Monday, 16 December 2013

All birds flock together to The Old Crow

 I did a mental wow in my head when it arrived...
The Old Crow on Urbanspoon
It was through small talk at my hairdresser's where I first heard of The Old Crow. In more accurate terms, my hairdresser described the place being "that new place across the road that brings a lot more people to this street". Newcastle Street was a relatively quiet one until The Old Crow descended, along with the wildly popular haunt Tuck Shop Cafe, a favourite for breakfast and brunchers. The Old Crow's current heyday doesn't look like it's dying down any time soon and just how my hairdresser says that the increased foot traffic to the area is benefiting the business, I'd say The Old Crow's permanent visit is a bigger benefit gained by everybody.
Old Crow, new(ish) place
If there's one thing Perth is experiencing, it is change. Massive change to the physical environment, what it has to offer and the sheer amount of people out in town on a week night for a meal. Being unable to book a table for dinner without doing so days or even weeks in advance is berserk, but in such a good way that reflects our growing city's coming of age.

Northbridge especially fits this criteria. Long gone are the days where this was a dingy, drab landscape flooded with teenyboppers and the like. It is developing into a tasteful hub of food, culture and activity with an unmissable sense of sophistication. The birth of all the new restaurants and cafes in the area is amazing and despite the negative connotation with crows (at least with me anyway, ever since I witnessed one of those beasts swoop down and rip the head right off a bird - sorry, blood and gore should never be mentioned on a food blog!), people seem to have a huge appetite for The Old Crow.
Indoor seating, complete with a fireplace
The Old Crow's premises is in a small cosy cottage and at the risk of sounding totally cliché, full of rustic charm. The large chunky wooden tables and chairs indoors is a striking contrast to the outdoor courtyard, which provides a more open, airy seating option. The place is a combination of modern crossed with antique craftsmanship and the smallness of the indoor area means there is a continuous but comfortable drone of voices that travel along the walls.
Alabama Sweet Tea - $12
We started dinner with the Alabama Sweet Tea, refreshingly cold and full of sweet, citrusy tones. The non-alcoholic pitcher is made up with orange pekoe tea, citrus slices, still water and probably an overgenerous addition of sugar. The initial gulps were satisfying but without anything to eat yet the drink eventually became very sweet. Admittedly we tried to further dilute it with water but it didn't work out quite as planned.
The tall pitcher means you can get at least a solid six cups out of one pitcher
Complimentary bread and whipped butter
We love our bread, we love our butter, but most of all, we love the fact that this gorgeously fluffy bread is delivered to the table right after we make our order. The crust is delightfully crunchy and the centre is pillowy soft and spongy; a great vessel to soak up the red bean gravy that comes much, much later in the night.
Smoked beef cheek, pickled walnuts and garlic toast - $16.50
The Old Crow has quite a large selection of dishes designed to be shared around the table, some of which are quite hefty in size. We decided on the beef cheek upon recommendations from our waitress, who sang praises for how delicious this was. The two lightly buttered garlic toasts are piled with mounds of delightfully soft beef, contrasted with the crunch of sweetly spiced pickled walnuts. One of my favourites that night!
Bunker mushrooms, hush puppies and fresh corn polenta - $16.50
In contrast, this was a lighter dish full of fresh ingredients that goes down a treat. After our ignorance to what hush puppies were, I am quite in like with these lightly coated and fried cubes of cornmeal. The croquettes are like cubes of deep fried mashed potato but are not starchy in any way, pairng so well with the juicy mushrooms and the blanket of polenta. Mushrooms are my all time favourites, so I wouldn't have minded more of those on the plate!
Crudo, swordfish, green raisin, citrus and capers - $16.50
The girls really enjoyed this refreshingly tangy combination of raw fish with citrusy tones. Ever since trying the crudo of swordfish at Chapter One Brasserie, I have taken a liking to it; the firmness and natural sweetness of the fish is definitely not a one hit wonder. The dish is like a ceviche, and the onion slithers and crisp radish provide that nice crunch that's missing from the dish.
Crispy brussels sprouts, chilli jam, pine nuts and buttermilk - $16.50
We did not end up finishing this dish, and the reason wasn't because they were brussels sprouts. When the menu describes these dishes as 'to share', I really underestimated the serving sizes of the plates! This was BIG, and I did a mental wow in my head when it arrived at the table.

This one dish got all the credit from our waitress, as being one of the best on their menu (basically saying, if you can't decide what to get, then get the brussels sprouts). I guess I understood why; while they are usually the cringeworthy food that kids sneak to their dogs under the dinner table, this would make brussels sprout haters rethink their stance on this unassuming vegetable. They lived up to their description of being 'crispy', which hardly ever happens for me - it's like I order soft skin salmon, soft pork belly crackling and soft lotus chips.
Smoked brisket, red bean gravy, mash, horseradish - $32
Nearly a good part of an hour wait later, we were almost certain that the kitchen had forgotten our main. We were ready to cancel it when it was brought to the table, looking mighty fine. There were a few other dishes we were playing this one up against, but ultimately was sold on the waitress' words 'the best mashed potato I have ever tasted, it's even better than my family's' (she did a good job that night didn't she!)

The plate was conveniently located right in front of me and while I declared myself to be full, I picked and pecked at the dish bit by bit and to my horror, eventually ended up finishing it all. Whilst I did finish it, we did consider this to be the most disappointing dish in comparison to everything else we ooh'ed and ahh'ed over that night. The brisket was dry and stringy, whilst more flavour to the dish overall - in particular those lovely red beans - would have seriously enhanced the dish's status from mediocrity.

*Menu has changed. Buttermilk fried duck, I'm lusting after you.
Cornbread, gravy, crispy onions - $9
It is easy to overestimate the size of your stomach when you are ferociously hungry, and on this occasion we must have thought our appetites were insatiable. We ordered this side dish of cornbread and crispy onions which was left untouched (also because it came a while after the main dish was served), to which they happily supplied us with a takeaway option when asked. The side dish is a huge serving and I would have stuffed myself happy with those golden crisp crackling-lookalike onions if I wasn't already stuffed to the brim.
This old cash register looks right at home
As with any great restaurant, the most noteworthy point about The Old Crow is a unique, stand-out (and everchanging!) menu that delivers on its ability to make you indecisive about all the different options that all sound equally as enticing as one another. This place might just be another one of those establishments where you could trust enough to be able to close your eyes and randomly point to anywhere on the menu and be satisfied with the choice.

Our waitress for the night was also commendable, having the patience to deal with our indecisiveness and was also friendly to have an informal chat with. For the rest of the night however, no one else dropped by to check in if we needed anything else which was a bit of a bummer, and it would have been nice to let us know of the unexpectedly long wait time for our mains to be delivered!

It is a highly popular destination for an all-day feed due to its long opening hours and rivals The Tuck Shop for breakfast/brunch, which is only about 20 steps as the crow flies to The Old Crow :-) I have a good feeling about The Old Crow as it soars to dizzy heights of our food loving community.
The Old Crow, Northbridge
The Old Crow
Mon: 8am - 10pm
Thurs: 10am - 10pm
Fri: 10am - late
Sat: 8am - late
Sun: 8am - 10pm
Closed Tues & Wedn

Tel: (08)9227 9995
172 Newcastle Street Perth WA

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