Cam St Social, a new addition to Cambridge Street, is found
opposite the imposing Wembley Hotel. Affectionately known as “The Cam”, its run
by chef/owner Darren Walker and his wife Esther. Darren has previously banged
the pans at The Shorehouse, and more recently the popular Hillarys spot Lot One
If the venue seems familiar, you’d be right. This is where Hermosa
Cantina, a Spanish tapas restaurant, previously held residence. Cam St Social
is more likely to please the everyday punter than its predecessor. It welcomes
families, as well as those on date nights and enjoying a cheeky after work
For day dwellers, coffee is from boutique roaster Precision
Coffee and there’s a big brunch menu too. At The Cam “all day brunch” really
means all day. Here you can grab
bacon and eggs, 12 hour beef brisket, nourish bowls or the perennially popular
smashed avo (with a twist of chili and tomato salsa), right up till 4.30pm.
We’re eager to check out the dinner menu. There’s parmi and
pints across the road, as well as cheap food court eats, but there aren’t too many
quality dining offerings in the immediate vicinity.
We walk in with Little Chef in tow. The airy dining room has
warm wood tones with booths, tables and sofas. We choose a high table by the
window. An engaging waitress takes our order from the compact drinks menu,
which features wines from some smaller Australian producers. I choose a 2018 La
Boheme ‘Act Three’ Pinot Gris, from the Yarra Valley. This blend also features
riesling and gewürztraminer grapes, giving it fresh pear and musk notes.
The first of our entrees arrives, a plate of crisp mac and
cheese croquets ($16), covered with liberal shavings
of parmesan cheese. The gooey interior is oozing with cheese. We can’t get
enough of the accompanying spicy jalapeño and pineapple jam.
Silky chicken liver paté ($14) is spread onto slices of toasted baguette (or gluten free bread in my case) with lashings of fig jam.
Another tasty dish, a sesame crispy skin duck ($26), with raw broccoli, beetroot and pink grapefruit salad is a very generous entrée.
Little Chef is pleased with the kids menu. There’s a good
balance of both healthy and treat foods. He chooses the gourmet mini cheeseburger
($10), with hand cut fries, all made with quality produce.
Chef orders yet another scotch fillet ($37). Before I start
my eye rolling, I notice that this is far from your regular steak, mash and jus
combo. Served with a vibrant roast beet puree, steamed broccoli, pickled
mushrooms, macadamia nut butter and a rich red wine jus. This hearty dish is
divine. The beef is cooked perfectly pink, and has a deep charred flavour –
I’ve not tried many tastier steaks. I have serious food envy.
My pick of pan fried red emperor ($37), with a sweet pea puree,
and salt and vinegar potatoes is also a winner. Though I wish there is more of
it. I am disappointed to see there are just six chips, ahem, salt and vinegar
potatoes hiding under the tasty fish. I regularly drown my chips in malt
vinegar, so these really hit the spot. I learn that they are far more complex
than the humble chip, having been confit in flavoured oil and apple cider
vinegar, before being deep fried.
I have more than enough room for dessert. An apple strudel
($12) is the perfect winter warmer, served with crème anglaise and vanilla ice
It’s not unusual to enjoy a little cheese post-mains. A
deliciously different dessert of chilli and fennel poached pear served with a
double cream brie and caramelised peanuts is a show stopper – if you can stand
the heat from the fiery syrup.
I’ve been eating at Embers in Gooseberry Hill, for far longer than I care to remember. Back in the early 2000’s Chef and I would dine at the bustling Perth Hills stalwart for date night. Their gourmet woodfire pizzas were always a big hit.
More recently, I checked out the brunch menu at the cosy restaurant that is found amongst the gumtrees. It was a cold hills morning, and we found a cosy spot on the enclosed veranda by the pot belly wood heater, which was roaring away! Dogs are welcome in this area on a leash, good news for our pup Ruby. I love the rustic feel and the stone tables.
Ember’s version of the classic smashed avo ($21) with runny poached eggs, feta mint, cherry tomatoes, balsamic reduction and rocket on crusty bread is delicious.
