What images conjure in your minds eye when you think of the West End in Freo? Is it divey bars? Walls built by convicts? Or are you thinking “where’s the West End?”. It’s not last century anymore – west is the place to be in Freo and Chalkys cafe is one of the reasons why.
Sitting under the looming shadow of the historic Round House gaol is this clean cut cafe and it doesn’t get more West End than that. The tables outside are a real treat to get – an uninterrupted view of the gaol on side and you can see the entire length of High street on the other.
After I parked the car easily in the quiet street and paid next to nothing for parking, I walked up to meet my friend Kat. All I could smell was coffee, bacon and toast. Does get any better than that at breakfast time? (People who live in Perth but constantly compare us to Melbourne – don’t answer that.)
Coffee is roasted at the Small Print roastery in the city by the guys from Dukes. This Melbourne coffee company set up a base in Perth and are working in partnership with the Small Print team to bring us some pretty darn good coffee. Chalkys is taking advantage of this and offering it in the port city. In a sea of overheated, stiff foam cappuccinos, this is a welcome addition.
The menu seems quite egg-centric with a few other options like pancakes, porridge and muesli making an appearance. Prices range from $7 for toast up to $20 for either the “Natasha Chalkys” – poached eggs, house cured salmon, asparagus, hollandaise and seeded wholemeal or “The Hock” – poached eggs, master stock braised pork, potato and artichoke gratin and hollandaise.
Lately I have had a hankering for that whole “dip your bread in a tasty tomato sugo” experience. I had shak shuka at the twilight markets on Friday… but I needed more. So baked eggs ($18) it was. A large Corningware dish came out filled with beans, chickpeas and sweet tomato sauce that tempered my craving for bread dipping goodness. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been eating chilli like a woman possessed lately, but the beans really packed a punch and the salty feta melted on top was a straight up win. Feel like you need to beef this brekky up? For an extra $3 you can add spicy chorizo.
The litmus test of breakfast has to be eggs benny. If the chef can’t make hollandaise sauce.. then what are they even doing in the kitchen? Kat put them to the test with her order of the eggs benedict ($18). Served on a piece of thick cut seeded wholemeal was Chalkys take on this dish; replacing the traditional ham with thin sliced prosciutto chalked up the saltiness with a buttery hollandaise evening out the playing field. Sitting proudly on slither of white, the golden runny yolks were faultless. BUT disappointingly the whole dish was cold. Despite this Kat still cleared her plate, and even said “well it proves I didn’t mind that much.”
When it comes to Freo, people tend to get caught up in the whole “cappuccino strip” thing. But come on.. those places are only surviving on the money of tourists. Don’t be clueless; if you want the good stuff you have to head West. There’s so many great little cafes open down that way and Chalkys is one of them. Trust me when I say there’s not an overheated stiff foam cappuccino in sight!1 High Street, West End Fremantle
Breakfast served from 7am every day
Originally published on WA Today Friday 19th December 2014