Friday, 28 December 2012

Kava Cafe, Bicton

Point Walter to the Bridges -  12km

Same bat time, same bat channel. This time however, having threatened to do so for weeks, Westy's brother Dr Evil sent a shockwave through the collective Grumpy Old Paddlers by actually turning up! This threw us a little - we didn't know whether to start left or right, or whether to just abandon the whole enterprise and go to the pub. At 7.30am. Still, it was only a couple of weeks ago that we were having a beer post-paddle under the Pt Walter pines at 9.21am, so anything was possible.

We decided to head down to the bridges, with a 5-strong group of paddlers including Mean Gene, M4P, Dr Evil, Westy and I. Mean Gene relegated us all into the realms of girly-men by showing up in his sparkling new Triton, and dropping the 'I just bought a ski' bombshell as well. Not to be outdone by Westy and I's stock standard Endorfinns, Mean Gene went for the lightweight version and got it fully optioned with a backrest, paddle, six cup holders and a spoiler. Unfortunately the manufacture of the carbon-fibre/unobtainium spoiler was holding up delivery, so Mean Gene took my poverty-pack Endorfinn GL-model for the paddle. Dr Evil was also bolstering the Finn fan club on his Afinnity, whilst having his first Saturday morning off since the construction of the WoopWoop District Hospital and Abattoir.

I was a bit gun-shy this morning after bending the be-jesus out of my rudder post last weekend on a jumping rock just out from the spit, so pretty much carried my V10 Sport to the Bicton baths before I was brave enough to let the hull hit the water. It was an uneventful paddle to the bridges at Fremantle, but by the time we turned around, the Rottnest parade had begun with bucketloads of boats on the way out. The chop from several caused me to be a little vertically embarrassed and somewhat wet just off East Fremantle yacht club, but unlike my Hawaiian debacle, I was back in and paddling straight away.

Westy and I had put on the pace from the East Fremantle Yacht Club on the outbound leg and had reached the bridges on our own before catching Dr Evil and M4P immediately after my little foray into submarine life. On the way back a more-middle-aged-than-we-are couple had decided to jump off the Bicton cliffs into the water on a beautiful Perth morning. Well, the bloke had. The woman was stuck on the cliff and no amount of sledging...err..encouragement from us would get her to jump.

Mean Gene had been paddling around the Point Walter spit for the morning, and when the remaining four of us arrived back, he was way over the other side which gave us a bit of time to get ourselves sorted before breakfast. The council has 'remodelled' the foreshore at Pt Walter, putting in a few boat-like structures, but alas, nothing actually as useful as a shower on the western side. When Mean Gene got back we were sorted in no time and off to breakfast at a cafe that we'd passed a hundred times before but never stopped at...

Kava Cafe, 39a Bristol Ave, Bicton, WA, 6157, (08) 9319 1669

Kava Cafe, Bicton. Two thumbs up.
OK. I had read some not-very-flattering reviews of the Kava Cafe, and when I posted a photo of the menu on Facebook, one erstwhile punter had commented that with those prices they were on something considerably more hallucinogenic than Kava, and suggested that until they were revised that it be renamed the "Crack Cafe". Running on the 4-1 principle of reviews (i.e. four times as many people will go on line to complain about a bad experience than they will to wax lyrical about a good one), I was more than a little skeptical about the bad write-ups. As we were paddling I had deftly deflected Westy's inquiry  about whether I had read anything about the place online, lest a revolt over the choice of breakfast venue occur at the last minute.

I'm glad I succumbed to my devious side, because what we got was something completely at odds with the bad reviews I had read.

With five ski-laden vehicles, the complete lack of (legal) parking for longer than 10 minutes was an immediate challenge warranting 'innovative' solutions, but it the end it didn't prevent two of the group having to park so far away that they could see the skyline of South Geraldton. At this festive time of year it was asking for trouble to breakfast next door to a bottle shop, but given that we had individually given our home brew a bit of a 'nudge' (obviously not in a Robert Hughes/'Hey Dad!' 'Nudge'-type of manner) a 'long' breakfast was luckily avoided. 

We barely had our bums on the seats outside when a young lass came and got our coffee orders and it was shortly afterwards that the same friendly staffy (as in 'staff-y' - no reference to a Staffordshire bull terrier) came and efficiently took our breakfast orders.

