From July 2016 Witch's Cauldron will no longer be serving breakfast.
Some people call The Witch's Cauldron an institution and landmark. They call themselves that at least, and it's true that it has been around for over 40 years in the heart of Subiaco.
Spanning a block from Rokeby Road to Rowland Street, the Cauldron is a labyrinth of etched glass panelling, padded booths, tables, and mezzanines. Its décor incorporates life sized witches suspended from the ceiling on a broom, dusty fabric flowers, crisp white linen serviettes and a whole wall covered with its many awards including a number of Gold Plates. I think it's fair to say the décor hasn't changed much in the past two decades or more.
Personally, I only go to the Witches Cauldron for breakfast, as I usually find the menu to be varied, the food decent, and the serving sizes extremely generous. Lately though I have found the food to be uninspired and the prices bordering on exorbitant. They are in danger of losing my vote as one of Perth's best breakfast destinations.
First, the positives. The homemade mint lemonade, priced on the menu for $4.80 is routinely given to breakfast goers on arrival. It's complimentary. How often do you get anything for free these days? It's a rare event, especially for something which is inevitably the highlight of the meal. It's refreshing and minty and tart and sweet all at the same time, and will have you swizzling your straw around the glass while you peruse the menu. Dare I say this lemonade makes the entire venture worthwhile?
The breakfast menu also has some pretty interesting options all of which I have tried over the years. Out of the box options include savoury mince with poached eggs ($15.20), which is an enormous meal suitable for dinner. My advice is to ask for a bottle of tomato ketchup. The brioche French toast with pockets of apple, served with maple syrup and fresh berries ($16.50) is a ripper. Eggs Benedict ($18.40) with ham is far more generous in size than many of its contemporaries.
The service is friendly and prompt, and there is no waiting ten minutes for a coffee. With so many rooms and corners, it is easy to find a quiet corner or a large table to suit your tastes. They have been very accommodating of children in the past, although known to serve up a piping hot 'babycino' to a toddler and their habit of setting the tables for lunch service by 9am, means you have to be careful of little ones knocking over wine glasses.
But there are also negatives. Today we ordered a full breakfast, which at $23.50 should be exceptional. It's not. It's huge and we couldn't finish it, but it lacked a decent chutney, curious bread or tantalising 'extra' which would lift it out of the ordinary. It came with two pieces of toast (or possibly bread, as it was hard to tell after it had been sitting under the pile of eggs and gone soggy), a huge pile of scrambled eggs (my guess would have been about 5), two small sausages, pile of bacon, fresh spinach, five large grilled mushrooms, half a tomato and a potato cake. You can't fault it for generosity, but the sausages were hard, the bacon super crispy and the mushrooms grilled for so long they had the consistency of those you would get out of a tin. The potato cake is tasty enough but the crumbed crust is so thick you wonder if it is homemade or simply shipped in.
We also ordered the ham, cheese and tomato omelette ($16.40), a protein-fest if there ever was one. The size of a dinner plate and a good inch and a half thick, it is filled with sliced ham, diced tomato and still-melty cheese. It is filling to say the least.
The prices for a breakfast menu are quite hefty, but this is in part offset by the huge serving sizes.
I think in order to stay around for another 40 years, the Witches Cauldron might need to look to its menu or prices in order to stay relevant.