suckling pig even at the bar where I picked up a bottle of Keith Tulloch 2000 Semillon. The decor is decidedly 70’s but they’ve got this great colonial style tableware with gold trimmed plates and everything bearing the emblem or the stamp of NSWG. I didn’t think to nick any but if they ever have a garage sale, I am so driving back over there. Cappucino and a dessert of Baked Apple with an Orange Glaze and a Blood Orange Sorbet. All fabulous and all for not much more than a meal at Cocklebiddy. Thank you New South Wales, here have some resource derived export revenue.


Three fave places: Kinokuniya bookstore, Dinosaur Designs, and DEUSexMACHINA. Fucked if I could find a copy of Gravity’s Rainbow anywhere. 5 000 0000 copies of Ayn Fucking Rand though.


You HAVE to do the Sydney by Diva tour where you are driven around the city in a bus with a drag queen for a hostess. It’s hilarious. My cheeks ached. Goes the classic sites like the Opera House and Bondi with bits on local history, tells you where to meet a feller (anywhere with bushes it seems) and where you can wash your hands, very personal at times – I was touched (but not as much as the Canadian guy). Lots of champagne and cheezels if you’re in economy and you get to do a choreographed routine.

And that’s most of it, shouldn’t have left it for five years. Worth the drive. Cheers to all the nice folks I met and caught up with.

Hmmm baked eggs in newtown Ophelia Circular Quay

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dego menu

While most of you are able to pop and in deal with just one aspect of my life, Toni has had to put up with me for 15 years. So I thought a night out might be in order. Since she’s sick of hearing about what I had to try in the kitchen at Jackson’s and we had such a good time last time we went for our fifth wedding anniversary, I booked a table there for the 9 course dego menu. Upgrading to the matched glass of wine with each course “meal deal”. Cutting to the chase, here’s all you need to know:

scallop carpaccio

Scallop Carpaccio with Carrot and Tumeric Sorbet (little bit of flying fish roe “tobiko” gave it some lovely crunch) Dukes Reisling 2004 WA;
Vietnamese Spring Rolls (salmon and foie gras, orange and mint – start at the angled cut end or it all falls out) Hugel et Fils Gewurtztraminer 2002 Alsace France;
Salmon Confit with Kiwi Fruit & Peanuts (this is interesting, it’s poached in olive oil and the thin slice of beetroot sets it off with just a little sourness) St Clair Sav Blanc 2004 NZ;

salmon confit

roast honey duck breast with pork belly

Roast Honey Duck Breast & Pork Belly (the duck breast sat on fois gras and pickled daikon) Moorooduc Pinot Noir 2001 Vic;
Rabbit & Red Wine Risotto (just great with the shredded rabbit giving just the smallest amount of contemplative chew) Orenella “le Volte” 2002 Italy;
Venison ras el Hanout (very complex Moroccan spice mix caught in a ding dong battle with a very peppery red) Woody Nook CabSav 2002 WA;
Steak Chips and Peas (wagyu) Eight Songs Shiraz 2001 SA;
Blue Cheese Strudel & Pear Yalumba Botrytis Viogner 2004 SA (a very slight fizz lifted the sweetness of the sticky);
Turkish Delight Souffle & Rose Petal Ice Cream (joyous gooey rejig of my favourite chocolate bar) Lustau “San Emilio” Pedro Ximenez Jerez Spain.


There were a couple of other little treats snuck in there, including one of the most nicely cooked bit of lamb I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating as for the others…well maybe I’ve revealed too much already. Was it perfect? No. The wall mounted airconditioning units could have been replaced by more discreet ones and I could have chosen a less tapered shirt, otherwise three hours of flawless food and engaging wine choices. Beyond the instinctive muh of it all, it’s three hours to think occupy your mind with food . In conclusion; with the well-executed good-humoured quirky eclecticism, the immaculately sourced referentiality, the endlessly disassemblable construction, and a measure of rejigged nostaligia, Neal Jackson is the Thomas Pynchon of the Perth restaurant scene.

