01 April 2009

The Beaufort Street Merchant

It had been a while since the bloggers had managed to get together for their Thursday night fix. Booto, Stinks and the Sponge had been gallivanting around the South-West, having every whim attended to by the staff at the Bunker Bay Resort. For Stinks, that meant somebody had to blow a raspberry on his stomach every minute on the minute. For Booto on the Sponge, it was a fresh bottle of wine every hour on the hour. Meanwhile, the Brains and the Deliberator went on a 5 day long eating challenge in the far east, where their fabulous hosts managed to stuff them with dim sum on a daily basis, plus all you can eat mussels, all you can drink gin and tonics and all you can watch amateur cricket.

When the bloggers read that one of their favourite businesses, the Beaufort Street Merchant, was opening for dinner, we soon decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to swap stories on how much squiz we had consumed, how many meals we’d had and how much weight we managed to put on throughout our respective vacations (which, on average, in the relevant units, per person per day was 14, 5 and 1).

The Merchant is a wonderful venture. The staff are friendly and fun, the produce excellent, the beer and wine plentiful and varied, the tunes always top notch and the furniture suitably eclectic. We've always known this so we were very keen to try it out for dinner.

On arrival, we were excited to be told that we could choose anything we wanted to drink from the bottle shop out the back, and the staff would open it and pour it on our request for a low low $5.00. The Deliberator and the Sponge put their hands up to do the all important boozy choosing, and ended up being away for around three quarters of an hour while they squabbled over the appropriate beer to purchase. They ended up buying one bottle of virtually every beer available, plus 1 bottle of French sparkling, and 2 bottles of Sav Blanc. Of course, this was never going to be enough, so they organised a second purchase of 3 bottles of clean skins to get us through the main course. And, as an aside, the cleanskin reserve chardonnay at $11 per bottle is some of the best value for money wine going around town. A blind taste of that stuff and you would swear you’re drinking Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay (almost).

Finally, after the Choosing Of The Booze and subsequent pouring, we sat at our lovely roomy table with our friendly flickering tea light and got down to the menu. It was a short but well put together menu with ‘something for everyone’. Gordon Ramsey would be proud. Of course, we had to start with the grazing platter which, for $22, was excellent value. The platter came beautifully presented on a large bread board and contained such delights as Danish feta, chorizo, catalan tomatoes and loads of crusty bread. We also had a cheeky serve of bread and balsamic and olive oil, which was a steal at $4 as the bread was perfect.

To the mains. The Sponge and the Brains wisely chose the meatballs ($17) – the meatballs were perfection – cooked in a thick, fresh tomato sauce and served with a mound of bread, they were some of the finest meatballs man could make. Booto went for the Thai chicken salad ($17.50). It was a generous serve of salad – spinach, tomatoes, cashes, avocado and snow peas, with an equally generous serve of beautifully marinated chicken breast. The chicken had a coconut flavour that was complemented very well by the salad dressing. It clearly demonstrated great attention to detail. The Deliberator had an equally appealing pie ($20) – 5 hour braised beef (amaaazing), mushroom and Guinness served with potato gratin, savoy cabbage and a little jug of gravy. Unfortunately, there was not enough gravy in that little jug for the Deliberator’s liking. Fortunately, our waiter immediately picked up on the distress on the Deliberator’s face and within seconds produced a second jug of gravy. The pie, after that, was perfection.

We finished of the night with a couple more glasses of wine (served in our favourite Riedel stemless wine glasses), a long macchiato, an espresso and the last four tiny cakes left in the store. The long mac was not quite right – it should have been a lot stronger – but this is a small issue in an otherwise seamless evening. An evening made even better by being able to pick up a cold bottle of tonic on the way out for some late night G&T’s on the veranda.

In summary:

Service: Our waiter, Tyson, was wonderful. Everyone went out of their way to help us. And the best thing about the service? It’s very relaxed without the rules that piss us off so much about so many places. Extra sides? no problem. Another jug of gravy? on its way. More beer? here it is. You wanna stay for more wine? stay as long as you like.

Food: Tremendous. Fresh, simple, generous and home-style. Could not ask for more.

Ambience: While a Simply Red CD was playing at one stage, we realised it must have been played in irony, so it was perfectly acceptable. The atmosphere is friendly and casual and the décor is perfect.

Highlight: The bottleshop/corkage set up and the divine food. Oh, and on the corkage, the menu says it's $5, but we were only charged $3. And that's one flat charge, no matter how many bottles you buy.

Lowlight: The long mac.

Rating: 4.7 crusty loaves out of 5.

Will we be back? In a heartbeat.

Details: You know where the Merchant is. You can book on 9328 6833, and we suggest that pretty soon it will become very wise to book in advance. The Merchant is open 7 days til late (there’s no feeling of being rushed out here). Our total food bill came to around $100 (excellent value), and drinks is another story. But that was our fault for buying one of basically everything they had.

The Beaufort Street Merchant on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Simply Red in irony? Not possible.

Anonymous said...

Dear Beaufort street Bloggers,

I recently ate at the extremely disappointing Veritsa on Beaufort street. I was with 3 friends; one a local girl, one a food gourmet from Canberra and another girl from Switzerland. When we complained about our lamb, the chef came out to ask us if we were the 'infamous beaufort street bloggers' and then proceeded to lecture us on the finer details of dining etiquette. He told us that we should give restaurants more of a chance.We were not impressed with his food, his unwashed hair or his arrogant attitude. We were impressed that your identidy gave us free dessert. However, we wont be venturing back. Good on you all for keeping the restaurants in toe!

