Style with a smile
In a HIP inner-city PERTH neighbourhood, Fleur Bainger samples a SLICK new ALL-DAY DINING joint that proves parenthood and CREATIVE, flavour-driven meals out aren’t mutually EXCLUSIVE.
GLASSES KNOCKED ACROSS the table. Tears when their dish comes out after yours. Food left cold as they rush off without notice. Anyone who’s ever eaten out with – or even near – children will recognise the headaches, and my kids are no different. Yet as someone who loves creatively assembled, flavourdriven food that I don’t have to cook, I persist. Why should I be banished to ‘family-friendly’ venues for two-for-one meal deals, stinky carpets and sticky surfaces? It seems those who live in the hip inner-city ’hood of Leederville feel similarly. The hipsters and creatives have not, post-procreation, disappeared to the ’burbs. They still want to go out, and they want to take their Converse-shod ankle biters.
Servo, a new restaurant tucked at the back of The Leederville Hotel has clocked the gap in the market. When it opened in September in the redeveloped hotel, it declared little people welcome, and proved it not only with a cubbyhouse and ping-pong table, but with the key decider: tolerant service. I’m a fan.
The slick space of polished concrete, Terrazzo stone and glass is accessed via a freshly constructed laneway – how very trendy. Its only catch (or drawcard, depending on your perspective) is that parents dine inside, while kids – between mouthfuls – play in the roomy, parasol-dotted courtyard. In time, it’s hoped Servo food will also be available al fresco.
With diverse menu items like tapioca and riceflour-coated kale crisps tossed in vinegar powder, eggplant dip smothered with fried flatbread shards and nuts, and curly casarecce pasta woven with cherry tomato sugo, dried anchovy and seaweed crumbs, I fear the kids will revolt. I’m wrong; they tentatively taste, then dive right in. They do, however, leave us to savour whipped cod roe and its popping finger lime caviar, as well as spicy, wood-fired peri peri cauliflower and dark fried brussels sprouts in chilli vinegar. The only misstep: the mussel and cured carrot parcels dusted with fennel pollen. The spectacular topping is mired by a base of snap-hard squid ink baguette that tastes, as well as looks (obviously), burnt. Dessert draws the kids back. They attack chocolate wrapped bars of house-made peanut butter ice-cream in the way seagulls swoop on hot chips. With a wine list straddling small-batch rarities and select international stars, and everything reasonably priced, Servo is a trendsetter I’d like to see again.