Originally, I ordered the GF banana bread French toast. Since I was diagnosed gluten intolerant 2 years ago, I’ve not enjoyed a bit of French toast. So I was disappointed that they were fresh out of banana bread. Plan B, the skinny breakfast ($21) with poached eggs, sautéed spinach, baked avo with fetta, tomato and GF bread was still good. Simple and very fresh.
The kids breakfast menu offers eight yummy options, from triple choc pancakes, a mini breakfast, scrambled eggs and toasties. Little Chef chose the original kid’s pancakes ($10.50) with strawberry, banana, berry coulis, maple syrup and vanilla gelato.
Next door, the restaurant also runs a lovely gift shop full of locally made trinkets, as well as fresh flowers.
Embers is still as popular with families and small groups as it was 15 years ago. We enjoyed our brunch. The eatery is a warm and inviting place, especially on a chilly day or night, when the wood fires are burning.
Ever since cheeky Groodle Pup Ruby joined our family last year, we’ve been heading to a lot more dog friendly cafes than usual. And you certainly can’t get more dog friendly than Furbaby Cafe & Boutique!
The café has been a popular spot for animal lovers for some time, though it’s new to us. A pet accessory/gift shop, grooming boutique and café was a
hive of activity when we visited on a Saturday morning. The salon offers treatments from nail clipping to a full
groom with all the latest animal perfumes and products.
We visited with our pup, Ruby, for a coffee. Well, Ruby didn’t partake in the caffeine fest, but she had plenty of choice on the dog menu. Little Chef chose a creamy yogurt based bark-a sundae treat
for Ruby, who literally lapped it up! There’s also dog beer, puppy popsicles
and steak and mash for dogs!
Our social butterfly and was very excited to meet the other dogs, who were all very friendly and happy for a sniff and a wag.
All of the café’s seating is outside, in the covered alfresco area. If you have kids, as well as fur babies in tow, there’s a kids corner with books, toys, colouring and a big blackboard.
There are handy hooks on the walls to attach your dog’s leash, so you don’t have to keep hold while you try to eat. That’s something which we struggle with when we eat out, especially now that Ruby is bigger.
As well as breakfast and lunch dishes on the menu, there are cabinets inside with cakes and other treats for humans, as well as your fur babies. Little Chef enjoyed a ham and cheese croissant.
We had a cuppa coffee while the “kids” ate.
Furbaby Café even holds birthday paw-tys! How cute.
Whether you’d like to enjoy a coffee while you wait for your pet to be groomed, want to treat your furry friends to something tasty or just would like to dog-watch, it’s a dog lovers paradise at Furbaby Cafe and Boutique.
Find Furbaby Cafe and Boutique at 29/386 Wanneroo Road, Westminster.
There’s a brand new indoor market in the heart of the Swan Valley! The Swan Settlers Markets, open weekends, is found in the historic Swan Settlers Co-op building. Built in 1923, the huge shed processed currants and sultanas grown on surrounding farms, and was in operation until 2007.
2007 was also the year the old Midland Military Markets burnt down. I used to love going there as a kid! The new markets have the same manager. The rustic building has had an impressive $2.5 million restoration, with lots of jarrah and corrugated iron giving it an unmistakable Swan Valley vibe.
I find a lot of markets around Perth are overtaken by $2 shops and crappy overseas products – not at Swan Settlers Market! Here the stalls are run by local artisans that hand make their own goods. There’s a lot to discover – over 40 stalls offer a range of locally made products. Here’s my run down on what you can expect:
Food. Lots of food. At the Swan Settlers Markets there’s everything from locally grown fruit and veg to a gluten free bakery, and lots of sweet treats – truffles, macarons, crepes, cupcakes and loads more. I need to return to check the food out much more closely!
There’s also lots of locally made product to treat yourself, or to buy a unique gift. You’ll find arts and crafts.
A small garden centre with loads of fresh herbs, vegetable seedlings, succulents and more.
A retro-tastic treasure trove of vintage goodies.
And some Swan Valley favourites, like the House of Honey.
And why not stop for a bite to eat? The award winning BBQ by Gryphon Smokehouse offers some drool worthy slow cooked meats. It smells Amazing!
