Perth is a city known for its seemingly endless coastline and golden sunsets over the Indian ocean, so we are spoilt for choice when it comes to waterfront dining. You can go from casually eating takeaway fish & chips by the beach to having a romantic dinner with candles fluttering in the seabreeze within a few kilometres of each other.
Of course, the downside to this is that some restaurants use the view and location as their main selling point, with the food and service often taking a backseat. It takes a lot to stand out from the crowd.
Bib & Tucker opened over the recent Easter long weekend with considerably more hubbub than the average beachside restaurant, mostly in part to its three famous Olympian owners – Eamon Sullivan, Steve Hooker, and Jamie Dwyer.
Our group of 12 visited on their second day open for Sunday lunch. I know how difficult it is to accommodate large groups of diners, so they definitely get some props for getting us seating right away, and being generally quite easy-going with our group arriving at different times over half an hour.
It’s a gorgeous spot, perched above the surf life saving club with floor-to-ceiling windows, ensuring every patron gets a damn fine view of the ocean. Thankfully, Leighton Beach is yet untouched by the din and commercialization that you see at the other beaches nearby, so there’s a nice feeling of space and breathing room that you don’t really get at say, Il Lido in Cottlesloe.
We were presented with an all-day Easter weekend brunch menu, a condensed version of offerings from their regular breakfast and lunch menu. At first glance, it comes across a fairly standard cafe menu with the usual offerings (bruschetta, eggs benedict, banana bread, fish and chips, etc) with a few stand-outs here and there. I’d previously read about their wood-fired pizza oven (although everyone seems to be doing wood-fired these days) and custom-built grill and rotisserie, so I definitely knew I’d had to try something that showed them off.
Since sharing is caring, L and I opted to choose a dish each and split the two between us. We had their Rotisserie Chermoula Chicken with farro, pumpkin & house harissa ($28) as well as their Fig, Pancetta & Gorgonzola pizza ($23). I particularly liked the flavours on the chicken dish – wholesome and elegant, with a bit of a twist – although I would have preferred if the chicken was served a little hotter than it was. The fig & blue cheese pizza is a combination that will work every time, although I felt that they were a little stingy on the figs (then again, I am a bit of a fig-junkie).
I was a little caffeined-out from the weekend, so didn’t order any coffee for myself, although plenty at the table did. Alas, the coffee didn’t look that great on presentation and my coffee “snob” friend T found them lacking in flavour.
All in all, despite little hiccups with the meals, all of us left feeling somewhat underwhelmed by the experience. I cannot deny that they’re serving up good food there (their head chef is the ex-sous chef from Rockpool), but there were no jaw-dropping “thisissoooogood” moments that make one feel like they must return soon. While the service was mostly efficient, the staff didn’t come off as friendly, or made you feel particularly welcome – perhaps due to opening nerves. Ladies will enjoy their view of Eamon Sullivan standing at the pass, but I think the customers would have appreciated it more if he had made an effort to have a little walk around the restaurant for a quick check/chat with tables to see how they were doing.
The fit-out is pretty bang-on, with a gorgeous long bar and communal tables with bright green and blue wooden chairs that look like they’re straight out of a beach house. Yet… There’s something that feels gimmicky about it. In one of the articles covering the opening, Eamon Sullivan is quoted as saying that he’s “never spent so much money making things look old” – and I think that might be one of the things that annoys me. There’s an emphasis on how it’s a laid-back relaxed location serving up simple food using “medieval cooking techniques”, but with a rotisserie that costs $100,000 in full view of everyone, I don’t see anything medieval or laid-back about it at all.
Bib & Tucker is a nice new spot on the Perth waterfront dining scene that I’m sure will do very well, and I certainly will return (perhaps to try their dinner menu). But less is more, Bib & Tucker, so go easy on the gimmicks and let the food and service speak for themselves.
Food/drinks – 7/10
Service/ambience – 6/10
Leighton Beach Boulevard, North Fremantle
(08) 9433 2147