There was a time when chef Harry Peasnell aspired to cook in high-end kitchens. But after relocating to Melbourne to learn under food impresario Andrew McConnell and his uncles Tom and Sam Peasnell (Dexter, Cheek, Takeaway Pizza), he returned to Perth in late 2019 with a new focus.
“When I wanted to be a fine-dining chef, I always used to joke about opening a casual sandwich place one day as a passion project,” says Peasnell, who's currently cheffing at Si Paradiso. “But then, through the progression of my career, I realised that simple, delicious and affordable food was the type of cooking that resonated with me.”
Later this year Perth will have the chance to see – and taste – what Peasnell is talking about, when he and partner Harriet Roxburgh open Peggy’s in the heritage-listed Imperial Chambers building on Fremantle’s Market Street. Named after the couple’s two-year-old daughter, Peggy’s will be a new-wave, 20-seat sandwich bar in an old-world space complete with exposed bricks, big windows and heavily stained jarrah floorboards.
“We don’t want Peggy’s to be some clean, chic, modern espresso bar that’s standing-room only,” says Peasnell. Maja Sedic and Cale Mason of Lazarus Studios (El Publico, Meat Candy) are driving the look of the space. “We want it to be a bit lived-in and for people to feel like it’s just as much their place as it is ours.”
If the room’s aesthetics don’t draw a crowd, the food likely will. Consisting of six sandwiches that Peasnell describes as “Australian-style”, Peggy’s draft menu manages to be both familiar and novel. The classic chicken schnitzel and iceberg lettuce sandwich, for example, gets a Japanese makeover via yuzu kosho mayonnaise and a togarashi salt. A toasted three-cheese sandwich is perfectly gooey and warming, while the antipasti roll – starring mortadella, salami, cheese and pickled eggplants – is Peasnell’s ode to the continental roll.
Although the core menu will do most of the heavy lifting, rotating specials including porchetta paninis, Cubanos and a house-made homage to the sausage-and-egg McMuffin will be on rotation. Sandwiches will, naturally, be made to order, with a choice of either a classic white high-tin loaf or a seeded sub. On the side? Hot chips, of course.
Good drinking will be another of Peggy’s drawcards. Sam Bennett – formerly of popular Melbourne wine bar Embla and currently also at Si Paradiso – has come on board to look after front-of-house as well as the wine and beer selections. On the softer side of things, coffee will be supplied by Subiaco’s Community Coffee Co, while the offer of Nippy’s iced coffee and chocolate milk chimes with the space’s retro feel.
Peggy’s (35 Market Street, Fremantle) is slated to open by June and will open for breakfast through to lunch daily.