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I love that feeling of pleasant surprise that pops up now and then with life’s little serendipitous moments…which is exactly what happened this weekend when my brunch buddies and I turned up at popular walk-ins only breakfast spot Mary St Bakery in Highgate. We were told it would be a roughly 1/2 hour wait, but judging by the small mob already waiting ahead of us, this seemed like an overly optimistic estimate. So what to do when you’re already starving after having just completed a 1 hour Zumba workout on no breakfast? Why, go foraging across the road, of course!
Even walking up to Beaufort St Merchant, I knew we were onto a winner, and in my mind, was already preparing to sway my companions towards a last minute change in venue. It was the delicious and refreshing cocktail descriptions that reeled me in, cleverly advertised on crates that had been repurposed with chalkboard paint.
Luckily for me, no lengthy verbal justifications were necessary as the tempting homely display of cakes ingeniously placed right at the front door convinced my friends that this was a more than worthy alternative.
That, and the fact that we were seated virtually immediately upon arrival.
I was a bit taken aback at first by the brusqueness of the waitstaff as they jostled around us to deliver the last breakast orders of the day. No sooner were we seated before a waitress turned up at our table, demanding to take our orders before they closed the breakfast service. However, all was forgiven once I’d made my 5 second decision and had a chance to take in my cute and quirky surroundings, complete with frantic waitstaff darting about. It was clear that the staff are genuinely committed to efficient service, and this is always a good thing in my books.
My long macchiato ($4.70) and A’s latte ($4.20) arrived shortly after, and both were met with instant approval. The coffee flavour was robust without acridity or acidity, just the way I like it. I also always appreciate a bit of coffee art, and mine came with a heart on top, whilst the latte was finished with a leaf.
So, what does an omnomnivore order when there are only 5 seconds to choose? The buzz words when it comes to food for me include things like “pork belly”, “ribs”, “eggs”, “peanut butter”, “salted caramel”, “green tea”, “lime”, “ice-cream”, and who could forget “truffles” (both varieties) and “foie gras”? I’m sure you’ve seen these words mentioned once or twice before on this blog. On this day, it was “onion rings” that did it. Served with a burger ($24) on the side, and an extra side order of smashed avocado ($4.50).
This was a darned good choice, even if I do say so myself. The beef patty was full of flavour and had a firm meaty bite to it without being overly greasy. Similarly, the bacon was of excellent quality with very little rind. The egg was cooked to perfection with the yolk still satisfyingly precariously wobbly and gooey. The gherkins were roughly chopped to add a slight crunch and acidity. The brioche bun was toasted and crisp yet still soft and fluffy in the centre. And the onion rings were finely sliced for that perfect onion to batter ratio, and lightly spiced for a well balanced sweet yet zingy flavour. Best of all, like the beef patty, they weren’t overwhelmingly greasy. I enjoyed every last mouthful without feeling overly stuffed at the end.
O ordered 2 poached eggs on toast ($12) with an additional side order of smashed avocado. Gluten free does not attract a surcharge at Beaufort St Merchant, which is a nice touch. Although not as glossy as other poached eggs we’ve sampled recently, the yolks were still delightfully runny. The avocado was well seasoned, having just the right balance of saltiness and tanginess, as well as also achieving that rustic textural balance I favour in smashes and mashes that haven’t been pulverised to oblivion, resulting in a gratifyingly creamy yet chunky consistency.
A decided on the wild mushrooms and spinach with egg ($20), again with an additional side order of smashed avocado. The dish was tasty with a generous portion of mushrooms, though perhaps on the expensive side considering what you can get by just spending $4 more and ordering the burger.
Feeling incredibly satisfied by our brunch choices and intrigued by the cake display, we decided to stay a little longer for dessert, and what a great decision that was! A ordered the lemon and ricotta slice whilst I predictably went for the chocolate peanut butter cupcake ($7 each). Beaufort St Merchant gets top marks for presentation as both were served adorably on a mini paddle board with a small jar of cream on the side.
Beaufort St Merchant’s interpretation of the mojito is a refreshing blend of lychee and lime topped with a generous serve of strawberry sorbet. The champagne spider is essentially bubbles poured over a housemade peach and Pimms sorbet. The flavour combinations are nothing short of inspired, and these cocktails are every bit as delicious as they sound, I can assure you!
Efficiency is definitely the order of business here. We were seated not long after we got to the front of the queue, orders taken soon after, and both drinks and food delivered quickly enough to satisfy even the most ravenous of appetites.
A small mistake was made in that the gluten free toast was served with A’s mushroom order instead of O’s poached eggs. However, our waitress realised her mistake as soon as she set the plates down. We felt ever so slightly miffed as this realisation did not come with an apology. Instead, our waitress scurried off without a word. A few minutes later, she returned with an extra serve of gluten free toast (and an apology) for O, whilst A ended up with both gluten free AND gluten laden toast since her spinach and mushrooms had already been served all over the gluten free option.
In the end, we just put the mistake and the intermittently terse moments down to the fact that they were frantically trying to wrap up the breakfast service as they segued into lunch. Once the breakfast crowd had cleared, the atmosphere was instantly more relaxed and the staff much more helpful and friendly, taking the time out to describe their pick of the desserts and cocktails on offer.
If it’s that effortlessly thrown-together rustic charm you’re after, look no further. Beaufort St Merchant stays true to their name with their assortment of knick knacks and antiques coming together to create a space that is reminiscent of ye olde general merchant store. Here, you’ll find lights suspended from old wooden doors mounted on ceilings, condiments served in cute mini jam jars, apothecary style storage cupboards, mini paddle boards galore, old chests, crates and letter presses. It’s kooky and it’s quirky, and it warms the very depths of my vintage loving heart.
Most items are fairly standard for Perth, with some of the cocktails priced at $17.50 and the cupcakes priced at $7 for a rather small serve being slightly on the expensive side.
Last breakfast orders by 11.30am
Lunch menu from 12pm
488 Beaufort St, Highgate, Perth, Western Australia
(08) 9328 6299
There’s street parking on the side streets leading off Beaufort St, but be sure to check the signs as I hear the parking inspectors in this area are merciless!
The morning after:
Having had success all around with our orders, I simply could not resist ordering a slice of the pumpkin and sultana bread ($4.50) to take away for breakfast the next day. The picture sums it up, really.
Light and fruity cocktails topped with sorbet? Genius! Add to that the eclectic interiors, the efficient service, delicious food, delectable cakes, great coffee and tasty morsels to take home for later. Yup, it’s official. Congratulations, Beaufort St Merchant – you’ve won me over. See you again this summer!
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