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)

Beans!!!

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
Website: http://www.nakedfig.com.au/
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

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark @ Cafe Campana March 5, 2010 at 3:13 am

I like how they have deviated from the regular breakfast fare. I think the vegan meal with some poached eggs added would be great.

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Evelyne @ CheapEthnicEatz March 5, 2010 at 3:14 am

Why yes, that IS a fig in my picket! Gee expensive…18$ for breaky! But looks good though

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Emma @CakeMistress March 5, 2010 at 6:29 am

Those beans do look mighty tasty, as does the fresh juice. Sad I haven’t tried many breakfast places in Perth (except Tarts. Ix-nay on the kaboom-ay). Although I think you’re onto a new concept should you open a cafe: one with an, erm, view :)

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Hannah March 5, 2010 at 9:54 am

Gosh, I have such a soft spot for rye bread after living off it in Germany last week! Love the look of both breakfasts, particularly the “seasoned red beans” – much more intriguing than the average breakfast baked beans!

I also just love that you ordered a vegan breakfast with smoked salmon. That’s my kind of order :)

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Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite March 5, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Conor: I love that you used the words porridge and capsicum in this post. I miss that.

Can you please move to Toronto?

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Pam March 5, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Another great review. The beans are making me drool.

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Food lover March 5, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Interesting green smoothie; wonder what the ‘greens’ were?

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5 Star Foodie March 5, 2010 at 8:15 pm

The beans and the pumpkin bread sound so good for breakfast, yum!

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Karen Harris March 5, 2010 at 9:55 pm

I love having breakfast out because I don’t like cooking it much, but your friend’s “goopy mushy goodness” makes me want to fire up my skillet.

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Renee March 6, 2010 at 5:56 am

You;re brekky looked pretty fab! Not sure what it was about The Naked Fig but we just didn’t dig it! Have you been to the Little Pantry in Subi? I think its next on our hit list!

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Conor @ HoldtheBeef March 6, 2010 at 6:08 am

Mark @ Cafe Campana – yeah it is good to see more than just the standards. I was tossing up between adding poached eggs and smoked salmon actually, and the salmon won out :)

Evelyne @ CheapEthnicEatz – I knew it! Yeah, that’s pretty normal price round here, sadly enough (though we don’t add tax or tip to that)

Emma @CakeMistress – Oh Tarts, I’m too scared to go back in case I have the same effect on them I apparently did last time. Hehe, indeed.

Hannah – Yes, a good rye is a glorious thing. This wasn’t AMAZING but it was pretty damn tasty. Smoked salmon is my weakness :D

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite – haha, I should have said something about wearing my ‘bathers’ to the beach as well ;) Ummmmmmmm, gimme another year or so and I actually might do just that! After convincing me to join Twitter, who knows what else you can get me to do :)

Pam – Thank you! They were good!

Food lover – I am guessing it was spinach but yes, ‘greens’ is a bit of an ambiguous word.

Karen Harris – Yes, I always order things that I couldn’t be bothered making myself at home. Fire it up!

Renee – Yes we seem to have been lucky! I agree that the vibe was terribly western suburbs family-ish, which isn’t my bag, but we did enjoy the food and drinks. And the view. Ahhh, funny you should mention Little Pantry… I went there to try the brekky last week only to discover the only options were a savoury muffin or plain croissant or ham & cheese croissant. We left and went to Subi Hotel and had atrocious service and mediocre food.

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Trissa March 6, 2010 at 10:57 am

I’ve never been a big beans for breakfast fan but must say that looks delicious!

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penny aka jeroxie March 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm

The ‘vegie’ and salmon looks tempting to me. And good on you for going to the gym first. Can chuck in more food after!

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Trisha March 6, 2010 at 1:51 pm

That is indeed a very green smoothie! And I always love my coffee just right – sounds like they take their coffee seriously!

