Rusty Pig, just north of the main Oxford Street dining strip, is a new venture by chef and owner Pete Morgan. His name may ring a bell – Morgan was a contestant on the 2017 season of MasterChef. He has since earned his chef’s whites as part of the Wildflower kitchen team, as well as working with acclaimed chef and new MasterChef Judge, Jock Zonfrillo at Adelaide’s Restaurant Orana.
At Rusty Pig there’s a back-to-basics feel, with walls stripped to the bricks, primitive cooking methods and minimalist menus. Rather than being pigeonholed into a certain style or cuisine, Morgan says that he likes to simply cook good food over the open fire.
Cooking with fire can be mighty unpredictable, but well worth the reward when done right. The smoky, charred notes that the flame gives everything it licks is just so delicious.
The small eatery is bathed in smoky aromas, and old-school jazzy tunes. Whole chickens hang cooking above the grill. The bar, overlooking the fire grill, is a popular place to dine at the intimate twenty five seat venue.
Rusty Pig’s drinks list is petite to say the least, with nine interesting Aussie wines, an Italian prosecco and a rose. I sip a dry and fruity Dancing in the Sun Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, from the acclaimed Cullen winery in Margaret River.
A fire baked sourdough loaf ($8) is basted with lamb fat, taking on deep, meaty flavours and served topped with confit garlic cloves, perfect for squishing into the fresh bread. A garlic bread for carnivores, if you will. So simple and so good.
We’re big fans of ribs – any kind that we can get our hands on. Though we have never come across corn ribs ($10) on our dining travels. These vegetarian-friendly morsels are cobs, cut into chunky lengths. The “ribs” are much easier to eat – and sexier – than a full corn on the cob. The grilled corn ribs are spiced with an Indian chaat masala, lashings of melted butter and a squeeze of charred lemon.
Succulent chicken ($24), cooked above the flames for three to four hours, is served with charred spring onion and red pepper. The tender chook is adorned with crisp chicken crackling.
Mottainai lamb, is said to be the wagyu of the lamb world, with its 35% fat marbling. Raised in Lancelin, the Mottainai lambs’ are fed on organic, misshapen carrots, fresh carrot tops, and sedimentary extra-virgin olive oil from neighbouring farms. This makes for a unique sweet and buttery lamb flavour. The perfectly pink lamb leg ($29) is served with a sweet smoked date, macadamia dukka, and creamy labneh.
Abrolhos Island baldchin groper ($30) is line caught using a Japanese “Ikejime” spike method, for a fresher fish and better flavour. Dry-aged for a week, it is flavoursome and moist, with crisp edges, served with a sharp fennel and bortaga (cured fish roe) salad, and classic beurre blanc butter sauce.
There’s only one option on the menu and it sounds positively soul warming. Unfortunately, the apple pie with vanilla bourbon ice cream ($12), is not available. So we leave a tad prematurely and with our hunger not 100% tamed. If we had been advised at the onset, we could have squeezed in an extra dish or two.
Service is welcoming, though again, minimal. There is no fancy descriptions of dishes or components as the share plates arrive at the table. This is a shame, because the top notch produce is worth talking about.
There’s no bells and whistles here, just good, honest cooking where each plate enjoys bold, smoky flavours. Rusty Pig is definitely something to squeal about.
Rusty Pig – At a Glance
■ Rusty Pig
1/226 Oxford Street, Leederville
Phone 0417 622 421
■ Opening times
Tue & Wed 6pm to10pm
Thu – Sat 12pm to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm
value for money 4
■ Style – Modern Australian,
woodfired share plates.
■ Wine – a small, but carefully
curated list of Australian wines.
■ Head Chef/Owner – Pete Morgan
■ Feel – intimate and relaxed
■ Wheelchair access – No
Plates – $8 – $30
Dessert – $12
■ All in all – a welcoming little
eatery, where the well-priced food
is cooked expertly over flame.