I went to Perth for a week between Christmas and New Year to see family and friends, and while I was there I had a delicious dinner at Blake’s cafe on the quiet Blake St in North Perth. I’d read about Riki Caspi’s cafe in a gourmet food magazine while waiting for my flight to Perth, and mentally filed away the name and address as it sounded promising. On my way to the beach on Saturday morning I drove past, was surprised to find them open, so stopped and had a good coffee and read the menu, which features middle eastern flavours.
Later that day I organised with two friends to go out for dinner and made a booking at Blake’s. They only do dinner on Saturday nights – otherwise it is a breakfast and lunch cafe. They were happy for the booking as they said they had plenty of tables but when we arrived they were full! I was evidently not the only person to be thankful something was open in sleepy Perth between between Christmas and New Year. Saturday nights also feature live jazz, which makes the small cafe loud, lively and lots of fun.
We shared the Israeli plate of dips, chickpeas, cheese, carrot salad and chicken skeweres for entree, which came with various breads. Delicious.
One friend ordered the cous cous, which came with spiced sausages, a lamb chop, a sauce with broad beans and a separate bowl of vegetable soup.
My other friend ordered the seafood and salad. Both dishes were beautifully prepared.
I chose the Moroccan chicken with a wonderful sauce including preserved lemon, cous cous and spinach. The serves were all very generous and good value for the price (approx $31 to $33). The service was friendly and quite quick given how busy they were (though one of our party knew one of the waitresses so this may not be objective).
The service, ambiance and food were very good and I enjoyed my visit. The one question I have is about the pricing. The menu notes that there is a 10% surcharge on Saturdays. Dinner is only done on Saturdays. So why not build the extra wage costs into the meals so the cost to the diner is less complicated and more transparent?
Further pricing complexity arises due to corkage. As an unlicensed cafe Blake’s is BYO, and corkage is $3 per person. I’d forgotten how annoying this is. It’s not the customer’s fault the liquor licencing rules are archaic and a cafe can’t get a licence to sell alcohol (at inflated prices). Deciding to charge the customer anyway just for having a drink is something I really hate.
At Blake’s our $17 Happs fuschia (a rich dryish Margaret River rose) became a $26 bottle. I suppose this is not as bad as the markup at many licenced restaurants. At Mon Ami in Fitzroy, for example, a $10 bottle of Miranda high country merlot sells for about $8 a glass. Blake’s offers reasonable value for money given these issues but the food is excellent, and they earn appreciation for being open when many other places were closed. They’re worth seeking out.