Remember when Leighton Beach used to be the next crappy car park up from Port Beach? It has looked a bit more flash than that for a while now but I still feel like it is a foreign place when I drive around the windy roads with manicured gardens and towering apartments one can only hope to ever afford.
The benefit to this development is the opening of nosheries that take advantage of the view and serve more than hot chips, Chiko rolls and Masters flavoured milks. Don’t get me wrong – I love hot chips and a choc milk on the beach as much as the next person but there’s nothing wrong wanting to enjoy a first class sit down meal over looking our beautiful beaches. The Shipping Lane opened in October and is offering just that.
A mixture of tanned beauties, families, dog walkers, beach goers and the fitness heads make themselves at home amongst the industrial vs retro decor. There is something warm and inviting about this restaurant. Maybe it’s the soft finishes and wood contrasting the galvanised steel or the staff who can’t do enough for you. But whatever it is, the designer nailed it.
When my sister and I were seated, we didn’t get the best table even though I had booked. I wanted to sit near one of the windows to look out at the beach and I asked if we could move tables. The staff member quickly went to check and happily moved us. I hate asking to move tables but it is always fresh in my mind what one of my favourite food critics, Giles Coren said in a book of his. Restaurants want to get rid of the bad tables first, so ask for a better one! What’s the worst they can say?
The coffee here is roasted in house and I expected something pretty amazing but despite being creamy and the perfect temperature, our coffee was mild in flavour at best. At one point I wasn’t sure if there was any coffee in there and I considered saying something but my sister Sarah said hers was mild too. Maybe I just prefer a more robust brew but looking back through The Shipping Lane’s Facebook and Instagram photos, they even describe their own coffee as bold and rich. Maybe we got them on an off day?
The menu is labeled as “brunch” which is perfect for those who love a lazy weekend sleep in. Don’t expect to find your usual breakfast fare here, yes there is the obligatory eggs on toast and muesli but it’s more about some well thought out dishes that will change the way your think about breakfast. I’m talking about mushroom crepes, slow poaches salmon… you get the picture. Prices range for $5 for toast (including gluten free) up to $24 for the big breakfast – bacon, chorizo, haloumi, semi-dried tomatoes, poached eggs, hash brown, greens and avocado. They have considered people with allergies here labelling some meals as “containing nuts” and there are some pretty decent options for the meat dodgers as well.
Sarah asked if it was too greedy to order the big breakfast. It’s like she doesn’t know me at all – of course it’s not! When I ordered at the counter and asked for gluten free bread, the staff member asked if we wanted the hash brown or not. I asked if it was gluten free and she said no, I said “put it on the plate and she can decide” (because obviously I wanted it on there for the purpose of the review!)… then she asked if the person had coeliacs, which my sister does, and she said “they can’t have the gluten touching the other food, I will let the kitchen know and we’ll put the hash brown on a side plate”. WOW. We were impressed and I felt like the bad sister! Not a sigh or rolling of eyes in sight at a gluten free request. The best intentions were there but when the meal came out the hash brown was on the plate. For the $24 price tag I was wondering what she’d get. There was more meat on the plate than you’d see at a dance music festival. A load of bacon and chorizo was hard to finish but still an impressive serve. There was no scrimping on the haloumi either. Two poached eggs were cooked brilliantly with “just done” whites and gooey yolks and the sun dried tomatoes did well to offer something different to the boring old grilled tomato you’d usually see on a big brekky. Greenery on the plate was ok for something fresh. Was it worth the $24 price tag? I’ll let you be the judge…
I’m off eggs at the moment, so to see a few non-egg choices on the menu was a bit of win. The crispy potato stack ($18) was a STACK if I have ever seen one. I have no idea how it made it to the table without toppling over. OK, so let’s start at the top… a crispy potato skin (remember when potato skins were a “thing”) filled with a light quinoa salad sat perched on a bed of sweet pumpkin jam that had a sprinkling of sunflower seeds and raisins. Next up were two slabs of the “steak of cheeses” haloumi and it’s nest of soft avocado. The stage for all this was a thick, crumbed hash brown filled with creamy potato and fresh herbs. The moat of mint sour cream was a refreshing finale. There was a lot of stodge in this dish, but that minted sour cream just evened it all out perfectly. This dish deserves a round of applause as one of the best non-egg savoury breakfasts I have ever had.
The Shipping Lane is adding to the list of new quality beach side restaurants that aren’t just relying on their views to draw in and keep customers. With a brunch menu running until 3pm, there is no rush to get out of bed or rush your morning beach walk to make breakfast.
Breakfast served every day 7am – 3pm (breakfast is from 8am, coffee from 7am)
Originally published on WA Today – Friday 16th January 2015