One of the new small bars to open up in the Perth area this year, The Cabin Winebar and Bistro was recently awarded the best contemporary bar at the Australian Hotels Association Awards For Excellence (sharing the prize with The George in the city). I was meant to have dinner at The Cabin a few months ago with a group of friends, but that was during my period of perpetual illness and I didn’t quite make it. I did however finally find some time to get there a couple of weeks ago for a relaxing long lunch with a friend on a very warm summer’s day.
The Cabin is located on Scarborough Beach Road in Mount Hawthorn, and after parking my car at the nearby Mezz shopping centre I discovered that they have a carpark out the back. This is good to know, as I really don’t need the temptation of parking anywhere near Liquorice Gourmet Foods (located within the Mezz, and also at Claremont Quarter). It is IMPOSSIBLE to walk within 100 metres of that shop and not somehow find yourself carrying a shopping bag filled with all manner of chocolate coated things.
For want of far better English than I am currently capable, The Cabin is decked out in a decidedly cabinny manner – rustic wooden tables, taxidermy-filled exposed brick walls – but the overall finish is very polished. Although we admired the interior, they were absolutely blasting the air conditioning so we quickly escaped outside and looked for a spot in the shade. Shady spots were actually few and far between, as the black umbrellas you can see in the photograph can’t actually be used due to the wind, but luckily some girls were finishing up at the one shady table so we pounced on that and set up shop for a couple of hours.
The first menu perusal was of the drinks, and there is an excellent selection on offer. I was particularly smitten by a few of the cocktails but decided to have a non boozy lunch, whilst my friend went for a rosé, if my memory is not mistaken. Sadly my memory doesn’t stretch to actually recall which wine it was, but apparently it was nice enough to have a second glass!
Next task was to try and decide on what to eat. The menu is split into two sections – “Small to share” and “Big to share” – although I am sure you could happily eat one of the big dishes, possibly accompanied by the side of a small dish, as a meal for one.
It’s always a little awkward when you go out for a meal with a group you’re not entirely familiar with, and there is that moment of trying to figure out if it will be a sharing meal or not. This is second only to the then-inevitable moments if you do decide to share, when there is only one or two of some things left on plates or if there is not enough for everyone in the first place. My Dad, he whom I inherit my impressive buffet consumption skills from, always brought me and my siblings up to not ever be foolish enough to ask if someone wants the last piece of something if you actually want it. Whilst this tactic works well in my family I tend not to employ it while out with others for fear of my gluttony being all too apparent. I’m sure I’m not kidding anyone however, particularly those who know me well, which is obvious when I eat out with C for instance when she defers all extra food to me.
This day my friend and I were in immediate agreement that it would be a sharing occasion, and we finally settled on two of the small dishes – “Broad bean, garden pears, goats curd” ($14.00), “Amelia Park lamb cutlets, spicy roast pumpkin” ($16.00), and one of the big dishes – “Whole baked Pemberton trout, celery, horseradish, cider” ($30.00).
The beans and peas were obviously fresh, and popped deliciously in your mouth. The goats curd was just sharp enough, and so creamy, and I was happy to discover a surprise addition of some slow roasted onion in there as well. A delicious, fresh dish.
This was one of those dishes that made me sound like an idiot as I kept exclaiming how tasty it was. The lamb was juicy and tender, with a nicely seared finish. The pumpkin was so incredibly rich with flavour I wish I could have just eaten a bowl of it. I also wish my palate were more intelligent so that I could figure out just exactly what the spices were, but I just kept eating it and exclaiming again how tasty it was and not being able to figure anything out except that I liked it and wished I would shut up.
The trout dish was a great mixture of textures. The salad was fresh and crunchy, with an interesting edge provided by the horseradish, whilst the fish was a combination of juicy and soft flesh with a beautifully crunchy skin. We picked out the little tiny cheeks, having one each, before splitting the rest of the fish between us. Mr Trout kept looking at me with his little eyes, but I told myself he had gone to a better place.
After digesting for a while and finishing our drinks, we decided to have another look at the menu. We were momentarily tempted by the “warm chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream” ($14.00), then decided not to get anything else, and then somehow found ourselves ordering more of the small dishes – “Green asparagus, egg chutney, salmon roe” ($12.00) and “Tin of Ortiz anchovies, toast” ($19.00). This friend and I are a terrible influence on each other… one time we went out for a light dinner and ended up doing a three hour degustation. I’m surprised we didn’t end up trying every dish on this menu.
I’m a sucker for salty fishy goodness, and these anchovies hit the spot with the fresh, crisp bread, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of dried chilli. Simple and delicious. Also very expensive, which I somehow didn’t realise at the time but I suspect I may still have ordered it.
I clearly really enjoyed my meal at The Cabin, finding all of the dishes hit the mark in terms of taste, texture and freshness. The only downside that was apparent were the prices, which are a little steep, so if for some reason you have a horde of hungry men to feed I’d recommend first taking them down the road to the Paddo to fill up on beer and wedges before bringing them here.
The Cabin was very quiet when we were there, with only two other tables being occupied, but I’ve been told by friends that it can get incredibly loud inside when it is full of people, so perhaps it’s not the place to go for intimate conversation on a busy night unless your dining partner is a bore and you are in need of distraction. Probably a good place to go if your dining partner is a boar too, they might find a long lost relative hanging on the wall.
Make sure to say goodbye to Mr Owl on the way out..
(I discovered later in the day that I was not actually sitting entirely in the shade during this meal, and ended up with a lovely red patch on my thigh that must have been in the sun while the rest of me wasn’t. I clearly haven’t developed my summer skin yet, but luckily the patch has now disappeared. I need to get my white arse to the beach.)