The hash is hiding - or I may have inhaled it before the plate hit the table.
Our coffees arrived in short shrift and breakfast was there very shortly afterwards, which was a big tick-in-the-box after last week's journey through the ages. I had ordered the Spring Onion, Sweet Corn, Potato Hash with Sticky Maple Bacon, Spinach, Roast Tomato and Poached Eggs ($20) having been completely sucked in by the thought of sticky maple bacon. My mug of Flat White had turned up just prior at exactly the right drinking temperature and was just what I needed. I was a little disappointed that I didn't get a Wombat's Arse pattern on my coffee like last week, but it went down well never the less. The breakfast was superb - the eggs were poached beautifully, the hash was delicious and the not-quite-crispy maple bacon was so sweetly salty good that I was almost in need of a bucket of cold water. The only thing that this dish needed was a drizzle of Hollandaise and perhaps a nice slice of turkish toast to complete it.

Westy's Omelette
Westy had gone the Three-Egg Omelette with Semi-Dried Tomatoes, Feta Cheese, Spinach and Bacon (Mushrooms available as a bacon substitute - but why would you?) for $17.50. He also had some Ciabatta toast on the side. His omelette looked nicely formed, and Westy's silence seemed to indicate his satisfaction. M4P had the Brekkie Sandwich (Bacon, Fried Egg, Rocket, Tomato and BBQ sauce on Toasted Ciabatta - $14.50) which looked outstanding and seemed to be a very good post-paddle choice. Because it's Christmas, I'm over 40, and have beer-induced memory like a sieve, I have little firm recollection of what Mean Gene and Dr Evil individually had, but I'm pretty sure there was another Three-Egg Omelette and the Kava Breakfast (Two eggs, Bacon, Roast Tomato, Mushrooms and House-made Baked Beans on Toast -$21) involved.

M4P's Brekkie Sandwich
As we contently inhaled our meals over a second brew, it turned out that three of us had recently had to change mobile phones, and it seemed that the common factor of being over 40 had turned three formerly tech-savvy gents into dribbling Mindas unable to do something as simple as answer a bloody call on a Samsung phone. For the record, when the call is inbound, a big green 'button' appears on the screen and no matter how many times you press the bloody thing - where it says 'Answer'! - you won't be connected unless you press and slide the damned thing. Fair dinkum, Samsung. Give us a break. We're blokes. We're genetically unable to read instructions, and generally unwilling to do so anyway. Make it easy on us.

Back to Kava, though. I'm really glad that I ignored some of the bad reviews, because I quite liked the whole breakfast experience there. The service was very friendly and efficient but unobtrusive, the menu was good, and so was the coffee. I didn't think the prices out of kilter with the area in any way, and probably if anything the menu was slightly cheaper than their competitors. Extra marks for being next to a bottle shop. I would definitely recommend Kava Cafe - we'll certainly be back!

Kava Cafe - 7.5/10.

Kava Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Left Bank, Fremantle

Point Walter to Mosman Bay and Applecross - 12.4km, 1hr 30 min

Westy, Bad James and I rendezvoused at Point Walter on a deadset cracker of a morning for what looked to be our standard Bridges run. As we put in we couldn't help but notice that there was a photo shoot of a skimpy bikini-clad lovely going on just on the other side of the spit from us. It was quite apparent that said bikini wench wasn't exactly Linda Evangelista, but in a comment sure to shock my loyal readership, none of us are Brad Pitt-like specimens either, so we called it even. Helpfully, a few comments were offered regarding brisk, early morning temperatures, puppy-dog noses and the pitfalls of bikinis at that time of day and amongst awkward faux-laughter from both sides we slid the steeds of Neptune into the pancake-flat waters of the Swan, just as Good James sidled up to the bank.

Given that Good James was only allowed to play for twenty nine minutes this morning we paddled with him back towards Mosman Bay where his ski-trolley was parked. Just as I was getting into the paddling groove a formerly-stationary rock came leaping up from the depths to hit my rudder. A quick check told me that it was still operating, so off we continued. Later investigation back at Chez Miles showed the rudder shaft bent 15 degrees to port, and in dire need of a bench vice which my neighbour was kind enough to provide. Luckily, we got Good James back in time before his ski-trolley turned back into a pumpkin and he was able to get home before the explosive collar device that had been affixed to his neck to ensure timing compliance detonated. We think.

The lap of Mosman Bay was serene. Barely a breathe of wind, and by the time we got to the red buoy opposite Pt Walter we had decided to go over to Applecross for a look. There appeared to be a few yachts on the water and by the way they were weaving all over the place it was likely that the yacht club had had it's Christmas Party the night before. Although tempted to play Rule Of the Road Chicken discretion formed the better part of valour, and we gave them a wide berth.

