25 February 2008

Mia Café

The good oil on Mia Café was that it prides itself on its hearty breakfasts and does a solid mid-week lunch trade. Less information was available on its prowess as a dinner restaurant but, having fulfilled the BSB criteria of being open on a Thursday night and having a table for 4, it was picked up by our radar.

It’s a pleasant place – quite laid back casual interior with (we’re told) a peaceful leafy courtyard, although we ate inside. Its casual café style is emphasised by its lack of a liquor licence and the fact that non-alcoholic drinks appear to be a case of help yourself from the fridge by the counter.

More on this later, but first – the food:

A very passable tasting plate was ordered first (comprising baby octopus, beef strips, frittata and dips among other things), along with some less passable and pretty slapped-together “herb bread” (sans herbs).

While the menu is fairly limited, Thursday night was cheap pasta night – your choice of 4 pastas (although they’d run out of the penne) coupled with a choice of 4 different sauces for around $11. This offer was taken up by two of the Bloggers, the others opting for a chorizo and mushroom risotto (very tasty) and a chicken and ricotta meatball spaghetti (generous on the meatball side but bland at best).

While nicely presented, the cheap pastas tasted just that – cheap. A distinct thorn in the side of the Beaufort Street Bloggers is the offer of a reduced price item from the regular menu, with a corresponding reduction in quality. The Deliberator searched high and low in vain for some taste in his spaghetti and meatballs, and (in a world first) was forced to leave food on his plate as he switched his attention to the Brains’ risotto.

And now to our major gripe of the evening: having made a booking for 8:30 (although, to be fair, we were 10 minutes late), we were told on arrival that the kitchen closed at 9pm. This precipitated us being drawn into some kind of rushed and panicky vortex as the staff tried to extract and deliver our orders in an attempt to get us out of there pronto. While the staff were all extremely pleasant and professional, their focus was clearly on getting home as quickly as possible, rather than permitting the Beaufort Street Bloggers to dine in the relaxed and genteel manner to which they are accustomed. This was particularly irksome to the Deliberator, who simply doesn’t do “hurried”.

The starter came very shortly after ordering (not a bad thing) but the mains were then delivered before it had been finished and cleared away. While still eating said mains, we were asked whether we wanted coffee and desert in a tone that unequivocally said “order at your peril”. Not even an hour after walking in the door, the Bloggers found themselves catapulted back out onto the pavement, heads spinning and wondering if we had just imagined going out for dinner that night.

Overall, we were left with the impression that, while Mia Café may well be a nice place for breakfast, it hasn’t yet made up its mind whether or not it’s serious about the whole dinner thing. Limited menu, early closing and panicked ambience left us with the distinct impression that they were simply going through the motions.

In summary:

Service: pleasant and professional, but frantic to the point of distraction.

Food: Aside from the risotto and the tasting plate, fairly forgettable.

Ambience: Like the opening scene from “Saving Private Ryan”.

Highlight: The tasting plate.

Lowlight: Feeling like we’d just stepped out of a washing machine.

Rating: 2 whirling dervishes out of 5.

Will we be back? Maybe for breakfast (once the blood pressure has settled).

Details: call on (08) 9271 1599. You can BYO and corkage is $4 per bottle.Cost: $25 a head for shared starter and 4 mains (incl. cheap pasta special)

Coming up: Medya King Kebabs is the next establishment on our list. As the Sponge will be interstate next Thursday, we are not sure when we will be ripping into a donner with the lot and a box of hot chips. We will keep you posted.

Mia Cafe on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Agree with you about the lack of service.

Food can be very inconsistent, and that is poor considering that the menu is not exactly full of complex dishes.

Breakfast is, however, very good. I have learnt through experience not to dine at Mia for the evening sitting but they do a lovely weekend brunch.

Beaufort Street Bloggers said...

Hi anonymous. We very much agree that inconsistent food is even more disappointing when the menu is on the basic side. Mia would be better off getting rid of the dinner menu altogether because even though we hear brekky is good, we are less tempted to try it after our lacklustre dinner.

Anonymous said...

Guys, I can't suggest strongly enough that you give them a shot for breakfast!

I agree that the dinners are OK at best, but the breakfast is excellent!

Loving the blog, I'm an Inglewood resident.

Beaufort Street Bloggers said...

Hi tedprior, we wholeheartedly agree with you – Sponge and (the former) BITO refused to write Mia off entirely and returned for breakfast a couple of months ago. The service was much better (though still a little muddled) and the breakfast and ambiance were both superb. We were also impressed by the associated nursery which has a character all of its own. We can only assume that the café descends, Mr Hyde-like, into anarchy and depravation once the sun goes down!

Edward said...

What an excellent idea for a blog! I can second the idea that Mia is better for breakfast - though one complaint is the water smells and tastes of fridge water. They should seal the water bottles. . .

Beaufort Street Bloggers said...

Hi Edward, thanks for your compliment! Fridge-tasting water is everywhere isn't it. Such a simple problem to fix too...

Anonymous said...

What do you expect turning up to eat dinner at 8:30pm?! You are in Perth you know

Beaufort Street Bloggers said...

anonymous - agreed, we were being somewhat ambitious with our timing that night. We hope that by continually turning up late we might somehow start making Perth kitchens realise that they shouldn't be shutting down before Fat Cat goes to bed.

Anonymous said...

there seems to be something going on at the Mia Cafe. Not sure what. I don't go there often as I find they seem to be under stress no matter how many people there are inside.

Now It appears to be not open as much as before.

Glenn said...

Looked closed as i drove past at 8.30 last saturday night... I wonder whats going on?

Anonymous said...

I went there 2 weekends ago for my sister's b'day. There 5 of us for lunch.
First thing I noticed was that there was no table service, you now have to order and pay at the counter.
The food was pretty average, not as good as when we went there for the same occasion the previous year (and the one before that). The best bit was the waitress who served the food- she spoke so fast that I literally could not understand what she was saying, not could anyone else on my table.
On this experience I won't be going again.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree with Edward about the water. I saw the waitress pour the water (probably disgarded because it smells)from another's jug, into another half empty (disgaded jug) and put it in the fridge for a poor unsuspecting diner to be given with their order!!! YUK! Enough to make John Snow cringe let alone Robert Mugabe!

Well done BSB on your blog.