If you have kids in tow, Parents will be glad to hear there is a huge shaded sandpit, with lots of diggers, buckets and spades and other toys to keep them busy. There are tables surrounding this area, making it a nice place to grab a bite to eat and sit.
Original farming equipment has been preserved and is on show. A large machine has been tuned into a unique interactive coin donation device! It’s a great market, filled with all sorts of delicious produce to discover. Be sure to check the Swan Settlers Markets out!
Find the Swan Settlers Markets at 124 Lennard Street, Herne Hill.
Open: 9am-5pm. Saturday, Sundays and public holiday Mondays.
Young George, on East Fremantle’s George Street dining strip,
is a haven for lovers of fresh local produce and darn good food. Co-owned by
one of Perth’s most renowned Chefs, Mellissa Palinkas, along with her partner
Susan Whelan, who runs a seamless front of house – making the duo quite the
hospitality dream team.
Mellissa, formerly Head Chef of Mount Hawthorn small bar The
Cabin, made the move south of the river some time ago and we’ve been meaning to
visit ever since. Young George, isn’t so young anymore – the small bar opened
its doors in 2014. My apologies for being so tardy!
We’re greeted and seated in the character filled restaurant,
with Freo limestone walls, a long bar and roaring wood oven. Our waitress is
friendly, engaging and above all very knowledgeable.
The wine list has some interesting picks from WA and has a
focus on natural, single vineyard wines. I’m offered a taster, to help make up
my mind. I sip a Juniper Estate small batch fiano and like what I taste. I order
a glass of the light and citrus filled white, from the Margaret River winery.
Melissa is a champion of nose to tail dining, meaning there’s
minimal food wastage in her kitchen. Her
eclectic share plate menu is as interesting as I’d hoped it to be. Accentuated
with seasonal local fruit, veg, seafood and meats, and inspired by flavours
from all around the world, it’s a difficult job not to order one of everything.
Beef crackle ($6), arrives still popping and sizzling away.
The crunchy crackle, made from dehydrated beef tendon, is seasoned with a mild ancho
chilli salt. A simple appetiser that’s a perfect bar snack.
We get overexcited with our choice of house made cured meats.
Our helpful waitress advises that based on the rest of our order, two meats,
not four, would be plenty! She is right, the portions are plentiful. We’ll have
to return to try the duck prosciutto and wagu beef bresola.
The charcuterie ($35) that we do choose is served with house
mustard, cornichons and chow chow – a southern US pickle of caramelised
capsicum, cabbage and onion. A slab of gloriously meaty ham hock terrine,
bursts with fresh herbs, pickles and shallots. It’s devilishly good, spread on
house baked sourdough. Shavings of venison mortadella, peppered with pistachios,
is also delicious.
I relish charcoal grilled lamb ($35). The sliced leg meat is
perfectly pink, with a tasty sweet and sour eggplant sambal on the side.
A generous portion of tender buttermilk chicken ($38) is cooked
in the wood oven, giving a light smoky taste. Earthy flavours from native thyme
add another dimension. A savoury bread pudding, made from house made sourdough soaked
in egg custard, gives this soul warming dish a real peasant feel.
Colourful Manjimup heirloom tomato halves ($18.50), topped
with creamy smoked ricotta, toasted almonds and sprigs of thyme are packed with
We don’t need to order the triple cooked potatoes ($9.50),
but I just can’t say no. The ridiculously crunchy spuds are dipped in red curry
mayonnaise and we are so glad we over-indulge.
A little kitsch is often injected into the Young George menu
with dishes like marron thermidor and prawn toast. We finish lunch with another
old school dish, carrot cake ($16), which is anything but traditional. A light
and fluffy ripped carrot sponge, is served with pieces of sweet and spiced carrot,
a white chocolate and carrot ganache, milk shards and a corn flake crunch. It’s
a textural treat.
