A fresh crop of new venues has opened over the last few months - Gail Williams
pays a visit to Subi’s new kids on the block.
Diversity, thy name is Subiaco. When it comes to hanging out in Subi there’s plenty of venue choices in which to down your particular poison – from cocktails to fruit smoothies. I go into town to meet a few of the new kids on the block adding health, sophistication and a bit of grunge to their ‘hood.
Gerry and Renata Downing from Pupa Fast Nutrition
162 Rokeby Road
There are some groovy buzz words rolling off the tongues of Rokeby Road regulars. “Supercharged. Sweet and filling. Packed with protein. Bliss”.
And these people aren't talking about cocktails. Although, with names like Blue Lagoon, Malteser Pleaser and Peanut Butter Delight, they could well be reeling off the drinks list of their local bar.
No, these seductive bliss bombs are offering a natural high. And they’re on the menu at Pupa Fast Nutrition, Subiaco’s new haven for health fiends who pop in to the light, bright spot for a post-workout bevvy.
Customers are met with a warm welcome by husband-and-wife team Gerry and Renata Downing, who recently opened Pupa (Renata’s childhood nickname) to fulfil their dream of working together in their own business.
Wearing crisp striped linen aprons, the duo man a couple of huge blenders that mix up slap-in-your-face rocket fuel drinks to kickstart the day. Throw in recyclable cups and biodegradable straws and you’ll want to polish your halo on the way out.
The idea to open a smoothie and juice bar came about when catering to the protein rich diet of their daughter, Sacha, while she was in training for the Australian junior swimming team.
The Downings and their elder daughter, Brighton, fell in love with Subiaco 16 years ago after emigrating from South Africa. When the prime spot became available on Rokeby Road they jumped at the chance to contribute to the local community.
Gerry gave up his career as a mechanical engineer and walked straight into the role of smoothie king while Renata became the queen of tea.
“We both thrive on interaction with people,” says Renata. “It’s like anything - you just have to give it a go.”
Giving it a go, too, are the customers who have acquired a thirst for a daily Chocoholic, Mango Tango or Caramel Kiss – all made with ice, water and no milk. The drinks are also low in fat, sugar and calories while delivering up to 25g of protein.
Stevia, the sugar substitute used in the drinks, has no carbohydrates, calories, or artificial ingredients.
Strawberries and Cream features frozen berries but fruit drops add the intense flavours to drinks like the Mango Tango and Banana Bread.
Loaded teas – which sell for $10 – use a green or black tea base and contain cold-pressed aloe vera and guarana, a natural source of caffeine.
Those who live for the promise of plump, glowing skin opt for one of three collagen drinks.
Sports presenter and Subi resident, Adrian Barich, instantly fell in love with an orange-based Green and Gold tea which was on the menu for the recent Olympics.
And one of Australia’s most recognised gymnasts, Emily Little, who won gold in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, is another regular as well as open water swimmer Jamie Bowler.
All have welcomed the Downings with open arms.
“We were surprised and impressed at how quickly local residents and businesses made us feel so much at home.” says Renata.
“We love the vibe in Subi. It’s just like a small village and very continental. And from where we are positioned on Rokeby Road, there is a regular passing parade.”
Liliana Aguirre from Accent Cafe Subiaco
292 Hay Street
For the past decade Liliana Aguirre has been splashing colour around with refreshing abandon in Subiaco’s West End – and her neighbours can’t thank her enough.
Those who are familiar with her Multicultural Language Centre are used to occasionally stumbling across the odd flamenco dancer, maracas, piano accordions and the wafting aromas of paella as they wander down Hay Street.
It’s all part of Aguirre’s philosophy of immersing her language students – around 100 a month – in the culture of the country they are studying.
Aguirre, who was born in Mexico but lived in Europe before emigrating to Australia 16 years ago, offers Spanish, Italian and French classes to students.
“When you study a language you don’t just learn the language,” says Aguirre. “It’s about getting to know the culture of that country as well. You get to know that through food, film and music.”