And it would be back on the other side of the kitchen the next night. I’m really not fit to peel spuds here. Oh I am. Out the back? In a big bucket? Then put them in the water? Yeah yeah from the tap I know. Do you like my new peeler?

turkish delight souffle


A Little Moorish Cafe Phi Yen Aida

I’ve been neglectful of Perth things of late, too self absorbed and obsessed with making it on the world stage. I’m finding now when I walk down Perth’s main street, strangers will shout out “Hey Spicey! Where’s all ya foreign mates ya farkin’ wanker?”. So here we go, a collection of not so famous places I’ve enjoyed.

A Little Moorish Cafe
Robert and Manas took us along here and it’s a good thing they did. Otherwise impossible to have stumbled upon in the recently carved out East Perth, we found their selection of Moorish tapas and grilled food joyous and the subtle combination of spices showed great care. Came out to about $20 a head for food. I brought along a middling Tasmanian Merlot but if the dinner had been wrapped in lager on a hot night it would have been heaven.

10 Eastbrook Tce, East Perth 9225-7880 – in front of the “lake”(it may be closed for a short while for renovations so ring to check)

Phi Yen Vietnamese Restaurant
This is where I’ll usually head off for some pho if I feel like a walk for lunch from work. It makes the best noodle soups I’ve had in Perth and its duck soup is great. Stopped in here with Robbie and Vero on our way to see Nick Cave. The menu is an interesting split of Vietnamese entrees and Chinese restaurant mains. The broken rice with egg and pate was my fave and new love. BYO and wasn’t much more than $10 a head I think. Can’t go wrong really.

213 Bulwer St, Northbridge 9227-1032 –just off William Street

Aida Egyptian Cafe
Aida is one of the few places where you can still get Middle Eastern coffee after the sad demise quite a few years back of the “long and skinny” with its rugs of Arabian Nights and kangaroos. They have meal specials for $10 each. Last time I had a tasty fuolmedanos – egyptian beans cooked with garlic and lime served with pita bread. They also apparently have belly dancing on Saturday nights and if you tell them your name is Georgeff, you’ll get a free Bulgarian lesson from the manageress. The place is filled with gorgeous hookahs and you can have one for the evening with various mixes. I might just get hepped up on coffee and apple smoke one evening and imagine I’m on a giant mushroom then. Doskoro!

283 William St, Northbridge 9328-7677 – corner of Aberdeen.

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My last night in Tokyo, several days of frantic eating, drinking and shopping had ground me down to the point where not even the shop based joys of Shibuya could stop me from wanting to throw up and go to some quiet dark place. Not the ideal prelude to a final evening in Tokyo but I was ahead on points. I fell upon the mercy and wisdom of tokyo goat who had so far provided a roof over my head, a camera in my hand, and a suitably undisciplined voice of reason. Destination was an izakaya in Ikebukuro that had a big door but with a little door. Through the rabbit hole then. Personally I expected to be clubbed on the head but all turned out much much better.

teshigotoya menu

Reading a Japanese menu is always a challenge, so I usually pick the easiest to read one’s first and interpret/guess the rest at my leisure. First from the specials menu was hanpen (fish cake), and kurogomadoufu (black sesame tofu) served with a sprinkling of sea salt. Quite delicious cold with a savoury pannacotta texture.

The beers finished and we moved quickly to the business end and some sake. Asking the waitress she recommended one, Ginban sake from Toyama, but eventually confessed to not having a clue but we thought we’d try it anyway, the place was clearly good enough to take a punt on their sake list. Bought by the glass, a 1.5 litre bottle is bought out and poured into our o-choko overflowing into the small laquer masu it sat in. Lovely dry and clean.


The vegetable dish arrived, I’m not sure what it was but it was written as ninnikuyasai (garlic vegetable), tasting more like spring onion, grilled and served with (dengaku?) miso. Tsukune, yakitori made from minced chicken, which came out unusually on a paddle. Fish next and the choice was hokke (atka mackeral). This is a whole fish flattened out and then grilled. Very Japanese but so often done very badly, typically luke warm after having had the life cooked out of it. This one wasn’t, it was beautifully moist. The scattershot menu choice of the Okinawan dish of goyachamporu( bitter melon with eggs, tofu, and bacon) had the many textures and tastes in this dish blended well.