You may know casual restaurant The Island as “Isle of Voyage”. The spot found on Elizabeth Quay’s “island” in the iconic Florence Hummerston Kiosk has had a change of direction and it’s now home to a microbrewery, restaurant, garden bar and pizzeria. Little Chef, his Grandparents and I were enjoying a day seeing the sights of Elizabeth Quay after arriving on the ferry from South Perth. We popped into The Island, a restaurant that had opened in 2016, for a spot of lunch.
The interior is crisp, bright and airy. We’d recommend
sitting outside, to enjoy the amazing view. In one direction is the Swan River
and look the other way for a magical view over the quay to the city skyline.
The menu has lots of crowd pleasing favourites like fresh salads, share platters, wood fired pizzas, burgers and more. I enjoyed a light pomegranate and mixed leaves salad ($14), with almonds, orange segments, pine nuts, parmesan cheese with heirloom tomato and orange vinaigrette.
Grilled fish and chips ($26) is also available beer battered.
The West Australian fish fillet is served with lemon, tartare sauce and rustic
The junior bites menu… There are lots of yummy options for kids – pasta, pizzas, nachos and more. Little Chef tells me his fish and chips ($10) was very tasty. The fish is good quality and served with a generous pile of seasoned chips and aioli.
And of course the EQ playground is right next door, and
Little Chef enjoyed playing there until his lunch arrived. I hear there are
plans for a sandpit overlooking Elizabeth Quay coming soon.
We all enjoyed our lunch at The Island. I was expecting that it would be good, as so far as I’m aware the spot is still owned by the people behind Voyage Kitchen in Hillarys.
If you love buzzed about spot, Blake Street Merchant, you may want to check out its new sister restaurant on Beaufort Street – Ninth and Merchant. The casual eatery has good vibes, great coffee and a delicious menu. We headed in for brunch after a cheeky trip to Black Pig Deli.
We oohed and ahhed about the delicious coffee. Which was particularly
smooth. I had a feeling it was 5 Senses, which seems to be my favourite coffee.
And it was. So good!
Three types of eggs benedict grace the menu. Traditional,
royale with house smoked salmon, and a Florentine with spinach. The traditional
bene with thick cut ham ($18.50), poached eggs, creamy hollandaise, on an English
muffin went down a treat.
For those who love their veggies, the roasted pumpkin ($18),
is a deliciously different brunch dish. Golden roasted pumpkins is drizzled
with the Merchant’s own rooftop honey, and served with whipped ricotta, poached
egg, almonds and wonderfully crisp kale leaves.
I enjoyed the hummus and chorizo ($15), on GF bread (usually served with Merchant sourdough) topped with roasted peppers and onions. Though tasty and filling, I felt like it was missing something, next time I’d add an egg. It’s difficult for me to not have eggs with brunch!
We loved the coffee, atmosphere and food at Ninth and Merchant. I found the prices reasonable and the service was friendly and helpful. I’ve never been to Blake Street Merchant either and I feel I really must check it out!
A new restaurant has sprouted on the Hampden Road strip –
Mel and Co Garden. You may be familiar with the name. The original, brunch spot
Mel and Co Kitchen, is found in Cottesloe. We’ve dined at this venue before, in
its previous incarnation as The Wild Duck. What we find at Mel and Co Garden is
a different offering altogether.
Service is prompt and friendly. The space has been livened
up from its stuffy fine dining days and lush foliage is everywhere, even on the
ceiling. Vibrant murals of black cockatoos and green leaves adorn the walls,
making it a lovely spot to sit.
At Mel and Co the garden themed concept is a little left of
centre. The Asian fusion menu resembles a theme park brochure, including a map
of dishes, taking you through different Asian cuisines as well as the “Cactus
Garden” (Mexican) and “BBQ Area” (US).
In an age where we eat with our eyes more than ever, this
restaurant pulls out all the stops to create Instagram-worthy dishes. Even
marking dishes on the map as “photo opportunities” and “points of interest”
(signature dishes). A clever move which is sure to appeal to millennials.
The short and sweet wine list is overshadowed by Mel and
Co’s quirky cocktail offering. I just can’t go past one of the cloche covered concoctions.
