Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gordon St Garage: Great Ambience with Decent Food

Gordon St Garage
Someone once asked me what I thought of Gordon St Garage. Unthinkingly, I said it was okay. When further pressed on whether I would return, I replied that I have returned. To my friend's surprise, she asked why; was the food good?

It got me thinking about how I felt about Gordon St Garage...

At first glance, Gordon St Garage reminds me of a Melbourne institute: The Commercial Bakery. Both are housed in garages and Gordon St Garage is simply a garage on Gordon St. The name is simple enough to remember but it relies heavily on being at Gordon St. Can you imagine if the restaurant has to relocate and is no longer at Gordon St?

The tall ceilings allow plenty of natural light into the place while the place is decorated simply with an industrial canteen feel. This gives a simple and effortless vibe that relaxes and makes one feel completely at ease- no fancy dress required.

Founded by the culinary alumni at Duende, Balthazar and Il Lido, Gordon St Garage operates as a coffee bar and kitchen which serves food from day to night.  I am a huge fan of breakfasts but both visits occurred at the godly hours of noon so this is a combination post of my first and second lunches at Gordon St Garage. The menu changes based on the freshness of the ingredients and their availabilities so the menu is kept fresh and exciting. It will pay off if you are a regular but I can also see others wanting to come in for their specific favourite dishes.

On my first visit, it was rather warm and I needed a caffeine jolt so an iced coffee was a natural choice.

Iced Coffee ($6)
The iced coffee was smooth without any acridness though it hinted at a tinge of bitterness. The ice-cream provided a nice chill and creaminess to the drink. However, the ice-cream was not smooth by itself unlike dessert quality ice-cream.

Chicken salad- coconut poached chicken, herbs and green chilli ($18)
This dish is entirely for show and tell since I did not try it. My companion's feedback was that it was decent but was nothing to rave about.

Two sliders; garage pastrami, pulled BBQ pork, and chipotle chilli salad ($18)
For a dish that has an amazing description, this failed to deliver. Firstly, the sliders were on the small side of what I've come to expect from sliders. Maybe it will satisfy a petite eater but I wasn't satisfied when I finished. On the left, there was the garage pastrami slider. The buns for the garage pastrami slider fared better because they were softer but the taste of the pastrami got lost amongst the flavour of the slaw and the watery mayonnaise. It got rather messy with liquid mayonnaise flowing. In the middle was a fennel and coriander salad. Don't ask me why it was called a chipotle chilli salad. As for the pulled BBQ pork slider, the contents were good with juicy BBQ pork and small sweet chunks of fruit (I think it was pineapple). However, the buns were crusty which made biting through the slider difficult. Also, it had a bad bun to meat ratio at about 2 or 2.5:1.

On a side note, I wish there can be more done to the burgers in Perth! Honestly, burgerology (yes, I made the word up) is an art/science. Believe it or not, there are ratios formulated for burger making!

Napoleone Pear Cider ($10)
I was parched from the dry bread and the endless talking that took place that I HAD to get something to drink. My cider of choice was pear instead of the usual apple and I noted that it was from Yarra. I thought the pear cider was light, fruity and refreshing but the ice soon watered down the taste of the light flavoured cider.

I couldn't help glancing towards the displays of sweet treats that distracted me since they greeted me on my way in.

Sweets on display on your way in.
Showcase of entremets and macarons.

Chocolate and Sour Cherry Mousse ($10)
It may seem strange but chocolate isn't usually my first choice. I was intrigued by the sour cherry component since I hardly see sour cherries used in desserts except for black forest cakes. As sour cherries are harder to get hold of, I had to try Gordon St Garage's unique dessert. The dessert composed of sweet, sour and bitter notes accompanied by the fragrances of earthy dark chocolate and tangy fruit. It was a good dessert but it did not create any fireworks for me.

On my second visit, it was for a farewell lunch so I didn't get to take many pictures except for my own food and beverage. The place was completely packed for Friday lunch with a queue forming at the entrance. As a result, service was slow and the food and drinks took a long time to arrive. On this occasion, we didn't mind the long waiting time since our group had plenty to catch up on.

Latte (~$4)
As of 14 April 2013, Gordon St Garage launched their in-house small batch specialty roasted coffee brand; "Mano a Mano" (Italian for "hand to hand"). It is all about hand sourcing single origin beans to hand making the roasts in their Probat roaster. You can tell that Gordon St Garage is serious about their coffee and I appreciate their passion for coffee. My latte was smooth, not burnt, no acrid taste and honestly, it is one of the better lattes in Perth. It is one of my pet peeves that some places seem to confuse latte with milk coffee or watery milk coffee.

Vietnamese baguette; braised pork shoulder, wombok slaw, Asian herbs and lime aioli ($16)
I have a tender spot for Vietnamese baguette or bahn mi. Basically, it is a meat-filled sandwich using Vietnamese style baguettes (more light and flaky than traditional French baguettes); various types of pork, chicken, or sardines; pate; fresh vegetables; herbs; pickled vegetables and condiments such as chilli, mayonnaise etc. This was more like a western take on a bahn mi with juicy braised pork shoulder, a mayonnaise-based slaw made from mung beans (bean sprouts), lettuce, carrots and herbs, and a light flaky baguette. It lacked the richness of the pate, mouth feel of additional protein, intense freshness from additional herbs, and the sharp flavours from pickled vegetables and chilli. As I was eating the baguette, I noticed that the bun to filling ratio favoured the bun since I felt like I was eating the bread half the time. Nevertheless, it was decent and I preferred this to the sliders I had from before.

I also liked how my Vietnamese baguette came in a "Gordon St. Garage" printed paper bag which made eating more convenient and less messy. Kudos for being thoughtful and considerate to the customers!

A special mention goes to the service at Gordon St Garage which was excellent on both visits. Even when the place was packed on my second visit, the waiter took very good care of us though he probably wished he could clone himself then! I love the concept of the place, service and coffee that while the food was decent, I can see myself returning. Will I rush to return? Probably not.

Gordon St Garage
Opening Hours: Monday - Sunday (7am to late)
Address: 16 Gordon St, West Perth, WA
Telephone: (08) 9322 8050

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