Most are surprised that what they let go by so unregarded and unenjoyed was precisely their life, it was that in expectation of which they lived.
Published June 26th 2011
I watch as my waiter glides across the room as if he were dancing a ballroom solo. It's truly magical to observe. He waltzes around the coffee counter as if it were a competitor on a dance-floor and quicksteps around the barista to grab my flat white. This is my first introduction to Mick, the suave headwaiter at West End Deli, and it's pretty good.
Daily, in the sleepy suburbia of West Perth where winter trees drop skeletal leaves on the asphalt, the scent of freshly baked baguettes can be smelt drifting down Carr Street, having one thinking they might just be in a backstreet of the Latin quarter of Paris.
Seated at the bar section of West End Deli, I observe the layout of this popular local which was in its former life a Greek butchery. A charming rustic bistro it has now become, West End Deli is both an artistic pleasure and a mouth watering dining experience.
It's 11 O'clock and it's already busy. The open plan kitchen is hard at it loaded with orders from a thriving crowd, excited banter and chitchat envelope the air. Disorderly words congregate around the décor of hanging chairs and picture-less frames. This place is good, and the locals know it.
Mick, my coasting waiter has already bought me over a tall of tap water, a coffee, menu and a smile before I have even opened the weekend paper. One glance at the non-prejudiced menu and it's pretty obvious why it is so packed here. Requiring a carnivorous start to the day as I had a man appetite, I skipped over the well-represented breakfast selections and went straight to the main courses. Corned beef hash with fried egg and morcilla crumble ($24), pork belly with pearl barley, calvados apples and crackle ($26) and Rottnest prawns and squid with tomato and salsa verde ($20) are examples of what is on offer. A dedicated selection of side accompaniments include mushroom terrine with blue cheese butter ($8), cauliflower cheese with garlic crust ($8) and celeriac fennel slaw ($8).
Pork belly with pearl barley,calvados apples and crackle
I order the pork belly and a side of cauliflower. The pork arrived set mid deep in a dish that welcomed my morning hunger. The meat was cooked medium, seared and browned. It was topped with finely diced apples and balanced by a thick slab of crackle . The pearl barley was almost jellying like, complimented by a veal reduction and a salsa verde. The crackle was the standout, not too fatty, crispy yet moist and palatable. Compliments to the pig.
The cauliflower side was testament that West End Deli knows its stuff. With the onset of winter comes an abundance of great vegetables, cauliflower being one. My bite- size pieces were cooked al dente, perfect. I was a little sceptical about the garlic crust at first, however the ever-professional Mick assured me it was the ideal side. Of course, he was correct. The homemade béchamel hinted flavours of bay leaf, clove and onion and the garlic crust cemented the deal.
This is food art at its best. Chef owner Justin Peters has created a menu that compliments both seasonal variations and culinary expertise. With a glance at the back storeroom library you can see his influence with great Chef books by authors such as Hester Bloomfield, Marco Pierre White and the naked one. But it isn't pretentious. A Vesper riding local looking a little like a modern day James Dean ,dressed in board shorts and aviators on face zooms in and parks out front. Casually he comes in and says over the consumed crowd " just a couple a bag-etts thanks mate" but Mick's was already onto it. He knows the order and has the French sticks in the cool guys hand in seconds. Reliable service is like good sex, you know it is out there somewhere; it just takes a bit of time to find it. With a quick "cheers for that Micko," the Dean lookalike stuffs his bread into the basket of his bike and zips off into the morning street traffic.
But then tragedy struck. It isn't often this happens to me but when asked if I would like a dessert, my stomach messaged my brain that there was no room left, in disbelief I had to admit defeat, I was full. I had of course previously studied the sweet section that lay out so beautifully on the wooden barn like benches near the kitchen. Lemon tart with crème fresh ($9), apple caramel crumble with vanilla anglaise ($13.50), gluten free fig and almond butterscotch tape ($6.50) and Portuguese tart ($3.50) to name a few. Even the cheese board is a European adventure, Brillat savarin, French triple Brie, beetroot salad and parsley crackers ($14). I went for a takeaway slice instead.
West End Deli is a delight that other Perth bistros should be envious of. The floor staff orchestrates the table rotation without giving the feel that you are to be ushered out. It is confident, friendly and professional. It's a prime example of what happens when all the factors come together in hospitality, friendly service, pleasing ambience and adventurous and great tasting food. And if you want to meet a fantastic waiter who makes the place just as good as the cuisine, get down and check it out.