For six years husband and wife Joel Rees and Danielle Christina de Almeida thrilled eaters via their Brazilian food truck Comida do Sul, and pop-up South American- and Asian-style street-food eatery Coconut Meat. At Madalena’s, in the former South Beach Taco’s site, the couple have made a more permanent home involving a restaurant downstairs and a laid-back bar and events space upstairs.
The atmosphere throughout is modelled after a boteco – a small bar synonymous with neighbourhoods such as Rome, Barcelona and Sao Paulo, the Brazillian city where Rees and de Almeida met. But while Madalena’s is conversant in Portuguese, Italian and Spanish, the bar also has a distinct Australian accent.
Joel’s brother Adam, previously of Ace Pizza and recently returned to Perth after time cooking in Melbourne, has created a menu celebrating local seafood. Since Madalena’s opened in January 2019, customers have hooked into small plates such as freshly shucked Albany rock oysters; venus clams dressed with smoked lardo, nannygai crudo with orange and almond milk; and mirror-dory croquettes.
A past highlight – the Brazillian one-two of picanha (beef rump cap) and farofa (toasted cassava flour) – is a nod to de Almeida’s roots. Elsewhere, straciatella with hazelnuts and stonefruit, and gem lettuce with mint and cucumber are typical of the vegetarian and vegan options you might find here. And when writing menus, the brothers base their decisions on whatever’s freshest from local distributor Fins Seafood.
Although Madalena’s offers beer, vermouth, and Aperol and Campari spritzes, wine is its primary stock-in-trade. Working with North Fremantle wine store Wise Child, team Madalena’s has assembled a list of new-wave and organically-farmed wines and winemakers. Food- and beach-friendly bottlings share cellar space with outre skin-contact wines, with the by-the-glass selection changing daily.