Beaufort Street Bloggers said...

Hi Anonymous, brilliant story! We managed to sneek into Veritas unnoticed thanks to you. Although it sounds like we had a better experience, we'll post the review shortly. Feel free to claim BSB status in the future, it should keep everyone on their toes.

The Cooking Professor said...

Ate at beaufort St Merchant on a cold Friday night recently. Every bit as good as your experience. The tasting board was really tasty! (What a concept.) I had the beef pie - crusty pasty, thick, slow-cooked, chunky beef in a sauce that sang 'real stock is used here', with the extras as you descibed. Around the table were assorted meatball, chicken and other dishes all tasted by all and all agreed to be real tucker.
And the bill? When is the last time that anyone saw mains in the high teens, low twenties? Not to mention the all-but-BYO wine prices, just a short stroll away to the back of the store. And real coffee to top it all off. And a charming set of wait staff. And a chat with congenial Scotty, the owner. Could become an institution in the dining sphere!!!!!

Beaufort Street Bloggers said...

Hi Cooking Professor - we're very glad you had a great experience at the Merchant. It really has it all - great service, great food, great prices and relaxed atmosphere. We'll be back for breakfast and/or lunch over the long weekend for further testing.

Tim Cohen said...

hello there,

well just got back from 'sunny perth'. I gotta say that the coffee in perth is a hell of a lot better than when I was there last time, yet the merchant did not come thru with the goods; mac's are not strong latte's of burnt milk.
the highlight however was lincoln street - bloody great coffee from john butler's love children.


Anonymous said...

We ended up having to walk out.....

Hi bloggers,
After reading your rave review and my friend having enjoyed coffee and cake there for some time, my friend and I decided to try out the Beaufort Street Merchant for dinner on a Wednesday night. We booked in advance for an early 6.45 dinner and were starving having gone straight from work.
There were only a handful of people when we arrived and we really liked the ambience and candle-light- nice and cosy, so it ticked that box.
After sitting down our waitress came over to us and told us she was sorry but they only had 4 dishes available that night (She said they were getting a new menu on the thursday? she was quite pleasant and apologetic), and she described them to us (we weren't given menu's or told prices). Unfortunately she had a very thick european accent so we really struggled to work out what she was saying... but ended up realising one was a mushroom bruschetta, one was meatballs, one was some sort of beatroot compot with goats cheese? and the other was a soup. We'd never experienced anything like this before- usually i spend forever looking at the menu trying to choose, working out exactly what the dish might be like- so it was hard on the spot, without menus, in broken english. But I went for the mushroom bruschetta, and friend went for the soup. She left and we were quite perplexed but thought maybe it was all part of the experience. Anyway waitress came back and told my friend they didn't have the soup, so she had to choose from the other three dishes. My friend told her she was vegetarian so it was down to beetroot or mushrooms, but the waitress said the beetroot was more like an entree size so probably go for the mushrooms, which she did. Again we sat there baffled, and contemplated having to eat mushrooms for dinner (isn't bruschetta an entree too?). So we decided we'd leave. We told our waitress that we would go somewhere else and she was pleasant and understanding and again apologised because the new menu came out the next night.

So it was all a bit unfortunate. Since we'd booked for dinner it would have been good to have been told there would be no food?

We've heard too many good things about this place so definitely haven't black listed it but hope next time will be better! Do they always change up the menu each week or would this have been a whole new once off menu change?

Anyway it was cheap night down the road at sienas so we got our garlic bread, pasta, and gelato for $25 a head.

Anonymous said...

woah sorry didn't realise how long that was above!! I've never been good at concise!

on the way down said...


Following your glowing review of The Merchant in April my girlfriend and I had a fantastic Thursday night dinner in May. Great food, great service and excellent price.

I had friends visiting from NSW two weeks ago and took the opportunity to re-visit The Merchant (5/8/09
). It was a disgrace. As with the comments posted above, they used the excuse of a new menu to read us four (almost random) specials, although we did also get the choice of the old menu. It had not changed since our last visit, and so two of us took the opportunity to try the specials. One was corn fed chicken, the other a slow cooked pork shank. The chicken was raw, and when we complained to the waitress the chef came out and lectured us on the finer details of cooking a chicken wing. The pork shank, while tasty was barely worth $30 (the same price as the raw chicken wing on mashed vegetables). Overall the food was overpriced, and the portion size small. A long way from the pie and meatballs we enjoyed previously.

The other lowlight was when one of the wait staff snatched the wine bottle from my friends hands when he was pouring himself a glass. Classy.

I was embarrassed to have taken my friends there, and will not go again.

Anonymous said...

I used to live around the corner from TBSM and loved coffee and often a wake-me-up brekky. After moving (not very far) up the street I recently went back with friends to the new look 'Merchant' for dinner.

It was terrible.

I too am vego and there was no main course depite the option of the new menu. When we asked if they could make us something other than greens on the side the answer was absolutely not. They then offered us chips. For dinner.

The food took ages and half got sent back for being over and then under cooked. And now the Nick their old head barista has eft the coffee is average as well.

TBSM - stick to what you know. I feel like they are dipping their fingers in too many pies.

And honestly - in this day and age how can you not have a vego disk on the menu?!?!?!?!

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Anonymous said...

Love the Beaufort St Merchant. Favourite cafe/restaurant in Perth. Coffee is usually good-extremely good, food is delicious, love the rustic saucepans and earthenware that they serve some foods in & especially love the hot male staff member who wears the blue shirt! I would be there once a week if I lived closer.

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