Little Creatures is as Freo as fish ‘n chips or the Dockers. New spot Helm, previously Creatures NextDoor, has an entirely different feel to its beer-hall neighbour. Helm is named for the buildings distinct architecture, evocative of a large ship’s bridge, as the building was designed in the 1980’s for the America’s Cup.
This light and bright bar-restaurant overlooks the bustling Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour, we could be sitting on a cruiser. The décor isn’t so much “Love Boat” as it is cruise chic, with low key, neutral décor leading my eye out to the water view.
As dazzling rays of late afternoon light shine straight into the dinning space, through the huge windows, we shuffle around our circular booth to avoid the glare. Soon enough though, we enjoy a glorious sunset. There’s plenty of choices of where to sit, high tables by the bar, cosy booths, lounging by the window or even alfresco on the balcony.
The coastal, laid back vibe lends well to the kitchen’s focus on quality seasonal produce, with a fresh, Mediterranean feel. On the menu, dishes are cooked over fire and designed to share. There’s even dedicated vegan, vegetarian and coeliac menus that offer a lot of choice. Our waitress asks if we’d like all the food to arrive as it is ready, all together or however else we like.
Cocktails are the name of the game at Helm. A short, but well curated wine list is also on offer, as well as their own Little Creatures range of beers. I enjoy a summery take on the Aperol Spritz – the delicious Aperol Twist, a lip smacking concoction of gin, prosecco and aperol, served with strawberries.
The cocktail is perfectly paired with freshly shucked oysters ($4.50 each) with a mignonette sauce and squeeze of lemon. Looking at that view with an oyster in one hand and a cocktail in the other is what summer in Fremantle should be all about.
A plate of serrano ham, bresaola, prosciutto and a scattering of caperberries ($12) goes down a treat with a little house-made focaccia on the side.
Silky flesh of fire roasted eggplant ($18), is topped with jewels of sweet pomegranate and mint. Crunch comes from walnuts and crispy fried shallots on this winning veggie dish.
Several seafood dishes catch my eye, Abrolhos Island scallops, Cloudy Bay clams, but none more so than the tempting grilled Albany mackerel ($34). The fillets are served lustrous silver-skin up, and sit upon sliced green and heirloom tomatoes. A creamy, though mild, chili sauce finishes this summery dish.
Pillow-soft potato gnocchi ($26) is served with plump broad beans, peas, and liberal shavings of sottocenere, an Italian-style truffle cheese. A seagull watches us intently with a beady eye from the window. They’ll be no leftovers for him. While our dishes are delicious, it’s not all plain sailing – the portions are on the small-side.
This is most telling with the 12 hour arkady lamb shoulder, served with goats curd, mint and capers. Although it’s perfectly cooked and packed with charred, meaty flavours, for $36, there just isn’t enough of it. Sharing with Chef, we get just a few bites each.
Still a bit peckish, I devour the strawberry semifreddo ($16), with meringue and popping candy. The desserts are beautifully plated and a little more generous in size.
Thank goodness for Chef, who knows how to pronounce the rich chocolate “cremeux” ($17), saving me from embarrassment. A velvety chocolate custard-like cremeux is served with scrumptious peanut butter mousse and crunchy wattle seed brittle.
Helm Fremantle is a welcome addition to the casual seafood cafes of the Fishing Boat Harbour. Here you can sit back and enjoy the view with a drink in hand and don’t have to shoo the pesky seagulls away from your share plates. Service is attentive and helpful. If the kitchen beefs up their portion sizes, we’d absolutely drop anchor at Helm again.
Helm Fremantle At a Glance
Upstairs, 42 Mews Rd
Phone 6215 1063
■ Opening times
7 Days – 11.30am until late
value for money 3
■ style – Mediterranean
■ wine – Extensive drinks list focusing on cocktails. Interesting wines, beers and spirits are also on offer.
■ Head Chef – Mathew Powell
■ Owner – Lion
■ feel – a fresh, inviting coastal space
■ wheelchair access – yes
Share $6 – $38
Dessert $16 – $17
■ all in all – A shiny, new Mediterranean spot, which has a fresh focus on WA produce, top notch drinks and a stunning view over the Fishing Boat Harbour.