Thursday, December 16, 2010

Greenhouse, Perth

“The Greenhouse is about designing and operating better places for people. Places that let us touch natural materials, understand where everyday things come from and taste fresh food straight from the garden... The Greenhouse aims to harness the growing understanding of the human footprint to offer alternative solutions that tread a fine balance between functionality, sustainability and beauty.” 
- you can read more about the concept behind the Greenhouse and it’s eco-friendly construction from their website

The Head Chef, Matt Stone received the 2011 Gourmet Traveller Best New Talent and the 2011 Good Food Guides Best Young Chef awards this year.

In spite of all of this acclaim, it appears to have received mixed reviews. I like to read up on a place before I check it out. On Urbanspoon, an average of 46% like it and many users presented critical reviews. However, most Perth blogs (see AbstractGourmet, HoldtheBeef, nook & cranny, Tannic Teeth, Perth Food Engineers) have given positive reviews of the Greenhouse. 

So what’s the deal? 

The Greenhouse was highly anticipated and attracted a lot of attention before it opened and still continues to attract a lot of attention for its ‘concept’ so people generally go in with some pretty ‘high’ expectations. When you rock up to the Greenhouse, you cannot help but be impressed by its wall of little strawberry pots, rooftop vegetable garden and very street decor. One of the things that I really like about the Greenhouse is how it has used recycled materials. Old street signs have been reconstructed into chairs. All dishes are brought out on a mis-mash of plates which makes me think of a sharehouse situation where the collection of dishes have been derived from the Salvos or through years of changing housemates. It’s quite unique and something that has never been done before in Perth. The food is simple, fresh and tastes great but it does not have the same ‘wow’ factor as the setting and design of the restaurant. 

Expectations play an enormous part in our experience of food. Over expectations generally lead to disappointments. Having lower or no expectations can create more satisfaction as we approach things with a less critical mindset and accept it for what it is.

I suffered the phenomenon of over expectation when I watched the movie Inception earlier this year. I had heard so much about Inception being the most amazing movie ever and I did enjoy the movie but I just didn’t think that it was as good as everyone made it out to be. I felt that it was a great concept, but the execution was sometimes flat. I also think that I didn’t appreciate it as much as I could have because I went into the cinema with some great expectations which it didn’t live up to. 

I went into the Greenhouse with mixed expectations formed from favourable blog reviews and a barely passable score on Urbanspoon. It made me a bit confused on what to expect but I was alert to the possibilities and would also not be alarmed by disappointments. 

My first experience of eating at the Greenhouse was only a recent endeavour. Funnily enough, it was about a week after the first episode of Iron Chef Australia where Matt Stone battled it out with Neil Perry. I was organizing to catch up with a friend for breakfast and as we were discussing options I insisted on going to the Greenhouse so that I could finally have an opportunity to check it out. Ever since I heard about the Greenhouse it has been on my list of places to check out but I have never gotten around to it. 

We booked a table just in case it was busy on a Saturday morning but when we got there it wasn’t to full so we had a choice of where to sit. We decided to sit outside to enjoy the sunshine.
(This was my seat)

After mulling over the menu for a while I finally settled on the charred toast, jamon, roast tomato & goats curd and my friend had the crushed peas & basil, poached eggs & toast. The elements of my dish went together really well and my friend’s report on her poached eggs were good and the combination of the peas with a subtle hint of basil were a perfect match.

We had a very enjoyable meal at the Greenhouse. The food satisfies. We received great service and I am especially thankful that the waitress noticed bird shit on our table and cleaned it up for us because we weren’t aware of it. I’m sure we would have found out at some point, but how, I don’t know, we averted a possible unfortunate incident. 

The best thing about the Greenhouse it that Perth owns it! Yes, the concept is by Melbourne’s Joost Baker and Melbourne did briefly flirt with it but Perth took it to third base and established it as a successful venture. Perth is proving to be a city which people can invest in and take risks. Now there will be a Melbourne Greenhouse opening next year and I love how all the media is saying that Melbourne is ‘replicating’ Perth’s Greenhouse. Yes, REPLICATING!

Perth, the city that always seems to be a bit behind on the times and slow to embrace hip and happening things is coming out in front. At the moment, quite a few peeps are opening new establishments, creating not only more choice and diversity in Perth but also places with a point of difference. These are exciting times. Keep it up Perth!

Greenhouse on Urbanspoon


  1. Great review. I also am taken back to sharehouse days when I see this type of crockery in restaurants. I get all nostalgic. Luckily the food here is better than a lot of sharehouses I've visited over the years, and they seem to be able to keep the fridge stocked with milk.

    Agree about the problem of having high expectations too, and this is probably a good reason why I should get off my arse and to go new places more often so I'm not building them up in my mind too much before getting there.

  2. Thanks :) I am pretty bad with checking out new places too. I only just went to the Greenhouse a few weeks ago. Also have a lot of other Perth places on my wishlist.

    It's pretty hard not to build up expectations when you are a foodie, read a lot of food blogs and follow twitter foodies!