A graduate of the Sorbonne in Cours de Civilisation Francaise and an accomplished interior designer as well as a passionate food lover – with a background in events management – she has now combined all her talents to add even more vibrancy to the precinct.
The paint is still drying and the doors barely opened on Accent, her cafe/restaurant two doors down from the language centre, taking over an old building which has done time as an Indian restaurant and a brasserie.
The 50-seater has lapped up the love and attention and is positively beaming from the enchanted rear courtyard through to its light-filled interior embellished with a check list of European charm. There’s wrought iron, face brick, antique dining tables, chandeliers, wall panels, mirrors, hanging greenery, potted plants, dried flowers and bentwood chairs around cafe style tables – each signifying an aspect of Spain, France or Italy with a nod to Mexico (without the bold colours).
An alfresco area at the front picks up the morning sun and beckons one to linger with a long black. Make that a piccolo, a prana chai or a latte or anything from chef Jonathan Naidoo’s eclectic menu.
“In keeping with the languages we have Spanish, Italian and French cuisine and some Mexican dishes," says Aguirre. "Some have a bit of a twist to them such as a tapas-style brushcetta. I am more familiar with Mexican cuisine so we have things like activated charcoal tortillas. The menu changes seasonally and we are going to introduce ceviche for summer.”
Accent also offers several European wines and is open Monday to Saturday for breakfast and lunch and dinner as well on Friday.
“We are also doing degustation dinners and masterclasses and private events with live music,” says Aguirre. And she loves Subiaco as much as Subiaco seems to love her.
“I love Subi because it has charm,” she says. “It is peaceful, I love the architecture - the Victorian houses and cottages. I love its rusticity and it just feels good.”
Hello Harry, the Burger Joint
1 Rokeby Road
Hello Subiaco! Hello Beer! And, well, Hello Harry!
Who is Harry? That’s the question burger lovers are asking as they flock to Subiaco’s bright new hot spot for a Gluttony Burger of a Fat Bastard challenge.
In fact some of the more edgy customers are asking ... “Who the ... ... is Harry?”
Owner Steven Cluney doesn’t mind the language. In fact, he positively encourages it with the question emblazoned over his black T-shirt as he flips burgers with names like Big Kahuna and Dirty Harry while the tunes bellow over the sound system.
Customers love the vibe and the burgers, washing them all down with a Hello Harry lager or cider on tap.
Cluney has been putting in 15-hour days since opening in August. And that's all worked around his day job as a FIFO worker in Karratha.
He admits it’s all been a huge learning curve taking on the franchise which has locations all around Australia but he has got the burger-making art – from ordering to serving – down to eight minutes exactly.
“I love food but most of my experience with burgers was at backyard barbecues and eating, rather than cooking,” he says.
“But having moved over from Melbourne in 2009 I was always looking for an opportunity to open up something like this.”
When the old Jus Burgers site at the bottom end of Rokeby Road became available Cluney snapped it up with his brother, Ash, standing in when he is up north.
Cluney loves the philosophy of Hello Harry which puts the funk into burgers, so to speak.
But there is a charitable side of the franchise which also appeals.
“We are going to get involved with local sporting clubs, giving prizes and things like that,” he says. “It’s all part of getting involved with the local community.”
According to Cluney, a perfect burger is made with quality fresh ingredients which are sourced locally and with just the right amount of seasoning.
The beef patties are pure mince and are grilled.
“Our brioche buns are made by a local bakery to our own specs,” he says.
And if customers are feeling really peckish, they can always take the Fat Bastard Challenge. That involves polishing off two double-beef patties, double cheese and pickles wedged between brioche in just six minutes.
“If you can do that, you get a free hat,” says Cluney. “We’ve only had one order for that so far and the guy did it in eight minutes.”
And, just for the record, who is Harry again?
He’s the guy with the sunglasses and the nose piercings who is the poster boy for the brand.
And, yes people do ask about him.
Says Cluney: “The response from me is “oh, you just missed him”.