Forget about raising kids, writing my novel, or saving the planet, sometimes I think my purpose on earth is to find the best breakfast. So when I front up to a restaurant with a chalkboard out the front thanking patrons for voting them as having the 'Best Breakfast in Perth', my stomach stands up and pays attention.
Tarts Cafe, it's plain jane exterior hides all sorts of secrets
Tarts – the café in question – is rated by the 'Good Food Guide 2013' as one of Perth's Top 40 cafes, although this year it hasn't made it into the Top 5 breakfast locations. Doesn't matter, because it has clearly been voted Number 1 by another group of foodies.
Unlike its restrained, miniature namesake, Tarts is a rambling beast from the al fresco seating out the front, to the main room full of jewellery, clothes and gourmet food to buy, and through the curtains to a semi-private 'lounge room' packed with banquettes and cushions.
I can't imagine actually doing any work in here...
Down the hall you find the private 'board room' seating 8-10 people, which you can reserve, past the toilets and old converted kitchen/staff room you find yourself at the top of the stairs looking down into another al fresco area, topped by enormous umbrellas, made colourful by painted wrought iron tables and the occasional pot plant. I didn't see it myself, but apparently there is a very private cellar downstairs that you can request. Perfect for publicity-shy rock stars perhaps. Or if you have particularly badly behaved children maybe.
The breakfast bruschetta... hiding under the greenery is a pile of delicious sweet chorizo
And children (perhaps not the badly behaved ones) are very welcome at Tarts, as are dogs. There was a stack of high chairs available and a basket of toys which my baby enjoyed tossing out of the aforementioned high chair into one of the pot plants. Good times.
We had planned on joining the Tartlets (if that's what the regulars are called) for breakfast, but babies tend to be unpredictable so we arrived at the awkward time of 11am. In lesser places this can upset service staff greatly, as they have put away all their breakfast items but are not ready yet to serve lunch. No worries here, as the breakfast menu runs until midday during the week and until 2pm on weekends.
Brightly painted iron tables and chairs make up the rear al fresco area
The sign had me frazzled though. The best breakfast in Perth: was it a specific dish that had won accolades? Or were they across-the-board brilliant? The menu is comprehensive in its ability to cover all the bases (Eggs? Check. Pancakes? Check. Muesli? Check. Eggs Benedict. Check) and innovative enough to throw in a few curve balls (breakfast trifle, breakfast cocktail).
After significantly less gnashing of teeth than expected, I ordered the breakfast bruschetta ($15.90), because I firmly believe that anything dinner can do, breakfast can do better.
Two large pieces of toasted Ciabatta came smeared with goats cheese and topped with a pile of fresh tomato and red onion.
Under a mountain of rocket was a good sized serving of lightly fried chorizo, seemingly less spicy and more sweet than normal, but perhaps you don't want to start the day being smacked in the face with a tonne of garlic and chilli. I loved it, but it wasn't the type of dish you order if you are trying to impress your companions. Most of my toppings ended up on my lap so I had to deconstruct it and shove bits and pieces in my mouth until all the flavours were accounted for. Tedious but tasty.
Potato head. I firmly believe that vegetables gain superpowers at breakfast time
My friend ordered the rather awesomely named 'potato head' ($17.90). This gluten free dish consists of two poached eggs, a serve of veggies your mum would be proud of (asparagus, spinach and mushrooms), and a lashing of homemade Hollandaise sauce all sitting on top of a really tasty, perfectly salty potato cake. He also ordered a side of bacon from the extra's menu ($4 each) which also includes avocado, smoked salmon, feta, extra eggs and chorizo.
If you are feeling very hungry there is the Grande ($19.90) which gives you bacon, eggs, chorizo, tomato, mushrooms and toast. If you're recovering from a big night, perhaps you'd prefer a smaller dish such as the vegetarian bagel ($13.90) or better yet, the bacon bagel ($13.90).
I was feeling hungry, and by the time we had finished breakfast it was almost lunch time, so I thought I could justify one of their gorgeous cakes from the front case. It was groaning with beautiful looking things, and while I was happy enough with my enormous brownie, I am convinced the other cakes would have been even better.
The lunch menu (12 to 2pm daily) and dinner menu (6pm-9.30pm Tuesday to Friday) look impressive and are available online. Interesting combinations of flavours at moderate prices ($18-$20 for lunch and $22-$34 for dinner) and I can see why it is a favourite with local foodies.
One thing that really stood out was the sheer number of gluten free options that were available across all three menus. If you want to spoil someone who has a restricted diet and they are sick of 'fresh fruit salad with yoghurt', then this is the place to bring them. You can tell a lot of care has been taken to provide the most interesting options.
So you're probably wondering, did I think it was the best breakfast in Perth? It was pretty good and I would certainly go back again. And again. And maybe for lunch and dinner. And perhaps to try those cakes.
But until I eat every breakfast in Perth, I'm not sure if I can answer that question (but I'd definitely rank it in my Top 5).