A fairy-tale inspired “poison apple” martini arrives shrouded in mystery, under
the cover of a glass dome, full with smoke infused with apple woodchips. Our waitress
whips off the cloche and our senses are hit with the fragrant apple smoke. The vanilla
vodka, apple, egg white foam and lemon cocktail is as scrumptious as a lemon
At the waitress’s suggestion, we order five share dishes,
which all arrive at once. I would have preferred that the kitchen staggered the
dishes. We start with delicate lotus chips ($6) loaded with tangy pineapple
salsa. The bite size appetisers make for a delicious start to our lunch.
Pork belly poppers ($12), aka cubed and skewered roasted
pork belly bites, are smothered in smoky bbq sauce. These meaty morsels are
topped with salsa, and dipped into an irresistible crackling dust for extra
Next up, three brioche sliders ($16) are bulging with an
Indonesian rendang spiced beef brisket and slaw. A jalapeno dressing gives even
more kick. One slider is served on a black charcoal bun, which doesn’t add a
smoky flavour as you’d expect, but does add a striking aesthetic to the humble
I’m tucking into the pork poppers when a waitress theatrically
spoons candy pink pomegranate foam onto a salmon dish ($30). While the plate of
food is pretty as a picture, I find the salmon tasteless. The green pea puree,
broccolini, apple and fennel salad add fresh and crisp flavours to this dish.
We’re quickly running out of room on our table. A metal
frame is placed in the middle, where a long wooden platter brimming with pork
ribs ($42) is served, along with a squirt of apple from a spray bottle. Marinated
in a house-made dry rub, the moist and meaty American-style smoky bbq ribs are
finger licking delicious. A generous potato salad is on the side.
The Swan Valley is not only brimming with wineries and lush vineyards, it’s also an amazing fresh food region right on our doorstep. I’ve driven past the roadside fruit and veg stalls loads of times, but not really stopping, as I always seem to be on my way to a winery, café or restaurant.
Recently, the City of Swan has launched a new trail to follow in the Swan Valley. There are many self-guided trails on offer, maps can be found online and at the Swan Valley information centre in Guildford. As well as the very tasty ‘Sweet Temptations’ trail, you can now hop on the “Fresh Seasonal Produce’ trail. What a brilliant idea.
As produce is obviously seasonal, depending on what time of year you visit the Swan Valley, you can have a different experience each time. When this trail really comes alive is in table grape season (Jan-Mar).
During late March, I visited just a handful of the 30+ Swan Valley farm gates, produce outlets and roadside stalls. I was so impressed with their offerings and beautifully presented set-ups. Some offer coffee n cake, whilst others also had homemade ice creams and preserves for sale. The fresh bakes at Swan Valley Sisters looked delicious!
Grapes have been grown by the Nuich family for generations. They grow a variety of table grapes (we LOVE the Autumn Crisp), which are available for purchase at their shed for a few months of the year. Here you’ll also find dried grapes, and other goodies.
Little chef wants to go back for another delicious grape, lime and rose petal icy pole! We’ll absolutely be back next year to get our grapes from Peter and his friendly family.
This roadside spot is a fruit and veg collective run by sisters Tara and Anne-Marie. They grow their own produce on site, used in their tasty fresh bakes, as well as stocking organic and bio-dynamic produce from other small growers in the valley. I love that a lot of the produce comes with the name and photo of the person who grew it – its a beautiful, personal touch!
You can pick your own produce (by appointment) and Swan Valley Sisters even offer modern self-contained accommodation too!
OPEN July – Late March/April (Sat, Sun). Find Swan Valley Sisters at 1715 Gnangara Road, Henley Brook.
Kato’s at 3000
This hugely popular spot is owned and run by another prominent Swan Valley family. Kato’s is a great place to grab some freshly picked grapes and pomegranates.
Be sure to try Marlene’s freshly made fruit gelato too! It’s absolutely scrumptious and contains no nasties.
OPEN January – April (Fri, Sat, Sun). Find Kato’s at 3000 at 3000 West Swan Road, Caversham.
Next time you head to the Swan Valley, be sure to pop an esky in the boot of your car and bring home some fresh, locally grown produce. It’s so important to support these families so they can continue to grow this delicious produce for many more generations of West Aussies to enjoy.