The Witch’s Cauldron has been around in Subiaco for over 40 years – in an industry where places come and go with regularity that fact alone should be an indication that they are doing something right. We have been going off and on for many years and as we were out Subi way during the week thought we should drop in for lunch and see how things were.
The most famous dishes at the Witch’s over the years without doubt have been their garlic prawns and the steaks – particularly with the pepper sauce. However this day we decided to choose from the Business Lunch – a couple of courses for $55. The garlic prawns did appear so we ordered that along with salt and pepper squid. Other entrées on offer were garlic sourdough, beef carpaccio and soup of the day. For our mains we opted for the grilled catch of the day and lamb fillets, even though the others – beef salad, beer battered whiting and grilled gnocchi had their attractions.
The wine list here is another attraction. It is well put together, includes some excellent wines from Australia and overseas, and a good range by the glass. It is also noticeable for the top shelf wines available – Hill of Grace, Grange and some excellent Bordeaux for example – and of course for these you will pay a premium, but at not too many places do you even get the choice.
We started with a glass each of 2014 Watershed rosé, from Margaret River, followed by a bottle of 2012 Woodstock Octogenarian, a Grenache and Tempranillo blend from McLaren Vale. The rosé, made from Shiraz, had strawberry and cream notes of the nose, and some raspberry flavours on the palate. Although it was a little sweet for our taste, it would be a good companion for spicy food, and has a nice soft finish. (88)
The Octogenarian on the other hand hit all the markers. It is deep red with aromas of plums and rhubarb underpinned by spicy notes – pepper and aniseed – while the palate was medium bodied, with soft tannins and red berry and cherry flavours, and a long, satisfying finish. It is designed as a food wine and it certainly hit the spot with us. (91)
The garlic prawns were served in a cast iron bowl, swimming in chilli and garlic infused oil. The prawns were sweet and crunchy and the spices gave the dish some real punch. It is rightly one of the most requested and loved dishes here.
Tender tentacles of lightly battered squid were served with what was called chilli jam, but it was more of a sauce – in any event it had a nice chilli zing to it, and the creamy aioli a good contrast of flavour. The squid was tender, the sauce zingy, it was a complete dish.
My catch of the day, a large piece of well cooked fish came with fresh lemon slices and meunière sauce. The fish was juicy, tender and full of flavour while the sauce of brown butter, parsley and lemon provided a zesty addition to the sweet flesh. It was a generous serve – as are all of the dishes at the Witch’s Cauldron – and very tasty and enjoyable.
Lamb fillets had been marinated in garlic and rosemary and served on a bed of cherry tomatoes and potato with aioli on the side. The lamb was full of flavour imparted from the marinade, tender with a touch of pink as requested. Again it was a substantial serve but Lady FWO struggled manfully on to almost finish it.
For another $10 a head we could have ordered one of the appealing desserts but the size of our starters and mains put paid to any idea of that.
The Witch’s Cauldron turns out substantial, well cooked meals and while not at the cheaper end of the scale provide good value for money. The special lunch menu especially provides good choice and value. The wine list is outstanding, and the service always friendly and welcoming. Judging by this visit we can expect the old place to be around for some years yet.