When it came to Railway Parade newcomer Besk – a warehouse-style public house, kitchen and bottle shop – I was completely in the dark. With no online menu to study or Instagram food photos to investigate, I’m flying blind. I can enjoy the element of surprise for the first time in a long time. It’s exciting and admittedly, a little unnerving.
Across the train tracks from the almost-demolished Subiaco Oval, the old printers in West Leederville doesn’t feel like your typical pub, and it isn’t. Co-Owner, Architect Ben Braham, has brought a modern feel that blends old with new seamlessly. The vast space of exposed bricks, polished concrete, an original pressed tin ceiling and metal beams is as inviting as the friendly folks behind the bar.
I’m glad I take the initiative to book a table. Even on a dreary mid-week lunchtime the place is heaving. It’s full bar service, with the constantly evolving drinks menu found on TV screens at the bar.
If nothing tickles your fancy on the screens, chat to the knowledgeable and enthusiastic bar staff or browse the shelves in the adjoining bottle shop. Think of this as an extension of the wine and beer list. Here you can essentially buy a bottle and BYO. There’s a lot of choice, with WA essentials, boutique offerings (like Pinot from the Grampians), and drops especially made for Besk.
I enjoy a crisp house Semillon Verdejo made for Besk by Dormilona – perfect for pairing with seafood.
Chef picks a Stone and Wood Pacific ale from the craft beers on tap. The small Byron Bay brewery part-owned by shark boxer Mick Fanning and fellow surfer Joel Parkinson, is an easy-drinking bevvy – even for a non-beer drinker like me. I notice Chef holding onto his glass very tightly.
The menu is small, with fifteen easily shareable dishes – from a tiny bowl of olives, to hummus with fresh baguette (baked by neighbours Mary Street Bakery) working up to a larger “rotisserie of the day”. There’s a focus on seasonal produce, so if it’s not found on a tree or in the ground locally, then you’re not likely to see it on the Besk menu.
We start with salty, warm green olives ($6) a perfect accompaniment to craft beer.
Authentic pulled beef empanadas ($5 each) are handmade by their Brazilian chef.
The grilled cheese ($25) is a must-try. A triangular chunk of Greek saganaki cheese is grilled until gloriously crisp and golden, topped with a generous serve of charred WA prawns, a rich tomato sugo and wedge of lemon.
I turn accidentally vegan with the smoked beets dish ($15). Sweet roasted baby beetroot sit on a generous smear of soft cashew nut cheese, along with a little herb cream and frisee lettuce. A surprisingly delicious combo.
There’s not a lot of hearty meat-based dishes on the menu, other than steak or fish and chips. Chef opts for the scotch fillet ($36) served with herby café de Paris butter, a pickled vegetable and herb salad, and seasoned chips. Chef’s bottom lip drops a little, as he discovers the scotchie is off the menu. A flank steak is offered, as well as a $10 discount. After he polishes off the steak, he admits it’s still a well-cooked and tender bit of meat.
We order all the desserts. To be fair, there are just two on the menu, as well as a selection of cheese. A twist on lemon and blueberry cheesecake, made with nuts and coconut cream, caters for our vegan friends.
A chocolate terrine, though most probably set in a terrine dish, is not a terrine. To me, terrines (meat based or otherwise) are lots of components pressed and set together, then cut into a slice. A sort of cross-section of many tasty things. This “terrine” was simply made of milk chocolate. Like a square of rich, very thick, chocolate mousse. While tasty enough served with cream and macerated cherries, it is slightly gritty and a little underwhelming.
Besk is a brilliant local to pull up a stool and discover boutique wines and beers without an ounce of pretension. An eclectic drinks programme by co-owner Elliot Moore, of Mane Liquor, is innovative. The food is far from pub grub, and I’d love to see something a little more substantial on the menu. Besk is well worth jumping on the train for.
Besk West Leederville – At a Glance
264 Railway Parade
Phone 6319 2290
■ Opening times
10am till late
value for money 4
■ Style – Modern Australian,
mainly share plates.
■ Wine – a little of everything,
natural wines from Europe, and boutique
drops from all around Australia.
■ Head Chef – Shannon Wilson
■ Owners – Elliot Moore and Ben Braham
■ Feel – relaxed and comfortable
■ Wheelchair access – Yes
Plates – $5 to $36
Dessert – $10 to $12.50
■ All in all – a welcoming local
bar/eatery, where the food and
drink menus challenge the tastebuds
with interesting offerings.
Get more info on the Besk West Leederville website.