Saturday, November 17, 2012

little stove, bicton

103 Harris Street, Bicton, WA

beans : house blend 100% Arabica dark roast, or Turkish stovetop with saffron & cardamon
leaf : loose or herbal $4.00 pot
soy : yes, extra charge
caffeine free : fresh juice
dunk : melting moments
fork : gluten free chocolate & orange cake
spoon : breakfast trifle of granola, berry compote & yoghurt $9
knife : homemade crumpet with stewed rhubarb, ricotta & honey $15
plate & bowl : roast pumpkin salad with red capsicum, sundried tomatoes, feta, pinenuts, “boozy” dates, spinach & rocket $20

footprint : volleys or sandals
latte price : $5.50
service : casual, friendly, acknowledge regulars
open : 7 days, 7.00am to 5.00pm

buzz : Deep in the southern suburbs, Little Stove is an outlier on my usual Freo area radar, and it was through a friend living in the area that I was introduced to this suburban gem. It is handy to the Sunday Melville markets, not far from the river, and well within the leafy boundary west of the freeway.  It boasts easy parking, quiet streets, and the feeling that you would get a friendly hello from your neighbour when you strolled by with the paper.

The clientele has a local flavour and the community has embraced the transformation of this former corner store into a meeting place for mums with bubs, retirees, and friends that want to catch up without having to head into town. The cafe is dog and kid friendly, with room to swing a pram, and water provided for Fido. 

Little Stove have done an admirable job transforming the basic interior into a homely and bright space, decorated with mismatched op-shop finds, memorabilia and giftware. A fireplace provides a warm glow in winter, the air-con is on for summer, and all year round natural light floods in through expansive windows. It was a giggle seeing Scrabble and World Book Encyclopaedias embraced as worthy display items, and the LP record placemats are up-cycling at its best.

The coffee is consistently good - as it should be for $5.50 (with soy). They offer a “text and take away service” that I believe is handy for time-poor individuals. A wide range of teas and herbal tisanes are displayed on the hand written blackboard, and the standard fat cakes call from the fridge. The plump melting moments with fresh cream looked divine, sitting demure as a bride under their fly veil.  

Meals are presented with a casual hand, filling the plate diner style with little attention to detail. There are vegetarian options that could possibly be veganized, but it makes for an expensive salad sans feta. I didn’t order food, and while my girlfriend had a vegetable fritter, I was too busy bouncing a baby to take notes. 

Little Stove is a dependable friend if you are in the area, or looking for an outing south of the river.

Little Stove on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 15, 2012

espress coffee house, kuta, bali

Jalan Dewi Sri, 101, Kuta, Bali

You wouldn't happen upon Espress as a casual visitor to Bali. It is away from the cafe hubs of Seminyak and Legian, on a wide artery road joining Sunset to Kuta Galleria and Ace Hardware. In other words, the ugly ass end of Legian. Its customer base is expats who are grateful for the location as they can avoid the mayhem of Jalan Oberoi, or the hell that is Kuta, and be sure of a carpark right out front.  It is convenient and quiet, and the wall mounted iPads are a genius move for entertaining the kids while mum and dad focus on more important matters, like coffee. I was introduced to Espress by expat friends with three kids, and they will no doubt agree with me. 

Starting with a Sumatran Arabica bean, a good espresso is extracted from their small machine. An espresso is only 10,000 Rp ($1), while a latte is more than double the price (22,000 Rp - $2.20). They didn't have soya milk when I visited, so I opted for a green leaf tea served in a heavy cast iron Japanese tea pot (22,000 Rp).  The food menu covers the basics - muesli, bruschetta, panini, toast, crepes and ice-cream - with vegemite on toast getting the rosy smile from one satisfied three year old. 

The small space is restrained and industrial, with a few well chosen fittings and an informal "mood board" of magazine pages and newspaper clippings. A glass of vanilla beans on each table is an interesting centrepiece and only possible where they are grown - this would be a ludicrously expensive stunt in Australia.

Espress is open daily until late, and a worthy stop for coffee if you find yourself away from the Seminyak vortex and fanging for caffeine. 

Thanks to the little models, offspring of the children's wear designer Fliss Dodd, who's adorable collection can be found online at Udder

Monday, November 12, 2012

cabin fever, perth

beans : roasted by Ristretto
leaf : T2 selection, served in a vintage teapot
soy : yes, extra 50c
caffeine free : chocolate Turkish delight milkshake with two scoops of ice-cream

dunk : bite size biscotti
fork : buttermilk pancakes served with fresh fruit, maple syrup & yoghurt or ice-cream
spoon : cabin muesli laden with nuts & fruit, served with yoghurt & honey
knife : toasted homemade banana bread with cinnamon & walnuts
plate & bowl : traditional New York style bagel topped with grilled pumpkin, eggplant, cream cheese, relish & rocket (can be vegan)

footprint : vintage pumps or peep-toe flats
latte price : $3.50
service : warm & sociable
open :  7.00am to 5.00pm Mon to Fri, 10.00am to 5.00pm Sat

buzz : Cabin Fever first came to my attention last year as the runner-up in the Eat, Drink, Perth coffee awards. I rarely make it into the city centre, but on my annual trip to the Indonesian embassy I made a point to detour to the depths of Bon Marche Arcade. This narrow mall has been around since my days of visiting nana in the big smoke, and the collection of vintage and retro furnishings, crockery and silverware evokes nostalgic memories of youth. The styling is so reminiscent of her lounge room that I wondered if she might be hiding behind the counter baking gingernuts. The teacup collection made me weak at the knees, and I strayed from my usual soy latte in order to caress traditional tea paraphernalia. 

