It’s always the little things. A waiter who remembers your favourite drink, a restaurant manager who knows your name or a simple act of hospitality, like asking to hang your jacket or providing a stool for your handbag (as they do at Voyager Estate).
When you order a Campari soda at The Shorehouse, the Campari arrives in a double old-fashioned glass with lots of ice, with a mini carafe of soda water, allowing you to mix it strong or weak to suit your taste.
It’s a great first impression and begs the question: “Why don’t more restaurants do this?”
It is, after all, the proper way to serve it, in the same way that a barman should never add water to pastis — that’s the customer’s job. Most restaurants deliver Campari soda already mixed and always too diluted.
Small thing, right? Yes, but a lasting impression, and a portent of seriously engineered customer service.
The Shorehouse was the ocean-side, mega project of Scott Taylor, the larger-than-life hospitality entrepreneur who went broke a couple of years ago under a mountain of debt and unpaid creditors. His partner in the venture was George Kailis, who now owns it outright and has held true to the original, fun, beach-house vibe that Taylor created.
The menu complies with the contemporary construction of bites, small plates, larger plates and sides, all mostly share-able.
Oysters, $4.50 each, were fresh and served at a good temperature, as in not fridge cold. A platter of these with a glass of chablis is probably all you need some days.
Freo octopus has to be the protein of the year and The Shorehouse hasn’t missed the trend. The kitchen does a top job with some smart grilling and well-deployed garnishes such as nduja, sliced kipflers and taramasalata, $25.
Mango teamed with seafood seems, well, so Gold Coast circa 1980s. And yet, there was very little to complain about with The Shorehouse’s “Jospered” tiger prawns with mango and cucumber salsa. It’s about as 2018 as an episode of Friends but it was beautifully cooked. A Josper oven is a cracking piece of kit in the right hands and this kitchen knows how to use it. The prawns were sweet and just cooked in the middle but aromatic and blistered on the shell — which adds lots of flavour to the flesh — from the 500C inferno.
Fish schnitzel with bacon dust and shaved cabbage, $35, was a crack-up because the term schnitzel is so cleverly appropriated. It brings a smile to your face. Breaded, fried fish fillets are, you could argue, a schnitzel, especially when they are pan cooked and not thrown in the deep-fryer. We suspect the use of the word has sold far more of this fish dish than if it were called fried fish. The fish was well cooked, too. A tartare sauce on the side was clean and punchy and brilliant.
The food at The Shorehouse is beachfront ready. It’s exactly what you’d expect to find on a menu at a stylish, Hamptons-esque restaurant on the beach. It’s a good-sized menu too. There’s a freshness and lightness to the cooking, which is also just right here.
The Shorehouse has an epic wine list — one of Perth’s finest. It has 25 fizzy wines, 19 of them champagne, ranging from $115 to $650. If you’re going large, there are two Dom Perignons at $650. Save your money.
The superior champagne on this list, a 2009 Louis Roederer Cristal, also happens to be a bargain at $540, if, of course, you have the readies to experience such greatness. 1973, 1985, 1990, 1996 and 2008 were champagne’s belter years of the last half century. 2009 wasn’t up to those remarkable vintages but, nonetheless, the 09 Cristal will make you very, very happy.
Fun fact: The 2008 champagne vintage is so blindingly impressive, both Roederer and and Dom Perignon have held them back and released their 09 vintages ahead of their 2008 wines.
For we mere mortals, the by-the-glass list is thoughtful and plentiful and there are many affordable and interesting titles. The wine list comes complete with maps and explanations about particular vintages, regions and wine producers and it is a glorious 40 pages long.
We talk so much about “vibe” in this column, we often sound like Dennis Denuto summing up for the High Court. But sometimes, “vibe” is the only word (“ambience” is a bridge too far, I’m afraid) that captures the essence of a restaurant. The room, the smart casual service, the yellow- striped market umbrellas, the wooden floors and the Indian Ocean views … all of these things scream summer and celebration and fun.
Seven days, breakfast, lunch, dinner and bar service
Small plates $16-$25
Larger plates $28-$45
If summer vibes were embodied in a restaurant, The Shorehouse is it. Epic wines, casual but well-informed service. Good beachside dining.