Thursday, 19 February 2009

Ut Si's cafe in Perth

Following my meeting at Zep’s, and being in the vicinity of Ut Si’s new café in her converted church in the main street of Perth, provided me with the perfect opportunity to sample some first rate Ut Si wares.

She is now well and truly open and trading, as opposed to last time I visited, which coincided with her first “soft opening” day. The place now has that ‘lived in’ feel about it and Ut Si (Colette) herself moves around the room with deft professionalism.

The seating arrangements comprise, predominantly, one long bench table which runs right down the left side of the restaurant, with its bench seating. I’m interested in that style of people placement. It can be positive or negative, depending on who you are and how you feel about life. For myself, I have no problem with it.

The former church conversion has been very well executed leaving it feeling like a comfortable and familiar place to relax in. Yesterday, the only staff on were Ut Si and her chef son Julian, who previously worked at Fee and Me and Stillwater in Launceston. Obviously Julian has great credentials and this shows through in a variety of different ways in the small-ish menu they have.

I ordered one of the day’s specials: Warmed salad of roasted baby beets/micro-leaves and Tongola goats cheese with elderberry/olive oil drizzle ($9.50). This sounds pretty straightforward but the various tastes and flavours which assailed my taste buds as I ate it were stunning. It was a masterful and subtle dish.

I also had their Risotto of the Moment ($13) which yesterday was a Honey brown mushroom risotto – and equally delicious.

Colette is fixated on coffee too – the provenance, the roasting, the grinding, the preparation. If you want a decent coffee – she’s your ‘man’!

I applaud their minimalist menu. It’s a small-ish venue, operating with minimum staff, for obvious reasons. In order to be able to give it your best shot, and create and maintain your credibility you need to keep things manageable – and that’s what they’ve done there. Well done Colette, Alex, Julian and staff. You’ve created a stylish little haven for food passionistas. May you live on and prosper! (And have a great holiday in Vietnam!)

Posted on by Rita


sir grumpy said...

Why can't we have a nice place like Ut Si's at Kingston, Rita? It's not fair.
By the way, today's Times Online from London has a piece on the ``front page'' called A Trade That Has Cooked Its Own Goose''.
I think you'll find it a fascinating read.

Rita said...

You're right, Sir G - I DID find it an interesting read! Maybe some of our restaurant/cafe owners might want to check it out as well.
Looks like, if we follow the British trend, we'll be up for many portions of Fish and Chips, and Roast meals, and leave off the foam please!
Thanks Sir G.

Anonymous said...

fascinating if you like sensationalism. it's incoherent ranting which tries to touch on a valid subject. the interesting part is it's an article that's totally unique to great britain. with such a vacuum of decent, varied eateries it's a wonder the author has only woken up to something that has been around for quite a while.

steve said...

The cafe looks lovely Colette & I'm very happy you are doing well.
Thanks Sir G for that link to the article.
I came away from it with similar sentiments to anon.
I tried to ignore the contempt that its author has for restaurateurs & the apparent glee that he had trouble hiding as many of these places possibly face going to the wall. The 'I told you so' attitude left a bitter taste in my mouth, it was verging on being vengeful in its opinion.

Having said all that, there were elements of truth in it, particularly the point of an oversupply of these places despite the looming squeeze on the discretionry dollar worldwide. I'm sure that restaurants would not be the only type of businesses that can fail to adequatly check their intended markets.

It has been well reported that the fast food chains are enjoying record ptofits as a result of this But I think that this is a real shame, not that one business iis doing better tghan another, but the fact that people still cannot see that cheap food alternatives dont always have to be of the high salt-fat-sugar kind of takewaway.

The other point that I find hard to swallow is his notion of 'all we want is a trattoria' to stagger home from. That food is not the most important reason why we eat out & too many chefs lose sight of this.
These are all valid point to him. It might suggest that views with suspicion the craft of food & the notion that it might sometimes, not always be about expression in the kitchen.
True, most food is is not about this but without the innovators in life where would all the great leaps & bounds be taken. It would be a very monotonous culinary landscape if we were all to stick to just what we know all the time just because it works.

I think this journo is drawing a very long bow to suggest that these restaurants are going bust because they have dared to put stuff on the menu & charge accordingly, that most punters dont understand.

To me, he is saying if they kept it all simple & recognizable they'd be right.


The chef he mentioned whom is facing a fiscal crisis, Anthony Worrel Thompson, has for years been involved with eateries of the lower middling, places that do a very healthy trade in tried & trusted dishes. He's suffering doing exactly the type of food that this person says we should all be doing.

The intricacies & mysteries of why one plavce succeeds over another have been pondered since the first doors were opened to serve food.
We all have our favourites & theories but to this day not one single person has come up with that elusive ingredient that garauntees success.

sir grumpy said...

I think anon and Steve are on the money. Steve knows that in Britain they either seem to have top end or bottom.
Excepting London. get outside of London and it can be quite scary unless you opt for curry or fish and chips. These are fine but NOT all the time.
There is a dearth of the small cafe place we enjoy so much in Oz.
Me and the missus had lunch at the Smith Street Store today and it was hard to imagine that place in the back-drags of Liverpool or Birmingham, Glasgow etc.
It was a simple meal, toasted croissants (ham and cheese) a good cuppa black for me, green tea (leaves not bags) for the missus.
I had a nice little cake and the missus LOVED her muesli cake.
The girls were pleasant and fun and it was just nice.
My last visit to the UK found me in places that looked fine from the outside but inside were serving the usual greasy pies, soggy veg and caterer pack cakes. Cheap white bread and MARGE.
One of the anons will have a go at me for this...but I have to say the pricers were bloody steep.
The better places we tried had some awful service too. But that piece newspaper was a fascinating read nonetheless and a reminder that we have to steer clear of the Top END/BOTTOM END trap.
I also had a nice little feed at the regenerating Oyster Cove Hotel a couple of weeks ago. There were seven of us and not a complaint about the grub, the welcome or the service. And Stella on tap too.
Good on you guys.

Anonymous said...

I have to say its a great little cafe. Great ambiance and the food was to die for. Kep up the good work.
satisfied customer