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After 2 average nights out, my mid week dining buddies and I decided it was time to raise the bar by revisiting a local favourite.
Self styled as a relaxed, casual and family friendly cafe by day, The Precinct in Victoria Park really comes alive when it turns into a restaurant and wine bar at night.
It is clear from the decor that the team at The Precinct take pride in sourcing wine and artisan beers from across the globe for Perth locals to enjoy. The bottles are on display against a minimalist but stylish cream, brown and metallic backdrop.
Just like the drinks on offer, the menu at The Precinct changes regularly, giving locals ample reason to return again and again.
On this occasion, we started our night with the honey and sriracha glazed chicken wings ($15 for 14 pieces), a steal really given their delicious sticky sweetness with a spicy kick. These tasty morsels packed a punchy flavour that really got our appetites going and set the scene for a fantastic night out.
After an initial mishap where the top of one of our soft shell crab sliders ($16 for 2) rolled onto the ground as it was being set down, our waiter returned not long after with a freshly topped serve. The buns were nicely toasted to a crisp finish yet retained a soft and fluffy centre that contrasted nicely with the fried crunch of the soft shell crab filling, the fresh bite of carrot slaw and the subtly sweet creaminess of honey fennel mayo. The flavours were more muted compared to the chicken wings, but every bit as enjoyable due to the richness of textures.
Our main courses came not long after and were every bit as exciting. First to arrive was the pork belly with apple, sweet potato and cider glaze ($39 for 6 large pieces). The pork was perfectly cooked, moist and tender with a crackling that crunched gratifyingly with every chew. Clearly the hero of the dish, the meat was paired with crisp apple slices for freshness, a creamy yet delicate sweet potato puree and a cider glaze that was pleasantly balanced in terms of salt and sweetness, but perhaps could have been slightly stickier in my opinion.
Much bolder in flavours, the Moroccan lamb with couscous and toast ($30) is a rich, hearty and comforting dish for those winter nights or balmy trans-seasonal evenings. Our advice is to reserve the toast for scraping up every last morsel at the end, for if there’s any complaint that we have of this dish, it’s that it doesn’t come with a serving spoon to prevent wasting even one drop of this delicious stew.
The quinoa, beetroot, pumpkin, blue cheese yoghurt and radish ($26) was selected as an accompaniment. Again, a serving spoon would have been nice, but this didn’t stop us from scraping the bottom of the plate to ensure that every last bit of this dish ended up in our bellies, where it belonged. Although not a fan of blue cheese on its own, I found the blue cheese yoghurt subtle enough in flavour to allow me to enjoy its saltiness which complemented the earthy sweetness of roasted beetroot and pumpkin.
For good measure, we also ordered the sweet corn and edamame ($12). I enjoy dishes that balance sweet, sour, savoury and spicy, and this very appetising dish certainly does this, with the subtle char to the corn kernels and the wilted spinach adding that touch of umami.
To wash it all down, I ordered the Vicmopolitan ($16.50, in the foreground), a refreshingly easy to down blend of vodka, watermelon, lime and marmalade. Just as enjoyable and equally refreshing is The Precinct’s take on the classic Aperol spritz ($16.50).
To finish, we couldn’t go past the deconstructed cornetto ($12). The waffle cone was delightfully crisp and perfect for scooping up the ice-cream, rich chocolate mousse, caramel popcorn and crushed berries. The only thing that we felt jarred with the rest of the dish were the persimmon slices, which seemed to add one too many flavours. Strawberry slices would have been a more suitable and equally visually appealing accompaniment, we thought.
We also ordered the strawberry pavlova ($12), which was served with a tangy raspberry coulis and barely there pistachio soil. The meringue had a nice, slightly sticky, slightly spongy texture, but there wasn’t enough of the crispy shell or the sweetness and acidity of the accompanying fruits for my liking. Though it wasn’t bad, this was the least impressive dish of the evening in my opinion, and the best meringue dish I’ve ever tasted is still the Eton mess that emerged from the kitchen of one of my many talented friends.
You can expect that typically Perth combination of friendly, laidback and slightly cheeky staff offering efficient and attentive service, checking in at regular intervals to ensure your evening is going as well as you’d like. We arrived at 7pm on a Thursday evening, and were promptly seated, with menus appearing not long after. We never felt rushed, but were out by 9pm, perfect for a night time pick-me-up in the middle of a working week.
The space is large enough to seat a sizeable number of patrons with adequate space between tables for privacy. A nice touch is the noise absorbing foam mounted onto the walls so that each table can enjoy their conversations without having to raise their voices. The decor is minimalistic and has that effortlessly put together modern look that makes use of everyday objects like passata jars for table water and paint tins for transporting cutlery.
Apart from the pork belly which was on the pricier side, we thought all of the dishes were very reasonably priced. We had ordered similar dishes the week before at Decanter, and every equivalent dish at The Precinct was more delicious yet more affordably priced.
Mon-Fri 9am-late (kitchen open 11am-10pm)
Sat 8am-late (kitchen open 12-10.30pm)
Sun 8am-10pm (kitchen open 12-9.30pm)
Weekend breakfasts 8-11.30am
834 Albany Hwy, East Victoria Park, Perth, Western Australia
(08) 9355 2880
There’s plenty of street parking in the vicinity and at the Coles/The Park Centre carpark across the road.
Like a well-aged vintage wine, The Precinct just keeps getting better and better. We’ve been here several times since they first opened their doors in 2012, and every meal has satisfied more than the last, cementing their status as one of our local favourites and go-to places when we want to be assured of a great night out.
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