Ok! I’ll admit it! I’ll come clean! I can’t take it anymore! I might as well tell you from the off that the article that you are about to read is somewhat tainted in that I may have let slip that I was reviewing the restaurant and thus may have received preferential treatment (and perhaps even a free curry too). Well as it turns out I know I received preferential treatment as I’ve been to the establishment in question a few times before and definitely had a different experience, but I’ll get in to that more later. My housemate and fellow dinner companion, who also happens to be a budding journalist himself, made clear mention of that fact that every ethical bone in his body was trembling at my blatant disregard of journalistic ethics. However, I was quick to point out that he is employed by News Limited, and that people employed by His Rupertness shouldn’t be too quick to cast stones in this regard, what with the glass houses they’ve found themselves inhabiting of late.
Anyway, dirty laundry out of the way, it’s time to get on with my reviews. We started off the evening at Sweet Java, a little out-of-the-way Indonesian restaurant in suburban Mt Lawley. Run by a husband and wife team, it’s a charming, eccentric little place inside a converted old corner store that serves up some of the best Indonesian food you’re likely to find this side of Java itself. I should explain here that I grew up for a number of years on Christmas Island and thus have had a love of authentic Indonesian and Malaysian dishes instilled in me from an early age (we could get Nasi Lemak at our school canteen!), so finding a place as good as this in my home town was amazing.
I mentioned the word eccentric before, and it really does best describe both the atmosphere and the service at Sweet Java. The décor is a mixture of Indonesian art and artefacts, mismatched tables and chairs and psychedelic, colour changing light bulbs that, while it may sound a little nuts, actually works really well. It exudes that slightly slapdash, laid back attitude that I find so appealing in a lot of South-East Asian culture. As for the service, Mr and Mrs Sweet Java operate the old good cop/bad cop routine, with her being lovely and helpful and him being generally grumpy and sometimes quite rude. Imagine an Indonesian Fawlty Towers dynamic where they run a restaurant and not a hotel. Whatever you do, for heaven’s sake don’t turn up without a booking, as walk-ins are apparently a huge inconvenience to Mr Sweet Java, even on quiet weeknights with an almost empty restaurant. Like I admitted to before, as soon as it became apparent that I was giving the place a review, the charm was turned on and he suddenly became much more accommodating, but then again he can be like this at other times if you catch him on a good day, so it’s a lottery really. Beyond that, I’ve never waited ages for food or had any missing dishes or anything of the sort, so they are quite good in that regard.
Whatever you want to say about the service or demeanour of the hosts, the food is spectacular. For starters we opted for an off-the-menu entre platter at the suggestion of Mrs Sweet Java (she really is lovely and helpful!) consisting of spring rolls, samosas, chargrilled chicken legs and lamb satays. The spring rolls and samosas were lovely and crispy, but the real highlights were the chicken legs,
which were smoky and marinated to perfection, and the satays smothered in a rich, peanutty sauce. For mains we chose to share a bunch of dishes between the five of us; the Nasi Goreng Special with chicken satays and fried egg, the Nasi Campur (beef rendang curry served with Jasmine rice, pieces of tofu and homemade sambal), Udang Cabe (stir fried prawn in soy sauce, chilli and vegetables), the Bakami Goreng (stir fried egg noodles with diced chicken, scrambled egg and oriental vegetables), the Sate Ayam (chicken satays) and a serve of steamed rice to finish it all off. All of it was outstanding, well cooked food that captured that uniquely Indonesian use of spices, sauces and coconut milk. I should also mention the complimentary beef rendang curry that we received, which was as delicious, fragrant and creamy as it was ethically tainted (but hey, I don’t get paid for this so I might as well get some perks right?).
Sweet Java is my kind of restaurant for a number of reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, the food is fantastic, but beyond that it offers somethingdifferent from the normal run-of-the-mill restaurant experience. Yes Basil Fawlty may be a bit in-your-face at times, but if you take it with a grain of salt it can be highly amusing, and catch him on a good day and he actually can be quite charming and personable (how many other restaurant owners regularly fist-bump their patrons?). It’s a quirky little place with loads of personality and is also obscure enough as to not make getting reservations a problem even at relatively short notice. Oh, and did I mention that it’s completely BYO alcohol with no corkage charge? Winner!
After dinner we decamped to Deville’s Pad, a swingin’ nightspot on the outer edges of Northbridge that has what can best be described as a deliberately kitsch, 50’s Vegas satanic cabaret theme, if that makes any sense to you. Using my member’s card to bypass the line (did I mention how freaken cool I am?) we entered the main bar and were greeted by the strains of the West Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra belting out a few numbers on stage. Although I love the crazy interior decoration, the fantastic bar and generally classy vibe of the place, the music is the thing I like most about Deville’s. They regularly host great live original and tribute acts (which are normally lame I know, but trust me they work in this environment) and when the curtains fall the DJs spin a great mixture of old school soul, funk and rock for you to twist the night away to. Oh yeah, there are go-go dancers too! They also have a bit more of a restrictive door policy and encourage patrons to dress up for the occasion. Officially it’s for over 25’s only, but if you are well dressed and seem generally cool and on the level you shouldn’t have any problem getting in.
I kicked things off with a Mighty Mephizzto, a gin based cocktail that tastes like an alcoholic liquid lemon meringue pie, then moved on to the beer of the month, then something else, then possibly tequila? The bar there is very well stocked and they mix a mean cocktail, but I’ll be honest with you folks exact
details were a bit beyond me at this stage, but suffice it to say we had a great time boogying away on the dance floor and chatting in the large outdoor area out back. All in all a quality evening that totally justified the monstrous hangover that followed, and you can’t ask for anything more than that now can you?