Howdy pardners! Looks like there’s a new kid in town, and thankfully there is definitely enough room for the both of us. Formerly a drab café on the corner of 9th Ave and Beaufort Street in Inglewood, Miss Kitty’s Saloon is a brand new, quirky, saloon-style restaurant specialising in American and Canadian cuisine and great drinks, or as they themselves describe it, “cowboy liquor and good quality food”. Hoping that it would be a continuation of the recent run of unique and interesting eateries that have been opening up all over town lately, I headed down there on Tuesday night with my housemate BJ for their “Dog ‘n’ Beer” combo special.
Unaware of what to expect, the initial signs were good as even though it was only a week day the place was jamming and so we left a phone number on the door and headed down the road to the Inglewood Hotel while we waited for a space to become available. We were told it would be a 45 minute to an hour wait, but after only a fraction more than a half hour we received a call to tell us that a place had opened up at the bar. This turned out to be an excellent turn of events because not only did it mean we got to chat with the bartender (who was a real, live Canadian) and ask a bunch of questions, but it also made our man-date a whole lot less fey. Instead of two men sitting down for a lovely meal together, we were two fellas propping up the bar and cracking jokes with the barkeep, which just seemed more appropriate given the Wild West saloon vibe of the place.
Speaking of the vibe, they’ve done a fantastic job with the fit out. Sitting somewhere between a bar in a John Wayne cowboy film, your grandmother’s living room and an intimate dining space, it’s loaded with vintage fittings and quirky features (such as the light fitting make from a twisted iron bed frame). It’s got an old piano in one corner, an open lounge room type space complete with a rocking chair (with crochet quilt) and freestanding fireplace and a wall covered in wood pallets, all of which is accentuated by warm low lighting and a cosy feel. Overall, very original and fantastically unique, the kind of place that manages to strike a balance between classiness and laid back cool.
Having soaked up some of the atmosphere and installed ourselves at the bar, we perused the menu for a couple of items to accompany our Beer ‘n’ Dog specials. Despite our undeniably internationally attuned palates here in Perth, I still think that North American cuisine has received a bit of a bad rap to date and has been written off by many as consisting of nothing more than supersized burgers and mountains of greasy French fries. This is doing it a huge disservice, and while it’s certainly far from health food, when done properly it’s full of great flavours and unique dishes, and that’s exactly what you’ll find on the menu at Miss Kitty’s. Taking classic dishes, they’ve added their own spin and come up with some mind blowing and taste-bud-tingling creations such as Charcoal Tamarind Pork Ribs with corn, chilli and yoghurt, Maple Fried Pig Meatloaf with steamed prawns , red apple and thousand island dressing, Beef Chilli with corn waffle and avocado butter and Roast Suckling Pig with tomato relish. At this stage, I do apologise but I’m going to have to revert to corny clichés here and say hawt diggety dawg it all looked and sounded amazing!
Seeing as I’m avoiding alcohol at the moment (hard to believe I know!), I asked if they had anything interesting and non-boozey on offer and was recommended a classic American A&W root beer. Tasting something like a mixture between coke and toothpaste, it nevertheless grew on me and proved to be a more than adequate substitute for the Rio Grande cerveza that BJ had with his dog.
To warm up our taste buds (quite literally as it turned out), we started off with one each of the Hot Wing Pancakes with ranch sauce and pickled carrot. While little more than a couple of bites apiece, they nonetheless packed an almighty flavour wallop, with the soft pancake, creamy ranch dressing and the sharp crunch of the pickled carrot all blending perfectly with the intensely spicy chicken. It was quite hot, not tame-suburban-white-person hot but genuinely fiery, which was a pleasant surprise, and the whole thing was set off perfectly by a lump of blue cheese sat on the top, a clever nod to the blue cheese sauce that normally accompanies spicy wings served stateside.
In keeping with the idiosyncratic nature of the place, they’ve chosen not to round up the price of their $16.80 Beer ‘n’ Dog special. For that small fraction under 17 dollars you get, along with your Rio Bravo Mexican larger, a generously sized hot dog (insert you own knob gag here) with tortilla chips and guacamole. It doesn’t sound like much on paper, but as is so often the case with simple food like this it’s all in the details. Both the tortilla chips and guacamole were handmade, the chips dusted with a delicious spicy paprika powder and the guac laced with citrus juice and chunks of red onion. The hotdog itself was also impressive, the bun steamed for that great, slightly chewy texture and the sausage topped with mustard, ketchup (“It’s tomato sauce not ketchup!” I hear you cry. Normally I’d agree but it’s American cuisine so in the interests of cultural authenticity I’m using their terminology) and a tangy pickle and onion based relish. It’s these small touches that elevate such a meal from boring fast food to something fantastically enjoyable.
In the name of giving the place a proper review and also trying something new, BJ and I also ordered a serving of Poutine with a bit of foie gras on top for good measure. For the uninitiated amongst you out there, Poutine is an iconic Canadian dish consisting of French fries, gravy and milk curds. Originating from the French-speaking part of the country, the bartender described it as “the kebab of Montreal” and told us that it was almost impossible to pass a street corner in the downtown area of said city without coming across some kind of vendor dishing it out to hungry Québécois. Although completely unnecessary (we would have been full enough without it), it was a slightly unusual yet very enjoyable experience. The hand cut fries, homemade curd and gravy were all great, but the whole thing was elevated to a complete other realm of delicious decadence by the huge slab for foie gras they threw on top. For the mere $3 extra it cost it was a staggeringly generous portion considering what you normally pay for the stuff and, by the time we’d finished it all off, had us clutching our stomachs and groaning in a state of richness induced agony/ecstasy.
On top of the good atmosphere and food, the service was also great. Our Canuck bartender was more than happy to chat away, answer questions and laugh at our bad jokes. When we asked what the large jar with the tap on it behind the bar was, he gave us a free shot of the self-prepared cinnamon bonded rye whiskey that it contained to taste (and also another half a shot each when we waited a little too long for our food). He also discussed the merits of various bourbon based cocktails (and supported my assertion that a Manhattan was in no way a girly drink) and gave us a coffee each on the house at the end of our meal. To top it off he also knew his way around a good cocktail, as the bourbon, dry ginger and freshly squeezed apple juice one he made for BJ was delicious.
So folks, if you’re a fan of quality North American cuisine or have never tried it before and are looking for a fun new dining experience then I highly recommend heading on down to Miss Kitty’s Saloon. Their brunch menu (available Sat and Sun from 8:27am-2:57pm) also looks fantastic, in particular the Buttermilk Flap Jacks, Steak ‘n’ Eggs and Chicken & Waffles. I’ve been trying to be good and eat healthily of late, but with such temptations on offer close by something tells me that I’m going to be taking a morning off my diet sometime in the very near future.