When is an art gallery cafe not an art gallery cafe? When the cafe is Arthouse, the latest venue from serial publican John Parker (you might remember him from such popular inner-city projects as The Standard, Halford and Saint Larry at the State Library).
From afar, Arthouse presents like your garden-variety gallery cafe. Get up close, however, and it reveals a different story. The locally designed pendant lights that look like wooden Star Wars TIE fighters. That giant mirror ball suspended from the roof. The offer of interesting wines and drinks. Most telling, however, is the intricate, decidedly un-art-gallery-cafe cuisine of chef Chase Weber. It’s a marked departure from what was offered during the site’s Caffissimo days.
“We could give you a sandwich, but why don’t you come in and have some nice mushrooms on toast or something?” suggests Weber. “It’s almost the same price as what you’re going to pay for a sandwich, but you’re going to get full table service in a nice relaxed atmosphere.”
After opening as a daytime venture, Arthouse has extended its trading hours and now serves dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. Much of the menu does double-duty between day and night (the chicken liver parfait with rye toasts, for instance, and those great housemade kettle chips) although the evening carte features exclusives such as the fatty pork jowl with a coffee glaze.
Much of the day-to-day cooking falls on the shoulders of head chef Jared Hargreaves, leaving Weber free to develop ideas and comb the state for interesting produce. So far, he's got his hands on some chestnut-finished suckling pigs and 3000-day-old mutton. He's just as happy filling his shopping basket with ingredients from closer to the restaurant though: the leaves used in a salad of spanner crab and citrus are plucked from the Perth Cultural Centre's Urban Orchard. Turning an abandoned statue garden into a herb and vegetable patch remains high on Arthouse's to-do list.
AGWA, Perth Cultural Centre, Roe St, Perth
(08) 9228 3100