Next sake, Hakkaisan, which is possibly the best regarded sake in Japan. We had the Genjou [looks at scribbly notes flower? Seymour?] and the Shibori. Both smooth and tasty but the Shibori’s taste was boosted by the higher alcohol content. We had half an hour to enjoy them while our takenoko chahan (rice with bamboo shoot) slowly cooked in front of us. And we finished with this, miso (goat is right, the good stuff is subtle) and the Tengumae Ginjou sake. Being good sports, the staff let us finish off the bottle, bless.


And that was that, we squeezed our way out of the door. To have such a wide range of food, done so very well, in charming setting with friendly staff and good company capped and exceptionally good trip to a wonderful place.

Teshigotoya has a website and a map here.

The three exceptional photos here were by the talented and prolific Andrew Mc Lucas, the first guest photographer here none less. There are still more pics of the night by two snap happy Aussies at Flickr.


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As mentioned earlier, Toni and I chose Jacques for a celebratory dinner I predicted rather good and wasn’t disappointed.

While I am consistently inspired by the whole French food approach, recipes and regions, I hardly ever go to French restaurants. I think they are somewhere under Chilean meat restaurants on the list. I did, therefore, feel a little like meeting a pen-pal for the first time or being the crew of Galaxy Quest.

The restaurant is small and modestly decorated, which I’ve long taken to be a good sign, and the greeting was warm. Toni was complimented at least five times on her dress and I was good enough to contain my simmering resentment at nothing being said of my favourite green shirt.

The menu was traditional French and was constructed so it could all be done but the one chef – the owner. Unfortunately the restaurant is no longer BYO so our bottle of ’98 Harewood Pinot Noir had to wait in the car where it played with the cigarette lighter and beeped the horn until I went out and asked if it could behave itself for just one night. We ordered had a bottle of Chandon, the Australian Moet vineyard. Best an occasional choice, in both senses of the word. As for the the food, we ordered the Pork and Duck Terrine in Rosemary Aspic with a Port Jelly and half a dozen Escargot Bourguignon

for starters.

The terrine was a little disappointing but only for the reason that, cold, it made me think of being out in the open, on a blanket, under a tree. The snails were lovely. I was gievn I quick run through with snail holders and away I went. They were cooked in oil with shallots basil and garlic which was mopped up with in-house baguette. The texture was squid like gentle resiliance to the bite. Snails are marvellous, they represent a triumph of reason and inqury over ignorance and superstition. The Age of Enlightenment in a spirally shell. And gentlemen, be sure not to describe them as “garden bogeys” while your partner is about to enjoy her second one.

“Lemon Sorbet to cleanse the palate?” What a good idea. Lemon sorbet coated in white chocolate in a glass of sherry – joy.

And for the mains. Toni ordered the Duck a l’Orange, I had my heart set on one thing – Pheasant Marinated for Five Days in Sweet Madera Demi-glace of Pheasant garnished with Black Truffles.

The duck was very good but was overshadowed by the pheasant. So so very very tender with enough taste to match the rich sauce. I forget how rich proper French food is and with a normal sized serving, I was completely full. Toni, wasn’t and had a Cassis Sorbet surrounded by Meringue with a Berry Coulis. It was her favourite for the evening and the table next to us ordered one as well soon after. I had an affogado as a compromise.

We thanked the co-owner for the meal and the excellent service and she replied that they simply wanted guests to have the same experience they would like. Jacques came out and showed us the door (in a nice way).


The names of the dishes alone should send you there, if not, then I can’t help you. The full dining experience does accumulate a bill but the cost per dish is only a little above what you would pay at a standard restaurant. Perhaps not flashy enough for gaspingly special, but warm, enjoyable, and delicious enough to make it a regular low key treat. We said we’d be back and I think we will.

Jacques 292 Hay St , Subiaco, tel 9388 1323



A small Italian restaurant nearby when the planned meal at the Rosemount didn’t eventuate because of severe deadness is a good thing. It was cute, crowded, and Catalonian with a few Miro prints on the wall. Yes I know he’s not Italian , but come on – Miro.

