“THE roof looks like a giant evaporative air-conditioner!”
That was my initial reaction as I walked towards the new WA Museum Boola Bardip at the Perth Cultural Centre.
I was probably being a bit harsh, and the architecture began to grow on me as we walked up the huge limestone concourse towards the entrance.
My wife and I were going for lunch at the new museum cafe Epoch – a minimalist affair with jet-black tables, natural stonework and muted tones.
It wouldn’t look out of place in a Bauhaus exhibition at PICA, but I liked the understatement and lack of pretension.
The cafe was pumping on Wednesday lunchtime with a longish queue of people waiting to order at the counter.
There was a “Grab and Go” display cabinet with sausage rolls, pies, filled rolls, quiche and tarts, as well as a menu with a nice range of light summer dishes.
For those wanting something more substantial there was also meals like grass-fed beef burger and chips, and blue swimmer crab and saffron linguine.
Epoch was so busy we struggled to secure a table inside, but after a bit of exploration we found a spot in the alfresco courtyard.
It was a lovely shaded enclave with views of the stunning golden staircase contrasting with the heritage buildings outside.
It wasn’t long before the waitress arrived with my grilled shio koji chicken salad ($26), which was beautifully presented on a handmade plate.
The star of the dish was the tangerine vinaigrette; adding a lovely citrus burst to the thick slices of tender chargrilled chicken.
The quinoa and assorted seeds added some texture, with the avocado and charred green onions keeping things nice and moist.
Usually if I get a chicken salad, I often ask “Where’s the chicken?”, but in this case I wanted to know who absconded with the salad.
There was a distinct lack of greens on the plate and I felt the dish needed more leaves and less protein. It was a delicious fragrant dish, but for $26 I wanted a couple more ingredients to make it well-rounded and filling.
Across the table my wife was nibbling her beautifully presented tomato tart ($18).
“It’s a nice summer dish with a tasty chickpea filling and light pastry shell,” she said.
“The goat’s curd is a lovely salty diversion and complements the juicy tomatoes and olive oil dressing. My only complaint – for $18 it’s not big enough.”
The cafe sells tea and coffee and is licensed with a small range of wines and beers, but we were happy with some spring water ($3) and Capi grapefruit juice ($4) from the fridge.
The service was good with the waitress asking if our food was okay and if we wanted some water, so brownie points on that front.
Epoch’s food was high quality and well presented, but I felt the price was a bit high for the portions we got.
The setting is lovely and it’s a pleasant pitstop after looking at fossils for hours on end.
WA Museum Boola Bardip Perth Cultural Centre
Open seven days
by STEPHEN POLLOCK