10 February 2010

Restaurant Review - The Beaufort St Merchant

As the name suggests, the Beaufort St Merchant is located on Beaufort St, Highgate (just before the Mt Lawley cafe strip). Half cafe and half specialty food and wine shop, it features cozy chairs, wooden tables, and a 20% markup. Seriously though - the food is awesome (and the coffee is better!) - but a little overpriced (even by Perth standards).

I went to the Merchant with a few friends for coffee on a lazy Sunday afternoon. My hot chocolate ($6) was delicious - and was clearly inspired by the Max Brenner equivalent (although MB sends it out in a custom designed cup with a tealight to keep it warm and a stirrer cum metal straw to make it easy to drink - and costs $5.50) - but seriously, $6 for a glass of steamed milk and a shotglass of choc buds? Yes, I agree the quality is superior to the crap you get in powder form - but worth double the price of a normal cafe hot chocolate?

The food tells the same story. A single date stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in jambon was $4. Again, it was a complex, intense flavour but was completely overpriced. Paying $9 for 10 chips also felt like a serious ripoff. Once again, they were savory, salty and not quite worth $9.

The Merchant is also renowned for its creme brulee. When I tried to order it a) the staff didn't think they had it (but they actually did), and b) $10 worth of creme brulee apparently fits in a sake cup. Same old story - incredibly yummy - but still a bit of a ripoff.

My friends ordered the special of the day - the Sunday roast. Beef sirloin roasted to a perfect medium, served with a Gorgonzola-potato concoction and honeyed carrots. And a hearty serving at that. Now that I could see the value in. Apparently it was a) delicious, and b) quite good value for $22 (by Perth standards). Certainly not cheap - but you could at least see where your money was going.

All in all - it's a place to go to be seen. There is delicious food available - but not on the cheap. If you have a few bucks to spare, it's a lovely way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Service = 3.5/5. We had to wait for quite a while to get a table - but once we had one, the waiters were knowledgeable (and were prepared to admit when they didn't know something - and were willing to check!) and helpful. Not speedy (but it was a Sunday) but certainly good by Perth standards.

Ambiance = 4.5/5. It's the kind of place you don't want to leave. Absolutely lovely inside. Rustic wooden tables and a hodge podge of chairs, sofas and lounges.

Value = 1.5/5. Apart from their specials, it's monstrously expensive for what you're getting. They are trying to charge restaurant prices in something that seems like a cafe or deli. It all feels a bit much.

Taste = 4/5. What they do, they do well. Although my chips weren't properly cooked all the way through, and I wasn't given enough choc buds to make my hot chocolate properly chocolatey, my date was delicious, and the Sunday roasts were divine.

Overall = 13.5/5. Definitely worth a visit - after payday. The specials menu is your best bet.