Having a ball

THE Voice’s unofficial Jewish food tour continued with a trip to Satchmo Cafe in North Perth.

Situated on the corner of Forrest and Fitzgerald Streets, the cafe is opposite North Perth Plaza on a busy little stretch with lots of traffic and pedestrians.

Peering through the cafe’s large bay window on a hot day, I noticed there was a “Ko-Ko Mode Unisex Hair Design” across the road, prompting me to consider if the term “unisex” was now redundant in this post-gender age. Hmm…

Satchmo Cafe was an ode to kitsch with an old-school illuminated menu board, and booths with blue formica tabletops and buttercup yellow sugar bowls. The formica whisked me back to my childhood in the 1970s – a land of flares and Nana Mouskouri. 

Playing away in the background was smooth guitar jazz and there was a little stack of records available to buy in the corner.

It was a laid-back vibe and the staff were pretty chilled and friendly too, making the whole experience a relaxing affair.

Billed as traditional Jewish cuisine with New Orleans flair, Satchmo was opened in 2015 by mother and son team Benedikte and Nathan Karnovsky, who wanted to bring a little bit of N’awlins cuisine to Perth.

Named after legendary New Orleans trumpeter and singer Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, who was apparently raised by a Karnovsky, the menu aims to reflect the cafe owners’ Jewish heritage and their love of New Orleans music and food.

There was certainly an element of “soul food” to the menu with dishes including Louisiana Gumbo, Buffalo fried chicken sandwich with a side of watermelon, Reuben Sandwich, Blintzes and Meatball Hoagie, as well as a lot of breakfast and lunch bagels and the odd dish like balsamic roasted mushrooms.

But I couldn’t resist ordering the traditional Jewish classic  – Mamma’s Matzoball Soup ($18).

As I waited for my meal to arrive, I sipped on a watermelon juice ($7) which was a bit disappointing to be honest.

It was slightly syrupy and tasted stock and I wish they there had been some cold pressed juices on offer instead. The cafe was pretty busy on a Tuesday lunchtime with a mix of Jewish regulars and others meeting up for a relaxing bite to eat in the sun. There was a pavement alfresco as well, giving patrons a range of areas to eat.

It wasn’t long before a staffer was at my table with with steaming Maztoball Soup.

The broth was certainly like something your “Mamma” would make with torn pieces of chicken mingling with hearty chunks of celery and carrot.

Marooned in the middle – like some asteroid that had crash-landed in a lake – was a conspicuous dumpling.

It was different from the fluffy ones you would get in say a goulash and had a firm texture and was dense – imagine a bread ball Moses might have dunked in the Nile.

At first I struggled with it, but once it absored the broth and really softened up, I began to enjoy the traditional Jewish dumpling, using it as a sort of culinary sponge.

The toasted bagel was enjoyable and the horseradish helped to spice things up between mouthfuls.

I’ve never had Matzoball soup before, so I have no benchmark for comparison, but I enjoyed my virgin outing.

I’ve previously been to Satchmo Cafe and enjoyed their Louisiana Gumbo – a nice medley of crab, prawns and okra soup with a huge wedge of hot cornbread on the side.

That’s perhaps a better dish to start with or their Buffalo chicken sandwich is another winner.

Satchmo Cafe is a curious mix of kitsch decor, Jewish/New Orleans cuisine, and a micro record store/venue, where you can buy LPs and listen to live jazz most weekends. 

The Voice is all for different and local, so it gets the thumbs-up and is well worth a visit.

Satchmo Cafe
410 Fitzgerald Street, North Perth
satchmocafe.com.au 

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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