Is that a fig in your pocket?

March 5, 2010 · 28 comments

While I’ve been busy at home eating my bowls of porridge in front of my computer screen, my list of breakfast places I want to try has been growing longer and longer. On top of the list was Greenhouse, which I managed to tick off in fine fishy fashion on my birthday, and next on the list was The Naked Fig Cafe in Swanbourne.

Since it opened fairly recently, I have heard quite mixed reviews on this place. The real issue seems to lie in the service, with many people reporting it to be inattentive with very lengthy waits, and this is reflected in the Urbanspoon rating which is currently sitting at “50% like it”. I was hoping that this was just a teething problem, and would be sorted by the time I eventually made it down to Swanbourne to sample their wares.

The Naked Fig is run by the same team behind The Wild Fig Cafe which has been a popular Perth breakfast spot for some time, although I am yet to make it up there (too busy eating porridge, apparently). The “fig” part of the name thus is accounted for, and I can only assume the “naked” is in reference to Swanbourne Beach being home to Perth’s unofficial nudist beach. Interestingly, there is also a live rifle range behind the dunes at Swanbourne Beach. Sorry to disappoint any Girls and Guns subscribers, but neither of these aspects can be experienced from the cafe. You can rest assured however that should you eat too much, you can go and work off the calories dodging bullets or simply lie and digest unencumbered by a pesky waistband.

As I recently admitted, I am a restaurant website checker and checked out The Naked Fig Cafe menu online before heading down. I noticed that they have an online reservation system on their website, and although I felt a bit silly using it when I suspected there would be more than enough free tables at 7:30 on a Friday morning, I thought I’d test it out to be able to report to you if it actually worked.

So, after an early morning pump session my friend and I headed down to The Naked Fig. After a little difficulty in figuring out where the entrance was and dodging the resting cyclists, sticking out their lycra-clad bums to get a good stretch on those hamstrings, we were soon inside and greeted very warmly. Our reservation had indeed gone through, and we were taken up to our own seemingly private little section, quite far away from the busy balcony area. We felt a little lonely up there, but multiple small children were in the balcony section so I was happy to be out of ear-splitting, food-flinging range.

After ordering a long black each, we had a good look through the menu. Having already done my online homework, I knew I was either going to have the “vegie” which was “free range eggs (poached, scrambled or fried), roma tomatoes, field mushrooms, baby spinach and goats cheese on olive toast with roasted tomato & capsicum dressing ($18.50) or the “vegan” which was “grilled asparagus, roast pumpkin, roma tomato, field mushroom, fresh baby spinach and seasoned red beans on pumpkin rye toast ($18). I decided that I would prefer the vegie, but then my friend announced that he was going to order that so I changed mine to the vegan (perhaps grumbling a little as I did so). I made up for ordering my second choice by treating myself to the additional of a serve of smoked salmon ($6). My guns needed some additional protein… fishy fishy protein. Mmmmm.

Coffees were soon brought out, and I enjoyed the fair trade brew. As they say on their menu, “the fig serves our coffee at a temperature that releases the optimum flavour of the coffee – if you prefer your coffee extra hot, please let us know when you order” and the coffees were indeed a good temperature and quite smooth.

"vegie" - free range eggs (poached, scrambled or fried), roma tomatoes, field mushrooms, baby spinach and goats cheese on olive toast with roasted tomato and capsicum dressing ($18.50)

Goopy mushy goodness

I admit to feeling a little food envy at my friend’s breakfast, with its massive mushrooms covered in flavoursome “roasted tomato and capsicum dressing”. His eggs were gooey and his reports were favourable.

"vegan" - grilled asparagus, roast pumpkin, roma tomato, field mushroom, fresh baby spinach and seasoned red beans on pumpkin rye toast ($18) with extra smoked salmon ($6)


My food envy was shortlived, as I soon forgot my friend’s mushrooms when I started eating my beans. They were tender and very nicely spiced, imparting a mouth-filling, almost meaty flavour on everything they touched. This was actually just as well, as I found the roma tomato and pumpkin quite bland. The pumpkin in particular was noticeably lacking in flavour, being devoid of any of the tasty caramelisation I associate with a well roasted root vegetable. I didn’t finish it.

The asparagus and mushrooms were fresh, tasty and well cooked, and the smoked salmon was just how I like it – a decent sized portion. The other star of the plate however, apart from the beans, was the toasted pumpkin rye toast. A nicely dense full-flavoured rye, toasted just enough. The two pats of butter they gave me for the toast was interesting – I wonder if they give them to everyone who orders the vegan breakfast, or only those with obvious omnivorous tendencies.

After finishing our meals we moved to one of the more sheltered tables near the entrance to escape the cool wind, and ordered some more drinks – a traditional long macchiato for me and a Green Smoothie (banana, greens, fresh fruit) for my friend. When our waitress brought my coffee over she had a terribly concerned look on her face, and asked me if the coffee had too much milk for me – sure enough, it was milkier than I like my long macs and she took it away to be replaced with a less milky cousin which I enjoyed.

The Green Smoothie - banana, greens, fresh fruit ($7.80)

My friend’s smoothie was indeed green, and also very fruity in taste – a very refreshing drink that would go down nicely on a warm day. I didn’t quite enjoy the taste as much as the ones I’ve had from Raw Kitchen at the Subi Farmers Market, but I think it was a more refreshing drink due to the inclusion of fresh fruit.

Service throughout our visit was good – from the friendly greeting and prompt delivery of water, to checking if our food was to our liking (just once, and not when we had just taken a big mouthful of food), to pre-empting my unhappiness at the overly milky long mac and ending with happily taking our money.

(I hate it when you are ready to pay and leave a place and can’t get seem to get anyone to help you. It’s difficult enough parting with money, especially with some of the prices around Perth, without having to work hard to get someone to take it off you. Many times I’ve been tempted to do a runner when this has happened, which might not be such a difficult thing to succeed with at the Naked Fig if you were able to get down to the nude beach and strip off before they caught up to you. Alas, I did not get to test this theory.)

Other things of note at the Naked Fig include showers in the toilet areas for people to wash off after walking up from the beach, and live jazz performances every Saturday night from 6:30pm to 9:30pm. We had a look through their lunch and dinner menus while we waited for our drinks, and whilst nothing really blew us away and the prices seem a little steep, both menus offer a decent range of choices with a few interesting dishes, all made with what seems to be quality ingredients.

The Naked Fig Cafe
278 Marine Parade, Swanbourne 6010
Phone: 08 9384 1222
Online bookings: For less than 10 people, greater than 12 hours prior to seating time
Opening Hours: Open at 7am every day; serving breakfast, lunch and dinner every day but closed Monday nights at 5pm from May 1st to Oct 31 and 6pm through summer.

Naked Fig on Urbanspoon