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pierre March 6, 2010 at 4:35 pm

hi conor it looks like it is still hot in Perth you are so lucky our winter does not end !! it’s horrible !! Pierre

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Conor @ HoldtheBeef March 7, 2010 at 3:52 am

Trissa – beans beans, they’re good for the heart….. ;)

penny aka jeroxie – yes, that’s my cunning plan! The harder I work, the more I can gorge.

Trisha – Mmmmmmmmmmmm chlorophyll :) Yes I’m glad the coffee was actually decent after reading their little spiel about it – always doubly disappointing when a place talks something up and then fails to deliver.

pierre – hello! Yes, still hot here but not so unbearably hot these days. It is actually now possible to get to sleep at night, which is nice. I hope you get some spring warmth soon!!

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The Perth Breakfast Bitch March 7, 2010 at 4:56 am

Love the review…. That banana and greens smoothie looks interesting! Looking at the roast pumpkin on the Vegan is making my mouth water but it’s disappointing to read that it wasn’t nice and sweet like.. yeah.. roast pumpkin!

I laughed when I read about trying to find someone when you want to pay and the nude beach escape. GREAT mental images. I also hate when you can’t find someone to help you at the counter!

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Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella March 7, 2010 at 9:31 am

I am a big website menu checker too-it’s an important decision what one eats! :P Agreed, it’s annoying when you want to go and it’s hard to pay.

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rund March 7, 2010 at 10:58 am

Hi Conor, we had problems finding the front door too! Funnily enough, Renée & i tried The Pantry Door, only to be told that “breakfast was finished”, but we could get anything on display at the counter (i.e. savoury muffins)! Are these cafés related?

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boroca March 7, 2010 at 11:29 am

Those mushrooms do look absolutely fab!

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Conor @ HoldtheBeef March 7, 2010 at 3:40 pm

The Perth Breakfast Bitch – thanks! Yeah I was excited at the prospect of the pumpkin but sadly let down by the reality :( haha, I’ll have to give my idea a try and report back!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella – Indeed it is! Better to be armed with information I think, particularly if you are trying to be “good” for whatever reason ;)

rund – hello! Glad we weren’t the only ones. You always feel like a bit of an idiot when you can’t figure out how to get in somewhere (especially if there are people inside watching your attempts). How funny about the similar pantry experience! Not sure if they are related but I suspect Mother Hubbard may have a hand in the both of them.

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Julia @Mélanger March 7, 2010 at 9:25 pm

I really do love a great breakfast. One of the best things about a weekend is going out for a lazy, and delicious start to the day. This round up looks amazing. Great selection!

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Cakelaw March 7, 2010 at 10:22 pm

The beans look fabulous – I could dig into those right now. (It’s not yet 8.30am – perfect for brekky.)

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Mr. P March 7, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Since you didn’t invite me to your gnocchi party (which I was DEVASTATED about – so much for being an honorary Aussie!), can I please come with you next time you go for breakfast here please?

Thank you.

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Andrea@WellnessNotes March 8, 2010 at 4:18 am

Sounds like a great breakfast place (and the kind that’s hard to find!). Both breakfasts look amazing!

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Ellie (Almost Bourdain) March 8, 2010 at 5:22 am

What a great breakfast place! Intrigued with vegan brekkies!

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Jo - SecondHelping March 8, 2010 at 11:27 pm

I think it would take me half the day to eat brekkie as big as that – but I am certain I would give it a very good try!

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Conor @ HoldtheBeef March 23, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Julia @Mélanger – I couldn’t agree more, though I am quite fond of having a great big breakfast start to my Friday to really get the weekend cranking ;)

Cakelaw – damn tasty, damn tasty

Mr. P – didn’t you say you were busy that day? Yes, I’m sure of it! Something about having to make dragon cookies or something.. err.. anyway, yes you certainly can! Let’s go tomorrow, I’ll wait out the front for you. I’ll wear a red carnation and a hungry expression.

Andrea@WellnessNotes – they were pretty good! Such a great location too, it’s hard to beat.

Ellie – Yes! But then I had to go and ruin it all with that salmon :D

Jo – SecondHelping – You’ll just have to come out for breakfast with me, I’ll be able to give you a hand eating it ;)

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