My husband and I have just come back from the most incredible weekend away at Jalbrook Cottages in Balingup – a lovely wedding present from work colleagues. It has a 100% rating on Trip Advisor, which we all know is as rare as a stylish mullet. But what’s not to love about fresh baked bread in your cottage for breakfast, a private heated spa on the balcony overlooking the bushland and a wood fire to sit by at night whilst you enjoy your tasting platter and local wine from Barrecas Winery.
What does any of this have to do with Cantina 663 besides me wanting to give Jalbrook a little plug in this review? Well having a relaxing weekend away put me in the right frame of mind to tackle a restaurant I have snubbed for many years after a bad experience. People kept saying to me “have you been to Cantina for a review – it’s the best!”. I’d smile politely (i.e. resting bitch face) and say “I’m never going there again”.
Well a lot has changed since I ventured there for breakfast last decade and let me tell you – I certainly have egg on my face now. Cantina is bloody amazing!
It’s a tiny space in the actual restaurant but there is oodles of room out in the arcade with bar seating, booths and tables along open windows so you people watch the Beaufort street parade.
Monday morning was easy for getting a table but the constant stream of bleary eyed coffee drinkers kept the barista busy. The coffee here is by Perth fave Five Senses. If you want a coffee that is rich with those berry top notes – then this is your brew. Don’t know what I mean? You know when you take a sip and at first it’s creamy and full flavoured then it ends with a crisp taste on the back of your tongue? THAT’S what I mean. It’s at that moment you know you have a good brew. This was the first time I have ever seen Andy regret putting sugar in to his coffee only to order a second cup just to skip the sweet stuff.
The menu is concise and different. If you are looking for eggs benedict and omelettes then you need to go somewhere else. They are all about quality not quantity here and are passionate about using seasonal local produce, meaning the menu changes constantly. Prices top out at $23 for the “mama’s breakfast” – scrambled egg, bacon, sausage, mushroom, potato, beans. AND they have a friggen panna cotta on the menu – A PANNA COTTA FOR BREAKFAST! For only $9 it is served with rhubarb and an almond crumb. Yum.
Andy ordered the corn beef hash ($20) which came served with a fried egg, sauerkraut and russian dressing. Russian dressing? Well it was actually invented in America and is made from mayo, tabasco, worcestershire and tomato sauce.. so it’s kinda like thousand island but with a bit of a kick and less “chinese restaurant prawn cocktail”. Fried eggs are Andy’s forte. He could write a whole review for me on the quality of one. This one was up there with the best. A dark crispy bottom with the yolk still poised to release a river of gold. The sauerkraut took him straight back to Berlin – acidic with a slight crunch, it was the perfect balance for the corned beef. Chunks of meat with a crispy outer protecting the tender salty goodness on the inside. It doesn’t get any better than that.
I started off ordering the Freo sardines ($15) but the kitchen hadn’t prepped them yet. Damn. Instead I went with scrambled eggs with toast ($13.90). You might be thinking, “wow.. boring Liz”. WRONG. These were the best damn scrambled eggs I have ever tasted. They tasted like butter cooked with eggs cooked with cream and did I mention butter? So buttery and full of chives, I was disappointed to see the end of this dish.
Andy made a comment to me over our coffee… he said after growing up in England where breakfast is a boring world of greasy bacon, eggs and beans; he loves coming to places where there are different but quality options on the menu. It’s rare for him to say anything bad about ol blighty (that’s usually my job).. I was almost being berated for not taking him to Cantina sooner!
So Cantina663 – you’re alright. I am sorry I doubted you all these years!663 Beaufort St, Mt Lawley
Breakfast served 7.30am – 11.3am daily
Originally posted on WA Today on Friday 10th October 2014