Sunday, 11 August 2013

Lowdown: Here's the Lowdown - They are the duck's nuts

Having frequented Lowdown on multiple occasions before, it was time to articulate my fondness for this mob in an Urbanspoon Review.
The dudes that work down there are the toppest of blokes and second to none in the all-important category of customer service. They are seriously laid back, friendly and have a sense of humour. Exhibit A being the 50c 'douche tax' that sits on the menu that gets a hearty chortle out of me everytime I see it. Luckily I'm yet to be slapped with such a heinous penalty, but I'd imagine it would be tempting to enforce the fine one of the self-important, blue-tooth headset wearing, loud mouthed business people that swarm the area.
My weapon of choice was a double espresso and as per usual they did not disappoint. It was extracted near flawlessly and exhibited a full-bodied flavour that left me purring.
My colleague purchased a short-mac and provided the following insight.
"The warm creamy texture of the milk in conjunction with the nigh-perfect coffee shot was incredibly satisfying", he said. "It was as though the God of Coffee grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, and dripped pure bliss down my gullet with his shiva-like lingum. If I were cleaning my ears with cotton buds at the same time as consuming this delight, I would have blacked out from the pure bliss overload".
18 out of 20. They are the business.

Lowdown on Urbanspoon

Buddha Espresso: Not so enlightening.

It's difficult, sometimes, being a fledgling, up-and-coming coffee reviewer in Perth's CBD. The abundance of choices within close proximity of each other renders competition to attract the precious hard-earned dollars of caffiene-addicted workers, shoppers and coffee-snobs heated.
With a hefty name, a sturdy reputation and girthy presence in Allendale square, Buddha Espresso was in the reviewer's crosshairs today to see whether they could enter the upper-echelon of double-espresso creators in Perth.
Somewhat ironically, the double espresso this reviewer consumed left me somewhat 'unenlightened' and relatively 'unawakened'. Uninspiring, weak and bland wouldn't be an unfair assessment of either Shane Watson's performance at the top of the Australian batting order, or this coffee. Even after referral to the third umpire, the Danny Review System upheld the reviewers initial decision.
If Buddha Espresso was vying for a position in Perth CBDs Top X1, they'd be in for a rude shock as they are going to have to work their way back through the Sunday amateurs.
11 disgruntled and cantankerous Boof-Lehmann's out of a possible 20. I'm all out of faith, this is how I feel. I'm cold and I'm ashamed, lying naked on the floor.

Buddha Espresso on Urbanspoon

Maven Espresso: That's so-so, Maven.

Having read the reviews on Maven, I went in with relatively enchubbened expectations of receiving a brewed delight in the form of a freshly ground double espresso.
Much to my chagrin, it was weak and bitter. The anti-climatic experience is akin to expecting Miranda Kerr giving you a full body massage wearing nothing but lacey-under garments but instead being on the receiving end of a back rub from Kochie in red budgie smugglers.
Perhaps the coffee beans weren't stored in appropriate atmospheric conditions. Perhaps the grind was chucking a tantrum and refusing to play well with others. Either way - these are the basics that need to hit for six everytime highly pressurised water is passed through beans and slam dunked into your cup.
In the cut-throat Perth CBD coffee market, consistency is critical. The reviewer acknowledges that this may be an anomaly in a cavalcade of divine, silky caffeine juice that they produce. But unlike the current state of Australian politics, one can't be judged on making grandiose promises that don't end up being delivered upon.
11 Budgie-smugglered Kochies out of 20 is an apt rating. As both the mental image conjured and the double espresso consumed leave the same aftertaste.

Maven Espresso on Urbanspoon

Llama Espresso: A1. Very Good.