It has $10 pasta mains. $10. Ten dollars. T E N dollars. Don’t pay anymore anywhere else. OK bad things out of the way, outside for the first half in the cold like the matchstick girl, but that’s not their fault and they empathised and got us an inside table as soon as it was free. The place runs at 15 to the dozen so the food is slow. No bad thing, but the good part of a bottle of wine on an empty stomach leads to boozy scoffing.

Had the bruschhetta – funghi and pomodoro and followed with the penne all’ arrabbiata (hot sausage, chilli, and tomato). Hot. Hot. All good with a home cooked feel and couldn’t fault it. Same for the bruschetta. Would have stayed for cake and coffee. Will go again. Neighbourhood good.

The wine was a NSW Arrowfield 2001 Shiraz occupying the dead centre of all considerations. Mid value value, inoffensive but not offensively so etc. Would recommend it, but not too strongly.

Finished with a bowling grudge match between the Floreat petit-Bourgeois Adventurers and the West Leederville Spartacist 3 (incl. left of centre ring in). Toni won best score and I won “player most resembling league bowler pre-game”. Winners are grinners. Shiraz gives me headaches.



Piccolo Italian Restaurant 44 Angove Street, North Perth; 9227-5250


New Norcia monky magic 7 grain bread. Can’t say I was thrilled by the sourdough (is it just me that picks up a slight soapy taste) but this 7 grain is excellent. Passed the “I’m just having it with butter test” with flying colours. From Leonard’s Deli on St Leonard’s Street in Leederville. They’re pushing high quality local produce and are doing the gourmet deli thing so pop in and support their endeavour. New Norcia bread on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

Last night went to arirang Korean BBQ restaurant last night in Subiaco and was impressed for a lot of reasons. You cook your own meat over hot coals and the marinated beef, pork and chicken (no tongue on first date) was deeelectable. Meat came with pickles, kim-chee, rice, and miso. The cooked beef is eaten wrapped in lettuce with rice like san choi bow. Great stuff and also had a cold noodle bibim neng myun salad to finish. Enjoyed the sweet spicy sauce offset by pieces of nashi apple. Hite beer was the waiter’s favourite and with good reason – everything a light summery meat eating lager should be.

Tops though, was the service. Heartfelt, sincere, helpful. They genuinely wanted us to enjoy our meal. This shouldn’t be unusual, but it is.

About $20 a head for the food, more than your usual Asian restaurant but less than what most meat and carbs places charge (won’t pay more than $15 – the Nookenburra Hotel hasn’t been knocked down yet).

Arirang BBQ Korean Restaurant 420 Hay Street, Subiaco

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The Japanese pop-punk-band Hi-Standard are a fine band and do swell covers of “Love is a Battlefield” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. They may also be responsible for a recollected interview. One of their members spent a fair part of his childhood in LA and speaks fluent English. He complained that reviewers are usually intensely disappointed at this. So he resorts to “We are bery excitement to meet you” and the interviewer is happy. Hence we come to Yahachi.

Yahachi is a Japanese restaurant and was set up from Japan by Japanese but it’s not what you’d expect as it’s a Western restaurant but it’s not really. You have to imagine a Tokyo restaurant making Western food but at risk of alienating its local clients, it sneaks in a Japanese ingredient here and there and has the equivalent of the steak and chips at the Chinese restaurant (anyone else remember the “Aussie” section of the menu?).

Yahachi sets itself up for failure because it’s not what people might expect in an obvious way and thus is a niche restaurant when Perth isn’t a big market but courts success by using local ingredients in a Japanese vernacular excellently.


Gang of four – wife, sister, birthday mum – so we went for a share of the hors’deurves for two and the mixed sashimi for two. The hors’deurves was a happy selection including rice croquette, cheese and garlic spring roll, and ball nigiri sushi. The sashimi was nannygai, pearl perch, and tuna. Althought the slices were on the small side, they were fresh and ambiently pleasant. Mum tried to separate two pieces, but finding that too hard, went for the pale green pile in the middle to a chorus of “noooooooh!”.


