This has been open for a tad over a year, and I have only just managed to go along; but go I did this week, and very happy I did so. The Public House is another excellent addition to the Perth bar, and eating, scene. In Durack House at the corner of Adelaide and St Georges Terraces, it is a spacious area, with seating both inside and outside under a roof to protect from the elements. A lot of glass allows good light into the bar, and also provides a view of the Terrace and passers-by if you are seated inside.
I went along for lunch the other day; when I arrived just before midday only three others graced the place, but by the time a mate arrived 20 minutes or so later, three or so parties of 8 to 10 had turned up and, with a number of couples, were rapidly filling up the available seats. It is good to see that lunch has not lost its attraction in the busy working world we inhabit.
High benches and stools predominate, but some tables and chairs for the less athletic among us make up the seating; so I grabbed a bench inside, and a Feral Hop Hog, while I awaited the arrival of my lunching companion.
The menu is inspired by South American cuisine and of course has a strong meat component. All of the food is designed to share – small plates such as house chorizo with burnt lime; corn on a stick with spices; sweet potato frittas; and empanadas. The larger serves included a variety of ribs (beef, chicken, lamb); slow cooked pork; slow cooked lamb shoulder; steak; and fish of the day.
A number of interesting side dishes are also listed, including tomato, palm heart & smoked mozzarella; burnt carrots, pisco syrup and coriander; and sweet potato puree.
The drinks list is well designed with a good sprinkling of South American wines including chardonnay from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay (Catena and Castillo Catamayor), pinot noir from Uruguay (Pizzorno Don Prospero) and malbec from Argentina (Carinae Gran Reserva) together with a nice selection of Australian wines such as O’Leary Walker Polish Hill River Riesling; Hayshed Hill Chardonnay; Smith & Hooper Pinot Grigio; Redstone Coriole Shiraz; and Brands The Laira Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as some examples from Spain. Dessert wines and a group of sparkling wines complete the wine list. There are around half a dozen beers on tap plus bottles of both local and imported ales, lagers and ciders including drops from Colombia, Mexico, Cuba and Spain. The ubiquitous cocktails with a South American twist make up the rest of the list.
After ordering a bottle of Mrs Wigley Grenache Rosé, we decided on a few of the smaller dishes – an avocado dip with chips; corn and manchego croquettes; buttermilk bun slider; whitefish ceviche; yuca frittas and a salad of green leaves.
The dip – basically guacamole with a touch of chilli came with what were described as pink salted crisps. These seemed to be house made, very crisp, not at all oily, and complemented the fresh, tangy dip very well indeed.
The croquettes were served with salted popcorn. The crisp exterior of the croquettes surrounded a beautiful cheesy, creamy centre, with lovely sweet notes from the corn. The cheese provided a salty contrast, and the popcorn was light, crunchy and quite delicious.
Yuca is a Spanish term for cassava – a tuberous vegetable sort of like a sweet potato with white or yellow flesh. The yuca had been chopped into bite size nuggets and deep fried. The nuggets had a delicate nutty flavour with a chewy moist interior. They were served with a wonderful dipping sauce, huancaina, which is usually made from a mixture of chilli, onion, garlic, cheese, evaporated milk and crackers. This was rich, zesty, creamy and extraordinarily moreish. It was a beautiful accompaniment to the frittas and would be similarly great with potato fries or chips.
A slider bun made with buttermilk was wrapped around a spicy slab of chicken and salad. It was a little dryer than was expected but a dollop of the avocado dip overcame that slight problem – the chicken was tasty and tender and the bun had a slightly tart taste from the buttermilk.
The ceviche, chopped raw white fish, had been doused in a zingy red sauce based on aji rocoto, a small bell pepper like chilli well known for their heat. As well, coriander and lime added their own distinctive flavours to the dish. It was fresh, light, zesty, and altogether a wonderful example of ceviche. I wanted to lick the plate.
A salad of green leaves – beetroot, lettuce, radish – was sloshed with a dressing made from pedro ximénez, the fantastic dessert wine which added a sweet contrast to the tartness of the leaves. It was fresh and full of lifted flavours.
The Public House is housed in a space that I recall many years ago containing an employment agency established by a couple of blokes I knew from when I worked in the late and unlamented Department of Employment, Education and Training, and set up after the Howard government dismantled and flogged off the Commonwealth Employment Service. You won’t get a job here now – unless you are after a hospitality gig- but you will experience a fantastic place to relax, unwind and enjoy excellent tapas style food, accompanied by well matched wines, beers and cocktails. Additionally you will experience excellent service from the very engaging waiters who welcome you. The Public House is definitely recommended – and they also accept the wonderful Entertainment Card, so you will get a nice discount while you help charity. Perfect!