Llama espresso originated in the 1500s when the Dalai Lama at the time bestowed upon his kingdom the first ever espresso coffee that Tibet has ever seen. The secret ingredient was sweat from the scalp and bare stomach of the Dalai Lama that was collected by a fleet of local concubines, bottled, and kept in perfect fermenting conditions for three phases of the moon. When it was just right - it was extracted, 30mls at a time and served to the royalty and high-net-worth individuals of the time.
Fast forward to 2012 , the geniuses at Llama Espresso have managed to capture that flavour in bean form and thus the 'llama espresso blend' was formed. The extra 'L' in 'Llama' is the roman numeral for the number of Dalai Lama's that have since added their holy nectar to the blend.
One of the most, if not THE MOST, flummoxing first world dillamas that faces workers in the CBD is the location of the best coffee in Perth. Today, it was this reviewers turn to see what all the fuss was about Llama Espresso was about.
By jingo by crickey did they deliver. The customer service was fantastic and although it was 'peak-hour' - the wait was over before you could say 'the human torch was denied a bank loan'.
The quality of the coffee was fantastic and is on par with the best I've had. Extracted to perfection, the dark chocolatey undertones invaded my taste buds with ferocity and it definitely Alpaca's a punch.
A fair rating would be 18.5 Llamas out of 20. Just as if you cut too many corners you'll end up going in circles, Llama Espresso cut no corners in delivering a seriously A1 grade coffee.

Llama Espresso on Urbanspoon

Cheeky Sparrow: Great Odin's Raven - A Royal Flush.

As we haven't heard enough about the "Royal Baby" this week, a royal flavour will be weaved into the fabric of this review by using a royal-family-member rating system for various elements of the experience.
Ambiance: Prince Harry
Not so much the ginger elements, more the non-conventional decor which is strangely alluring. The setting is cheekier than an episode of the biggest loser and provides a fantastic setting in which to escape the hustle and bustle and/or headlines about the royal baby.
Customer Service: Prince William.
Handsome, regal and likable. Both gentlemen who served us were good lads. A special mention goes to the barista who is known to this reviewer - he knows his way around group heads, ground beans and espresso shots of happiness like few others.
Blend: "Fergie" - Duchess of York.
The blend produced a Fergie-like flavour: thick, heavy at the bottom end and leaves an after taste in your mouth that you're unlikely to forget. It was a dark, chocolatey roast with a hint of Princess Beatrice (bitterness) that accentuated the flavour unlike any that I've tried recently.
Double Espresso Quality: The King (Elvis, of course)
Smooth. Only the most suspicious mind could find fault in what I was served.
Rating: 16.5 crown jewels out of 20. To say that the Cheeky Sparrow does not produce some of the best coffee in town would be more controversial than if the royal baby grew up with an uncanny physical resemblance to Prince Harry.

Cheeky Sparrow on Urbanspoon

Sentinel Bar and Grill: Sentinel's Soliloquy: Serving 'Spressos Satisfactorily

As is the nature of the cafe/coffee-shop market along the Terrace, it is difficult for a particular place to break from the Peloton. Sentinel, is no different.
Without arousing any particular inspiration, the espresso coffees we had were very well made. It exhibited a conventional flavour profile and is a safe choice for any one passing by who is longing for a coffee hit. Only the most pretentious hipster coffee snobs would thumb their nose at Sentinel's product.
The excellent customer service experience combined with the pricing point and ambiance of the setting are an axis of positives that would be remiss of this reviewer to ignore.
Sentinel Prime transforms coffee beans into a caffeine-infused, moist, espresso nectar, without transforming the face of the coffee market in Perth.
A sufficient rating would be 14 Royal Babies out of a possible 20. Not least because that's how old the royal baby will be by the time it hatches.

Sentinel Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Mini Espresso: Pistol Pete serves Espresso Ace

Mini-espresso lacks a girthy shop front rendering it easy to miss to the casual passer-by, as eluded to in previous reviews. It would struggle to hold the Williams sisters standing side-by-side, but they make an efficient use of the space nonetheless.
The customer service game is seeded first out of all Perth cafe's previously reviewed. Pistol Pete and the staff are casual-yet-professional, skilled in their craft, and even returned serve to obnoxious banter being dished out by Milk-Guzzling Morris, our mixed doubles partner.
They used a relatively timid house blend for our espressos, so if you're looking for an explosion of flavour in your mouth from your coffee - you may be slightly underwhelmed. However, the coffee was extracted very well. On a ratings scale of taste and likeability of Damir Dokic being filthy to Pat Rafter being delicious - it would sit snuggly next to P.Rafter. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can see myself returning regularly.
I rate this 16.5 Woody's out of a possible 20. After all, it's not size - it's how you use it. This maxim is definitely not lost on Pistol Pete.