Since its conception in 2010, founder Ruth Leigh has established a community from behind the counter. All day relaxation, stimulating conversation, board games and magazines are supported by excellent Ristretto coffee and friendly prices. Their bagels receive rave reviews, with nine combinations of sweet and savoury toppings. Intimate music gigs and monthly craft gatherings extend the love, and the café hosts exhibitions and installations by emerging artists. When was the last time you saw a pom-pom in public? Plus you are within gawking distance of the design goodies next door at Pigeonhole

There is often a rush for pre-work coffee and lunches, so go outside of peak periods to settle into a deep lounge or concentrate on your next chess move.  The space is snug and the atmosphere so personal, that I felt like a voyeur in a hipster’s living room; I even entered into a conversation with a stranger. I may find the coziness a bit stifling on a sunny day, when the lack of windows could induce an eponymous state.

Cabin Fever is proof that you don't have to be big, brash and lit up in neon on the corner to make an impact. A simple menu, and a consistently good brew served with a smile is what cheers one up in the CBD. That, and a kitsch souvenir teaspoon.

Cabin Fever on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 2, 2012

anomali, ubud, bali

The Anomali crew are learning that Ubud and Seminyak are different beasts, and that it may take a while to generate a happening thing in the artistic and yogic heart of Bali. As a roaster that offers single origin beans with tailored extraction methods, they are in direct competition with Seniman Coffee Studio around the corner. The latter is a western owned and run boutique cafe, which gives it an edge with the expats. I prefer Seniman's location and vibe, but for my puny buying power, Anomali wins with their use of unsweetened Aussie Soy.
The Ubud branch offers the same high quality Indonesian beans, experienced staff and industrial style as the Seminyak cafe, but is yet to develop a lived in soul. The main road location would have looked good on paper, however the proximity to the chaotic Hanoman corner means most passers by are focused on negotiating traffic and miss the indistinct shop front. The few seats out the front are marred by noise and pollution and the open plan upstairs area feels vacant and too far from the barista action. My choice is the communal bar downstairs, back from the offensive traffic and within sight of the coffee lab. 

They open early (7am) seven days a week, and extract a smooth, nutty espresso from their house blend. The staff are happy and welcoming, with some of them dividing their time between the two cafes to keep the standards consistent.  Anomali adds another gong to the excellent Ubud cafe scene; I hope they stick around.

Nb. To see the full list of beans on offer, visit the Anomali Seminyak review.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

seniman coffee studio, ubud

roaster, design studio, cafe

beans : espresso blend 90% Sumatran Gayo and 10% Robusta, single origin available
leaf : loose, herbal & black, also make chai
soy : pre-sweetened
caffeine free : extracted juice - coconut water, orange & pineapple
fork : chocolate nut brownie $1
plate & bowl : Balinese tipat cantok (square sticky rice parcel) with blanched spinach, beans sprouts & peanut sauce

footprint : leave your shoes at the door
latte price : Rp20,000 ($2)
service : warm, a bit reserved
open : 7 days, 9.00am to 8.00pm

buzz : Ubud is fast stamping its authority as an artisan coffee destination, and Seniman Coffee Studio is rocking caffeine junkies from around the world.  In the same spirit as Anomali down the road, they source and promote single origin beans from the Indonesian Archipelago, and extract their character by hand using the syphon, pour-over or hand-pulled espresso methods. The baristas, trained by Taiwanese masters, focus on optimizing the flavour potential of particular beans. This process begins with bean selection, roasting on-site, and grinding to order.  

Tempted by their pop-up coffee cart at the writer’s festival, I had delayed my gratification all week to go the mother ship and have a proper sit down experience. Keep in mind, they don't open until 9am, which isn't conducive to early risers craving a heart starter.

The funky design and communal table piled with magazines had me at hello, but my day was ruined by cheap pre-sweetened soya milk. Yes, I hear you scoffing, how dare I risk tainting the pure essence of Arabica with soy; however I am not that evolved as a coffee maven to take my poison long and black.  Coffee is served on a paddle with a glass of water and dainty Balinese sweet. Unique and unexpected.  Single origin orders arrive in a recycled jar, as do the juices.  My mango blender juice was thick and cold, exactly how I like it. 

The menu comes with a flow chart to help you navigate the “architecture of coffee” and offers a succinct list of three breakfast options and six regional lunch dishes. It is good to see a café promoting authentic Indonesian food (including vegetarian). Customers that may be too scared to eat off a street cart can get a taste of hawker style fare in style. 

A low bar extends the length of the engine room and provides a front row seat for the brewing action; close enough to see the dribbles of sweat on the barista’s temples. Ubiquitous plastic chairs have been transformed into groovy rockers, begging you to sway to the chilled playlist.  Co-founder  & designer Rodney Glick claims, “the Bar Rocker engages with us, stimulating imagination, encouraging curiosity and causes us to re-evaluate how we experience the world.”  That is one hell of a chair. 

The gleaming roaster sits in the window of the ground floor retail space, where innovative products from the Seniman Industries design arm are for sale alongside bright packets of coffee. No traditional cream, black and chocolate colour-way here.  Coffee is well known for its effect on creativity, and the boys obviously have an intravenous line direct to the studio.  Their aim is to design things to make you happier; ditch the crap soy and I’ll be laughing. 


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