Fancy pants plus sneakers
Picture: Iain Gillespie/The West Australian.

If you are a TV watcher then you might appreciate this analogy: husband Stavros is a Storage Wars kind of guy and I'm a House of Cards kind of girl and ne'er the twain shall meet.

One is a tacky (sorry) reality show about the storage unit equivalent of kerb-crawlers fighting over abandoned car parts and reproduction medieval armour, the other is a chilling drama about a dangerously ambitious, Machiavellian politician and his arguably more evil wife.

I am not suggesting one of us is more intelligent than the other because of our viewing choices - we just have different tastes. But then along came True Detective, an intelligent, tightly wound suspense that we both enjoy watching - together.

Which brings me to this: West End Deli is the True Detective of dining. I'm not saying it's decorated with creepy deep south devil nests fashioned from sticks, or that there is anything remotely Gothic or sinister about it - quite the contrary. West End Deli wears very fancy foodie pants to please the likes of me but might occasionally team them with Vans to keep the likes of him happy. Does that make sense?

It's a comely, inner-suburban neighbourhood diner offering mostly local produce cooked with skill and precision by chef Justin Peters and professional but far-from-up-itself service that will not repel - indeed that may excite - the un-fancy, non-foodie fellas (and ladies) out there.

And let's lay this gem on the table early on: West End Deli is BYO. Corkage is $3.50 per person. What's more is that on Wednesday and Thursday night, it's two courses for $40. Hurrah.

West End Deli, when one of my besties lived down the road, was a soul-soothing old corner shop vending greasy sandwiches known for their hangover-curing properties. In its current incarnation this place is just as comforting but much classier. The bestie was my date on a mid-week night. We were immediately made welcome, and seated at a cosy window table in a room moodily lit by funky Edison-style globes.

Booze poured, bestie accidentally knocked her fork to the floor. Before she could convince me she'd done it deliberately to test staff attentiveness, a charming Scot with an earlobe spacer and a neat hairdo was tableside, clean fork in hand. He took our orders - small but super-fresh oysters of unknown provenance with a selection of the only condiments we deem necessary (black pepper, sea salt, lemon juice, vinaigrette, tabasco) and our picks from the small card.

An "ocean trout tarte" was fresh and pretty but the mix of textures overwhelmed the delicate trout. Impressive beetroot smear, though.

We swooned over a ricotta gnocchi, olive, caper, mushroom, spinach, which was pasta (it's potato!) perfection. The pillows were beautifully pan-seared and the flavours on song.

For mains, a piece of sweet barramundi had masterfully crisped skin and silken flesh complemented by a peck of perky pickled peppers (OK, not quite a peck) and olives. A confit chicken leg, corn, mushroom mousseline read like a make-or-break dish.

Duck's the more common confit bird because it's fattier but this chook was a revelation: the flesh was molten and not at all dry and the outside layer had a lovely bite to it from the long slow lard bath. For the corny accompaniment: take everything you know about creamed corn and banish it from your mind. This was a-maize-ing (boom boom). The mushroom mousseline was akin to a parfait and begged to be gobbled quickly to avoid melting. A side of green beans, chilli and mint ($8) was generous, bitey and fresh.

The dessert card is brief - three at $15 including a black forest gateau. Full of beans, we passed. Our waiter expressed no concern at our desire to just sit and chat - he encouraged it, stopping by occasionally to fill our glasses. Much better than a night in front of the telly.

West End Deli

Address 95 Carr Street, West Perth

Phone 9328 3605

Open Tuesday to Sunday, 7am-3pm, dinner from 6pm until late on Wednesday-Saturday

The buzz Fabulous and friendly but not too-cool-for-school neighbourhood eatery you'll wish was walking distance from your joint. It's BYO wine, champagne and beer.


The West Australian

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