Mini Espresso on Urbanspoon

Ristretto Espresso: A-Grade

25-30 seconds. The length of time it should take to extract an espresso shot from ground beans. Ristretto Espresso have this down to perfection.
Having ordered a double-espresso, the skill of the barista and the flavour of the blend manifested itself in a mardi-gras of fruity-flavours that is unlike any that I've yet to experience in a coffee in Perth CBD. As though inspired by Patrick Swayze from Ghost - the beans are ground in a meticulous and precise fashion, and it shows.
Whilst I don't see myself as a fedora-wearing, iMac toting, hipster-sympathising coffee-snob, my enthusiasm for a good espresso has seen me try a vast number of cafes across Perth and, in particular, the CBD. I do have my particular favourites where my loyalties lie - however Ristretto Espresso is as good as, if not better than, anything I've had in recent times.
Shoe-horned into a crevice in Howard Street, it might be easy to miss. I recommend this place because the passion/enthusiasm of the head-roaster/owner comes through in the quality of the coffee.
18.5 out of 20. It will be most satisfying 25-30 seconds that you're likely to experience in your day.

Ristretto Espresso on Urbanspoon

Small Print Bakery & Roastery: They are good. Seriously good.

On a morning where the temperature evoked nostalgic emotions about my days as a young cub, we ventured to Small Print.
Having heard nothing but positive things about the quality of their product - my expectations were lofty. And I wasn't disappointed.
The double espresso shot was as close to perfection as you'll see. The flavour river-danced its way across this reviewer's tastes buds and delivered a hit that not even Aleem Dar could miss.
Just as you can't make a baby in 1 month by getting 9 women pregnant - some things take time. Our waiting time of 15 minutes was the only aspect of the experience that would constitute a potential drawback.
The fact that this is the only 'negative' aspect of the whole experience merely reflects the quality of coffee as the wait was worth it.
My rating: 17.5 Hugh Jackmans out of 20. What Small Print lack in stature, they make up for in quality of their double espressos. You can expect a ruggedly handsome coffee experience that leaves you questioning why you'd go anywhere else.
Small Print is the place type of place that has more comebacks than Johnny Farnham with a cold sore because they are seriously good. This won't be The Last Time I'll be a customer, that's for sure.

Small Print Bakery & Roastery on Urbanspoon

Basilica: Safe

You can't spell Basilica without B.A.S.I.C. Now this doesn't necessarily have negative connotations when it comes to the coffee market in Perth - because they do the Basics very well. The blend won't be as extravagant as some of the top-shelf cafes in Perth, but the quality of coffee served certainly surpasses the bigger coffee-chains within the immediate vicinity.
Reliable, packs a punch and black with a smooth finish are characteristics that this reviewer looks for in a second hand car, a woman and a Double Espresso. All three boxes were ticked on this occasion. Technically - it was slightly over-extracted and a touch on the burnt side, but not to the extent that you'd consider not finishing it or having a sook about it.
We had two customer service interactions. The first who took our order was friendly and even tolerated our colleague - Indecisive Ian - who kept changing his mind about the length of Mac that he wanted in and around his mouth.
The second - who delivered our coffee - was less receptive to our farm-boy charm. She wore an expression akin to someone who inadvertently stumbled into the red zone of someone dropping their lunch on a packed d-floor.
Just as you can count on Bernard Tomic to chuck a wobbly when things don't go his way, you can count on Basilica for a coffee experience that will satisfy the majority of city-goers.
14.5 out of 20 baby Seals would be a fair rating.

