June 2016 Update: Subidoo has now closed for business.
Bad name, great place
I'm sorry, but perhaps Shakespeare got it wrong when he said 'a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.' Names are important, especially in the cutthroat world of modern catering. And Subidoo is a pretty dodgy name, bringing to mind (the obvious) Scooby Doo - and by association - bad American accents, dodgy 70s clothing, sub-standard animation, kids staring zombie-like into the TV and just general bad taste.
Which is such a pity because Subidoo is, like… totally awesome.
In all sincerity, it really is.
There is a new kid on the old (Oriel) block, image courtesy website
Subidoo has taken up residence in the site of the former Oriel café, that stalwart of the 1990s late nights, where it was pretty much the only place in Perth open after 10pm. Oriel died a slow death. The New Oriel that replaced it briefly died a much quicker death. I'm hoping that Subidoo sticks around for a long time yet.
Subidoo is trying to be many things to many people – it is open for brunch (weekends), lunch and dinner. It also does takeaway rolls, wraps, juices and coffee for those in a rush. If you arrive before 11am on a weekday you are restricted to whatever is in the takeaway corner. Brunch is only available on weekends, from 7am on Saturdays and 9am on Sundays. They are open til 'late' every day. Did you get all that?
But its main focus is South American inspired share plates, one of the first in the area to offer such dishes. And as long as you like ribs, you're in for a real treat.
Non-carnivores are actually very welcome at Subidoo, with ten of the 22 options on the all-day menu meat-free. This includes street style chargrilled corn cobs with chipotle mayo and cheese ($9), one of my favourite dishes. I would have liked to see more grill marks on the corn itself, but the quantity was generous and the chipotle mayo (considering I usually avoid anything with chipotle) was lip-smackingly good, and the whole thing was covered in freshly grated cheese. I would definitely recommend this dish.
Other veg-friendly dishes are the five salad or hot veg dishes and include live beetroot salad with spinach, sunflower, golden beets, fetta and pistachio dukkha ($16). (I'm not sure what the 'live' beetroot means either), or the green apple salad with shaved fennel, pecans, cranberries, mint and chard, also for $16.
You feel happy and healthy just reading about it.
The happiness continues but the healthful feelings stop when you get to the 'on the bone' section of the menu, which basically consists of three types of ribs (pork and beef), fried chicken, chicken wings and smokey charred sausages ($19-$22).
My friend was a ribs-virgin but was prepared to give it up for the Cuban BBQ spare ribs with roasted sesame and lime ($22). They were – quite literally – finger licking good.
It's important to stop here and note that I can't recall picking up my knife or fork the entire time I was at Subidoo. This is well and truly finger food territory, and even though we were given a decently sized finger bowl to wash in, it was much more satisfying licking our fingers clean, and then going back in for more. If you're on a first date or a business lunch, then perhaps stick to a salad you'd eat with cutlery… otherwise you might give the wrong impression. Or not…
We also selected fish tacos from the starters menu ($7 each) and they were so very very good. I know everyone does fish tacos at the moment, and the whole share-plate-southern-food is very current and trendy, but who cares if it's hipster if it still tastes delicious. It may have been the chipotle mayo which made an appearance again, but I'd happily order a bunch of these: they were spot on.
I really wanted to try the dirty rice ($12) and not just because of its name. This was a great dish with black beans, chorizo, corn and guacamole and we scraped the plate clean. My non-pork friend did ask for the chorizo to be kept on the side, but as it was pre-made, it came mixed throughout the dish. She simply made a little pile of sausage on her plate and ate the rest happily.
There are four burgers on the menu if you're eating alone or don't like sharing, including a fried tempeh burger (with guacamole, pickled mushrooms, red slaw and miso aioli $19), a classic beef burger, a crunchy snapper burger, and a very of-the-moment pulled pork Subidoo burger with jalapeno kraut, avocado and mustard aioli (all $19).
The drinks menu is about three times as long as the dinner menu and offered a range of wines by the glass and bottle, beers, spirits and even cocktails.
Best of all are the great smoothies and juices they offer ($8/$7). You can choose your base for the smoothie (soy, rice or dairy milk) and then one of five great flavour combinations including a banana chai; coffee, banana and cinnamon; mixed berries; and a creamy tropical blend.
The dessert menu is separate and had about five choices. I can't recall the other options but we chose to share the salted caramel tart, which was super rich and decadent and came with an entire tea cup full of whipped cream. What a revelation – finally a restaurant which doesn't skimp on the cream.
Service was friendly, and any patchiness was due to new staff being trained, so I can't really fault that. They didn't seem to mind that we were too busy chatting to actually read the menu, meaning they had to come back three times before we ready to order.
I do wish they would 'doo' something a bit more with the interior though, as it's very bland at the moment, and all the indoor plants bring back memories of my post-Year-12 ball at The Oriel. But maybe it's meant to remind us of what went before. It's very nice, but it could be funked up considerably to match the hip menu.
Daggy décor and name aside, the Subidoo is like having a cool little Northbridge bar in the heart of Subiaco. I doo really like it.
Sadly for a cafe with a doggy name the owners are "dead against" dogs. Staff told us they had a strict policy.
So us 2000 dog owners in Subiaco are excluded from trying their food and atmosphere.
No-one was eating food on the open veranda at the time so I don't think we would have been breaking health rules.
An alternative might be for them to attach benches to the outside wall with a similarly attached small table for our drink and a ring to tie our dog lead too. Outdoor areas bring an open happy feel and would benefit Subidoo's business as well as welcome us. Dogs of Subiaco