The Humble Onion
After a soft opening in January 2021 for takeaway breakfast only, The Humble Onion was due to open a month later. Then Perth went into lockdown. A couple of weeks and much anticipation later, Chris Howard and Caitlin Johnston (both ex-North Bird) finally opened their cafe for dine-in service.
The St Georges Terrace site (most recently home to 100 Cups by Fiori) is the former digs of influential restaurant Greenhouse, where a young Howard worked as apprentice chef.
His menu is short and sharp – carefully considered but designed for speed and consistency. Everything is made in-house, from the bacon and HP sauce to the bread it’s sandwiched between, reflecting Howard’s sustainable, DIY ethos. If a cafe staple is to be found, it’s done the Humble Onion way – an artfully presented raclette omelette, say, or brioche pain perdu (French toast) with strawberries, peaches and clotted cream.
The bubble-and-squeak with house HP and a fried egg takes a simple dish to new heights. You’ll want the smoked sausage with pickled peppers and fresh polenta when you see it on the next table. And the gluten-free, vegan zucchini bread topped with muhummara (red pepper and walnut puree) and tomato salad is unlike any bruschetta you’ve seen before.
Johnston, a sommelier who also worked with coffee while living in Dublin, oversees the drinks program and front-of-house. Swan Valley roaster Fiori remains the venue’s coffee supplier; there’s also beer, plus wines by the glass, bottle or half-bottle from Jauma, Ngeringa and Tripe Iscariot.
The weekday focus means the venue is well suited for after-hours events, which might range from hot-sauce challenges and kitchen takeovers by eastern-state chefs.