Basilica on Urbanspoon

Standing Room Only: Outstanding

I have been to SRO many times before and see it as the benchmark against which to compare coffee places in Perth. Evidently, they are getting more of a reputation as they are getting busier and today was no exception. Upon arrival there were a few people in there and, as the name suggests, it was tighter than a baby mouses ear as we maneuvered to the register to place our order.
The choice of blend is harder to pick than a broken nose due to the wide array of quality they have on offer. We settled on the house blend 'Rock'n'Rolla' and while we were waiting we read up on the origin of the blend.
50% Burundi : 30% Ethiopia : 20%Brazil. I'm not Ghana lie, this unique type of blend is what sets SRO apart from the pack.
Hakeem Olajuwan would be proud of the authority with which the barista slam dunked the extraction on this occasion. It was a near perfect espresso shot, which is what I have come to expect from this place. I have nick named the barista the 'Mailman' because he always delivers.
The blend was unique. I can't say it's a favourite of mine but it's definitely.... different. I'd be lion if I said it wasn't worthy of your money. African love this place but at the end of the day my opinion is irrelephant because I think anyone who enjoys a coffee owes to their taste buds to go there.
I rate this 17 out of 20. I should point out that customer service was straight from the top shelf - polite, helpful and laid back, without the pretentious and self-important vibe that a lot of 'indie' coffee shop baristas convey. Two marks were lost on this occasion purely due to the blend. Granted it was my choice but that's the nature of the beast. The other mark was for the choice of music. Either way - the double espresso made this reviewer purr like a wolverine.
SRO, it's going to take a whole lot to take me away from you. There's nothing that a hundred other coffee shops and/or espresso bars could ever do.

Standing Room Only on Urbanspoon

Greenhouse: Danny Greenhouse lands espresso shot to the tastebuds

Much like the ancient Chinese proverb 'Does a man get twice as large, or disappear, upon eating himself?', attempting to answer the question of 'Where can I buy Perths best double espresso?' leaves you pondering.
Don't let the overly-pretentious and hipster stereotype deter you. Weighing in at a well-priced $3.00 - my DOUBLE (yes, Double - I'm not RVSP here, so I'm not interested in singles! Ha!) Espresso delivered. The trifecta - Smell, Taste, Aesthetics - delivered a punch that a boozed-up David Warner would be proud of.
I am seriously impressed with this one. This place is the Rocky Balboa of coffee joints within the immediate vacinity.
Id rate this 6 Fedoras out of 7 on the Vorkinator Scale.
Note: Half a mark was deducted from the overall experience due to the bland and uninterested barista who had an expression on their face not dissimilar to someone who has been sucking on a lemon. Perhaps smiling is too mainstream.

Greenhouse on Urbanspoon

Bar Lafayette: A Juxtaposed Experience

My review shall address two distinct characteristics of my experience. Namely: The Ambiance & The Double Espresso.
Having perused 'Urbanspoon' for an appropriate place to enjoy a quaint coffee, I decided upon 'Bar Lafayette' for no reason other than the ease at which the name rolls off the tongue.
The kind & presentable gentleman welcomed us upon arrival, promptly took our orders and kindly invited us to take a seat in the one of the adjacent rooms.
We were flummoxed by the quaint, delicate & safe setting that awaited. It was a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the Terrace. The soothing, aural stimulation provided by dulcet tones of Frank Sinatra was perfect.
Alas, much to my chagrin, the double espresso failed to live up to expectations. I believe the coffee beans were ground with the fury of 1000 angry gods as the espresso shots were over-extracted and tasted burnt as evidenced by the shambolic creme.
If one were to anthropromorphise this experience it would read as follows:
Ambiance: Frank Sinatra - 5/5.
Coffee: Matthew Newton. - 1/5

Bar Lafayette on Urbanspoon

Tiger, Tiger Coffee Bar: A Solid Brewski

It was a clear Wednesday afternoon whence I decided to wander down to Tiger, Tiger on the whim of an overly zealous work colleague who had suggested it.
Upon arrival I ordered my double espresso. I found the waitstaff helpful, polite and they all cut the light well.
The coffee itself was extracted to perfection with a creme that exhibited zeus-like features.
I will be going back again.