PETER MORGAN is onto something special with his new Leederville restaurant Rusty Pig.
Inside it’s quite tight and narrow, but there is ample dining space including a long bar where punters can enjoy a meal and a drink while watching Morgan, the head chef and owner, in action.
The MasterChef alumni has nailed the KISS principle by limiting his menu to 10 stylish and sophisticated dishes, including one chicken ($24), lamb ($29), pork ($26) and fish ($30) option.
The other woodfired vegetable offerings could be described as side dishes, but they’re big enough to be a meal on their own.
I can’t recommend the playfully named corn ribs ($10) enough.
Sliced corn cobs are grilled and then tossed in chaat masala, a street-food spice blend that’s hot and salty with a subtle sourness.
As I wolfed the ribs down I congratulated Morgan on such an incredible dish, which he credits to his previous employer at an Adelaide restaurant.
I anticipated another small starter when I ordered the broccoli ($14), but it was big enough to feed a small nation.
A big glazed bowl is layered with tangy greek yoghurt, a nutty ginger and sesame sauce and huge slices of crunchy grilled broccoli.
Crowning the dish is some dainty, deep-fried broccoli florets, providing a fine crunch.
The broccoli’s smokey flavour sent my senses into overdrive and I would have clubbed anyone who tried to take this dish off me before I finished.
I’d consider turning vegetarian if someone served me these two sensational starters every day.
Woodfire ovens were designed for meat, and my time at Rusty Pig would have felt wasted if I hadn’t succumbed to my primal temptations and tried one of the meat dishes.
The Mottainai lamb comes from a coastal farm near Lancelin, and is mostly fed excess carrot stock from a vegetable farm next door.
Morgan proudly describes the lamb to me as being the Wagyu of the sheep world – characterised by its unique fat content.
The slab of prime lamb broke apart with the slightest touch of my fork and was juicy and tender.
The dish is simply served with a rich red wine jus and a quenelle of silky, six-hour-hung labneh, topped with a smoked date.
Adding texture to the meat is a generous sprinkle of macadamia dukkah.
To say I was in my element at Rusty Pig would be an understatement.
It’s not everyday you get to sit so close to the action while having a celebrated head chef generously explain his produce and technique to you as he prepares your meal.
I couldn’t have left any happier and neither will you.
1/226 Oxford St, Leederville
0417 622 421