Tom's Kitchen, Perth
Shafto Lane in Perth's got dining options to suit different tastes and budgets. There's The Generous Squire microbrewery and pub; Taka's Kitchen, a student favourite for cheap tasty Japanese nosh; Durty Nelly's Irish pub; and yet another gourmet burger bar in The Burger Bistro. And there's Tom's Kitchen, serving modern yet rustic bistro food.
I'm at Tom's Kitchen for a midweek dinner with my friend and work colleague C.
C orders the entree*-size gnocchi with fennel and chicken in a white wine vinaigrette (AU$18, main size AU$24). Like all pasta served at Tom's Kitchen, the gnocchi is handmade. Black pepper is offered, accepted and freshly cracked.
I see the words "slow cooked pork belly" and that's my decision made. It's a hearty rainy day dish of slow cooked pork belly, beer braised cabbage, cannellini beans and crackle (AU$30). On the plate are two chunks of pork belly complete with melt-in-the-mouth layers of fat, served on soft braised cabbage and tender beans, sprinkled with a crunchy crackle crumble. It's warming and comforting, though it would be enhanced by more seasoning.
C is full and doesn't want sweets but is quite happy to watch me eat dessert (that's a true friend!). I choose the flourless chocolate cake with lime curd, praline and chocolate dirt (AU$14). The tangy lime curd and velvety, slightly bitter chocolate cake are a superb combination, but my favourite element on the plate is the chocolate dirt, which reminds me of eating Milo with a spoon straight out of the tin. In fact, I almost wish I had a mug of Milo (no, that's not in the menu) instead of the flat white I've ordered, which tastes slightly burnt.
While nothing's exceptional or unique, we enjoy our dinner at Tom's Kitchen. It's fancy enough for date night without being special occasion fine dining, but if you're after an intimate dinner with your beloved, the communal tables may be a turn-off, especially on the busier nights. Sitting at one of the long tables, eavesdropping seems unavoidable. Personally, I'm not a fan of communal tables unless I'm at a pub or it's cheap and cheerful casual dining or the menu's specifically designed for group dining/sharing. I like "cosy" but prefer to choose who I bump elbows with. What do you think of communal tables in restaurants?
Shop 3b Shafto Lane, Hay Street
Perth WA 6000
Telephone: (08) 9321 0345
Monday to Thursday 6.30am - 9pm
Friday 6.30am - late
*In Australia, we call the first course "entree". What Americans call "entree" is what we call "main course".