Had a wave of nostalgia sweep over me and couldn’t bring myself to order the dhufush so settled for mixed tempura. It was as good as you could expect, not greasy of course, the batter was light, the crunchy bits crunchy and warm. A whole plate was little one dimensional just to work through and it could have been better shared or had with soba. As I side I had chawanmushi, which is a kind of savoury custard but try as I might, I still had trouble coming to terms with dashi custard with chicken and mushroom, it was like having vanilla soup. The standout was my sister’s “thrice-cooked pork” marvellous pieces of slow cooked pork with a hint of anise on pumpkin dumplings. My mum’s barramundi was plain and flavoursome and Toni’s hasami-age chicken was the best fried chicken she had ever had until I reminded her of my fried chicken.


With imaginary sky salaryman smiling over my choice, I finished with pickles. I then nicked everyone else’s dessert. They didn’t bring the Japanese preference for small spongy cakes and the azuki bean and green tea ice cream was as traditional as the meringue was delicious.


It was a great pleasure, and hard to fault anything as all was cooked as well as it could have been – I’ve rarely had vegetables so crunchy. It was quiet for a Tuesday night, which was very calming, and the decor with shoji like walls filled with different silk patterns had me routing joints in my mind. Not cheap, but mains were all south of $30. Well recommended.

Yahachi The Colonnade 388 Hay Street Subiaco 9388 8330

Japanese Treats in Perth: There’s an Hayao Miyazaki Film Festival in Freo from the 9th to the 18th. “My Neighbour Totoro” is one of the most wonderful films ever made, achieving childlike without being childish. Info at the Film and Television Institute.

Also – Takeshi Kitano‘s Zatoichi soon!

Disclaimer: Toyed with this for fear of name dropping but to keep my last shred of integrity, I should state that I am friends with the Japanese guy whose onerous job was to come over here a year or so ago, do market research at every good restaurant in Perth and then set Yahachi up. Rest assured though, that if it were shite, I would have kept the visit to myself. I am not friends with Miyazaki or Kitano.


Not a lot of restaurant reviews of late and little wonder. The other month I had a lovely meal at Jacksons, punctuated by a sweary row over what constituted torture (“nobody was &%$#! &%$&# at #$%&% boarding school! oh hi ahhmmmm yes I’ll have the apple and walnut risotto for entree and the ahhh rabbit for main”) and then had a great meal at Cream where my sister and I managed to break or upend at least three glasses between us. Perth’s a small town, word gets around. I now book in my wife’s name.

Mojo’s in North Fremantle is a top bar and I’m old enough to remember when it was The Stoned Crow, they sold Kirup Syrup, and I was stunned as a green 17 year old to see a white rastafarian skinning up. Anyway, I got off to an early start on Friday and what I vaguely remember is here.

A quiet night was in order for Saturday so we went to my fave Japanese restaurant in Perth, Shige . I went there by farm Landcruiser and discovered the CB radio scene in Perth is alive and well – sample convos

Channel 1



1:ya sleeping in the &%$& shed tonight

2: yeah well at least my wife wasn’t f&%#& by my best mate.

3: Steve ya there?

Channel 5

1: to the hip hop the rhythm and the method…

2: I was sc&%$& today

3: Yeah

2: went to bed at 3:30 and woke up at 6:30 and chucked me guts up over me bed.

4:Steve ya there?

Anyway Shige was great once again, we took a bottle of Corr inspired Skuttlebutt Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon/Chardonnay 2003, which Toni enjoyed but I’d hoped for something a bit drier as a sake facsimile. Skuttlebutt is part of the extremely good Stella Bella family of Margaret River. For eats we had gyoza, fried oyster, tempura moriawase, and the grilled pike – all good. We were at the counter and watched the owner quietly and effortlessly just churn out plate after plate of food. Reminded by a Japanese couple of the very good Japanese piece of etiquette of offering a glass of what you’re having to the chef.

Sunday morning was an even more relaxed brekky at the Left Bank Bar & Cafe in Fremantle along the Swan River. The Left Bank is a bit disorienting as it looks like a pub but doesn’t have any beer taps, just bottles. Breakfast is good – scores big on (q*v)/$ – hollandaise, eggs, bacon, mushrooms and toast with a long mac. Flawlessly sunny what a place to live winter morning enjoyed and then back to the Australian dream.

Update Ahh Skuttlebutt, what a satisfyingly prescient choice – only one bottle though, didn’t want to go overboard.

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