Take a former auto electrics workshop on a quiet street in West Perth. Unleash an eclectic mix of industrial meets op-shop chic furnishings. Add a dash of freshly roasted coffee and a generous mix of breakfast classics with a few twists.
Gordon St Garage, brought to you by the men behind Balthazar (Nic Trimboli), Il Lido (Daniel Goodsell) and Duende (Graham Arthur), looks set to turn Gordon street into a destination for food lovers in West Perth.
Glass cloche-covered plates of baked goods are a welcome sight as you enter this airy former workshop. As I hear yet another rumble from my belly, I find myself thinking that this isn’t like any garage I’ve ever encountered.
We arrive on a quiet Sunday morning. We’re up early, thanks to our dawn-rising pooch, and eager to see what all the fuss is about. The first surprise as you enter is the sheer scale of the place. Looking at the number of tables inside, I find myself immediately thinking about the logistics of managing the floor during a busy service.
There’s at least half a dozen staff on the floor, and three behind the coffee machines as we enter. We wait by the front desk, as we’ve already spotted a group who arrived ahead of us being shown to a table.
One of the guys behind the coffee machine spots us, and tells us we can just go ahead and seat ourselves. It seems like a weird instruction to me, when there’s clearly a seating plan – larger groups of six or more are seated away from the main floor, and groups of two to four are slotted in in the middle.
Luckily we’re scooped up by a passing waitperson before I have much more time to think about it, and shown to a table for two.
Our coffee orders are taken the second we’re seated, and my faith in the service seems to be restored for the moment.
The Garage breakfast ($24.00), covers all the fry-up essentials, and it’s exactly what I’m craving on this drizzly grey morning.
Start by selecting your style of eggs (I went with scrambled), pick your toast (sourdough or rye) and bring on the rest. Here at Gordon St Garage, that means a ‘pin wheel sausage’ (a pork sausage flecked with fennel, presented like a mini cumberland sausage or boerwors), streaky bacon, wood-fired mushrooms, a sweet smoked tomato, fried potato and house made baked beans.
The fried potato is a carb lovers dream. The potato innards are fluffy and soft, and much more substantial than the average hash brown.
I’m also impressed by the smoky, streaky bacon, which definitely comes from a decent supplier (it’s not your standard, borderline anaemic bacon by any means).
The beans are sweet from sun-ripened tomatoes, and have a lovely smoky flavour from being simmered with a ham hock.
The only downer for me is the pin wheel sausage, which is porky, but lacking in moisture. I don’t think it’s a kitchen issue, but rather a lack of fat in the sausage mix.
The pulled smoked ham hock on rye comes with boston baked beans and grilled goat’s haloumi ($17.00).
J digs in with gusto, and declares it delicious, though in the end, he thinks it would have sung even more with the addition of a soft poached egg.
He tells me the addition of an oozing golden yolk would tie everything together perfectly – even the peppery rocket leaves – which at this point, sit idly to the side of his plate.
I thoroughly enjoyed the nibbles of ham hock, beans and squeaky haloumi I managed to pilfer from his plate, but can’t help but agree that an added egg would have sealed the deal for me too.
Coffee is a morning must have for us both, and I’m chuffed to find my soy flat white ($4.00 plus 0.50 for soy) is right on the mark in taste, temperature and texture.
After taking a sip of his long macchiato ($4.50), J’s also impressed, enjoying the blend used by the baristas. He’s still wishing their roastery was already in action, but we’re told that side of the business will be kicking off soon.
You can already pick up supplies of all kinds, including Hario products (like the V60 drip coffee maker), syphons and burr grinders.
Taking a sticky-beak upstairs, I found a selection of comfy couches, Scandinavian-style sideboards, and a quiet space that looked like it would be perfect for a cozy coffee or glass of red on a winter afternoon.
By the time we were ready to leave the Garage, things had picked up considerably. Though we had both enjoyed our meals, we did end our morning wondering how things would go for the Garage as business picked up.
The service, though genuinely friendly, was patchy and at times frustrating. Though service at the beginning and end of the meal seemed to be mostly in order, it seemed to be lacking somewhat while we ate.
Staff avoiding eye contact and incomplete service are pet peeves that I was disappointed to notice here. If you don’t look at me once, you’re not going to notice my empty coffee cup. And you won’t have the opportunity to offer me another round. Or to clear my plate, or suggest I have some cake with my coffee.
There’s definitely room to improve, and I’m really hoping that the motto of the former tenant of the building which still remains on the wall – ‘do it once, do it right’ – is not just aspirational.
I was happy with the food, so I’d be happy to return to see how things pick up.
Open from 7.00am – late for breakfast, lunch and dinner