It's been a big week for me at Gorilla Biscuit Pty Ltd. After many head injuries and facial deformities I've finished my time in the face-smashing department, and have moved off the line and into the company headquarters, where I get to smash my face not into dough, but into the formica of a desk. Luckily I'm on leave until March and only have a few months after that until I relocate to one of the firm's international outposts in Rhode Island, USA for a 3 year tenure to teach the North American team how to firmly faceplant on a regular schedule. You beauty!

Anyway, I digress. We pushed on, through the 3cm waves, and reached a special marker buoy just of the Applecross waterfront. It was here that Bad James came up with the idea of The Left Bank for breakfast. In the past I haven't been very impressed by TLB breakfasts, but we thought we'd give it a go so around the buoy we went and thanks to the wake of a massive gin palace going by at a great rate of knots, managed to surf most of the way back to Point Walter.

The Left Bank, 15 Riverside Road,  East Fremantle, WA 6158, (08)93191315,

The view from our table - the best in the beer garden.

 If you haven't been to The Left Bank, chances are you are either 90 years old or have never been to Perth. It's a deadset cracker of a pub famous for it's Sunday sessions. Recently, and long-overdue they've put tap-beer in and despite distinctly un-1973-like prices (or as we said on Saturday, they've gone from over-priced bottled beer to over-priced tap beer) it is still a great place to sit and spend an afternoon. Although if, like me, you are blessed with a blood nut and skin that is the natural enemy of 60W lightbulbs, you'd best sit inside.

Or you could spend the morning here, like the group of Pretty Young Things on the tables next to us who were headed off on 3 boats to sit off Carnac Island for the day. If their condition at 0930 was anything to go by, the fish wouldn't have to wait long for a free feed that day. The champers and beer were flowing and all were in great spirits as they wobbled off down to the jetty, several of the ladies with waists akin to our wrists, and pretty much all tattooed hip-cool-fab-groovily.

Definitely a Wombat's arse.
At TLB you order at the counter, grab a number and breakfast arrives at your table after a seriously long wait. The coffee was luke warm and pretty weak when it arrived after 20 minutes and 20 minutes before the first vestiges of food appeared, and seemed to have an odd Wombat's Arse-like shape poured into the top...

Westy and I had ordered the Left Bank Breakfast  (bacon and poached eggs on Italian loaf with Roma tomatoes, field mushrooms and Hollandaise sauce - $22), whilst Bad James had opted for the Mushroom Bruschetta (sauteed button mushrooms on Italian loaf with a poached egg and rocket - $17) with a side of baked beans that would provide much entertainment for his tin lids later on.

Bad James' breakfast arrived just as he began to gnaw on the limestone blocks. Unfortunately all our coffees were long-gone by then and faced with another interminable wait, we had all blown off the idea of getting another one here lest we be still sitting there at Easter. His breakfast looked pretty good though, and there were several satisfied-like grunts emanating from his direction. The rocket was definitely fresh and the egg looked nicely cooked under a drizzle of Hollandaise. 

Bad James' Mushroom Bruschetta

As Bad James was wiping the last masses of yolk off his forehead, Westy and my Left Bank Breakfasts turned up. Far be it from me to be fussy, but I really like my breakfast to appear whilst it is still hot. Especially when I could have built the Great Pyramid of Giza in the time it took between ordering and receiving the meal. So it was with disappointment that I noticed that the tepid coffee was designed to complement the stone-cold eggs. 

The Left Bank Breakfast - Stone Cold Steve Austin.
The second pang of culinary disappointment came with the Hollandaise which was initially very runny and vinegary, but at least it was freshly made, and I have to admit that later on it firmed a little of became better tasting. The egg was nicely cooked and the bacon was in the sweet spot just before getting crunchy. The Roma tomato and mushrooms were spot on. This was a breakfast which held much promise, but by having weak coffee with weird patterns, letting the food get cold and taking so bloody long to get meals to the customers, The Left Bank snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I'll still go to this iconic pub to have a beer - but I won't be going back for breakfast any time soon.

The Left Bank - 6/10 (another point when the food comes out inside 30 minutes and WITH the coffee, and another when it comes out hot, inside 30 minutes and with better, hot coffee)

The Left Bank Cafe Bar Restaurant on Urbanspoon