Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cafe Villa, Leederville

I was hungry and didn't want fast food.  After a bit of thought, Cafe Villa came to mind.  I hadn't been to Cafe Villa for some time and I heard it's been pretty good of late.

Cafe Villa is situated on Oxford Street, in the busy part of the Leederville cafe strip.  It's usually fairly busy during peak hours and offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Cafe Villa is a Gold Plate finalist and has been a mainstay of Leederville for some years now.  The food served for lunch/dinner includes pasta, salads and modern style cafe mains.  Not to mention on the lunch/dinner menu there is an "all day big breakfast fry up" consisting of fried eggs, bacon, hash browns, chipolatas and tomato served on toast" for $19.90.  But no, I'm here for dinner.

Looking through the menu, the pricing averages $20-30 for a main course which is pretty reasonable for a Leederville cafe.  The menu also happens to mention that during busy periods there may be a 30 minute wait for meals.  Given I was pretty hungry, it was lucky I went on a moderately busy evening where the food didn't take 30 minutes to come out.   I wouldn't like to see what it's like when it gets busy then - especially if I'm starving.

To match its name, Cafe Villa has created a warm environment decorated with indoor green plants, outdoorsy chairs, and warm lighting.  The atmosphere is relaxed and quite casual with a slight Mediterranean feel, and includes an al fresco area at the front overlooking the buzzing part of Leederville.  However, as it was a really hot summer day in (at times) really hot Perth I opted to sit inside - lucky they have air conditioning even though it was evaporative.

Garlic Bread - $6

The garlic bread came out as big and reasonably thick slices of crusty bread coated on both sides with a garlic and herb butter.  Biting into the garlic bread showed the butter had soaked into about half of the bread.  Nice.  Provided you're not going to be speaking to or kissing anyone important afterwards the garlic bread is pretty tasty as far as cafe garlic bread is concerned.

Calamari with lemon pepper and aioli (medium) - $18

The calamari was dusted with a lemon pepper coating before being fried.  Alone, even without the aioli, the calamari already was tasty (due to the seasoned coating) and had a slight crunch to it.  The aioli gave the calamari the creamy sauce flavour that is often done with tartare sauce.  Aoili. More garlic.  The well made calamari with the aoili tasted good though.

The salad served with the calamari included gourmet lettuce, rocket, spanish onion, cucumber, carrot, tomatoes and a light dressing.

Spiced Pork Belly Confit - $29

The pork belly came out with a "sweet-spiced glaze" and was served with "house-made apple chutney" and on a base of congee.  Quite a different combination that I haven't seen before.

Being pork belly, this was perhaps never going to be the healthiest dish but as far as pork belly goes it was cooked just right and was not dry.  The pork skin was lightly crunchy, but not as much as a well prepared pork crackling - perhaps due to the sweet-spiced glaze.  The only issue was that once the pork skin made contact with the congee, it lost the crunch.  Taste-wise though, as the pork belly was cooked right it retained its natural flavour.

The serve of apple chutney that was placed on top of the pork belly was generous and added flavour to the pork belly.  The chutney had a mildly sweet and fruity taste to it that gave a slightly refreshing feel that accompanied the pork well without the sometimes excessive sweetness that some plum sauces served with pork give.  However, as the serving of chutney was generous, with excessive chutney it tended to cover the pork flavour a tad more than it should, and the sauce at times could be a slight bit sour at times for my liking (most likely due to the apples).  Overall though the flavours were good and a nice combination, being served at a cafe.

The bed of congee was an interesting concept for a modern cafe.  The congee had a good consistency and was lightly flavoured and had a touch of ginger.  By itself, the congee was a slight bit too bland to be served as a restaurant meal.  However, coupled with the pork belly and the generous sauce the congee complimented the dish well, being a welcome neutral addition to the otherwise heavier tastes and flavours of the pork belly and apple chutney.

In summary, Cafe Villa is a pretty decent cafe.  It's priced well within the modern cafe crowd but offers some interesting dishes that are well thought out and executed.  And then there's the location factor where you can choose to stay put or move along to many other venues like coffee shops, book and specialty stores or to the local pub.

Points of note: Not just your typical cafe menu.  Service may be slow when they are busy.

Go for: Reasonably good cafe food, in a happening area.

Cafe Villa

Corner of Oxford and Newcastle Streets
Leederville, WA 6007
(08) 9242 1554
Trading Hours
7 days: 7:30am till late

Cafe Villa on Urbanspoon

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