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43 Below - 26 Sep 2012

Cuisine: Modern Australian, pub food
Location: Perth CBD, underground bar with access off Hay St or Barrack St.

Today was our quarterly away day at work where the first half of the day is spent giving updates, briefings etc, followed by lunch at 43 Below and then some fun at Pot Black. I’ve previously visited 43 Below which is an underground bar with access off Hay St or Barrack St. We’ve had after work drinks and also an end of financial year function with some delicious catered food. I haven’t eaten a meal here though, so I was interested to see what was on the menu. Like most pub / bar type establishments in Perth, the menu is quite similar – steak sandwiches, burgers, fish and chips, chicken Parmagiana, surf & turf etc. The blackboard specials were something different but there was one item which caught my eye and was at the very end of the menu – Brewer’s Choice (or chef’s tasting plate). It came with 2 mini burgers, 3 chicken wings, char grilled sausage, fried peppered squid and a lamb skewer. Sounds like a dish with the current buzz in food – dude food.

I’ve read a few articles about this and wondered what’s the big deal about dude food. Dude food is aimed at men – junk or snack food, cheffed up, with a bit of polish that are small in size. Mini burgers are now called sliders. Chicken wings are now in vogue. Stuff like that, hopefully you get the picture. A new food type rebelling against fine dining. As if there is no other alternative apart from fine dining. Its even made it’s way as a theme as one of the food challenges on the recent series of MasterChef. Now The Merrywell is opening in Crown Perth (formerly Burswood) featuring dude food inspired by Chefs Sam DeMarco and Grant MacPherson.

Ok, so let’s see how this “dude food” actually tastes. Amongst a large group of us, we had ordered at the counter and the meals took a reasonable time to be served but this was inconsistent. Some meals were quick out of the kitchen, most came in a reasonable time, and others came when many must have finished. The rest of the bar wasn’t that packed and we had our own room although the meals weren’t pre-ordered. My meal came within a reasonable time. A large, white rectangular dish was placed in front of me. Two mini burgers were at either end, light golden crispy battered squid lay at the far right, the charred thickly sliced sausage formed a pile on the far left, followed by the lamb skewer, 3 chicken wings in the middle and two small dishes of tomato sauce and mayonnaise at the top. A nice selection with variety. The squid was lightly battered and tasty, but very soft, undercooked. Not raw, but could have been cooked longer so the squid was firm but not tough and the light golden batter turned to a golden brown. Still, good flavour but I’ve had a more flavoursome version before. The mini burgers were delicious, an absolute standout. I really loved this but it was missing tomato sauce so having a dish of sauce handy, enhanced the flavour. The char grilled sausage was intense. Lovely flavour but a smattering of tomato sauce was definitely required to dial down the intenseness in flavour. The flavour was somewhere between salami and chorizo and had that kind of texture. The chicken wings were moist and tasty but could have been packed with more flavour and, while enjoyable, seemed a bit pedestrian. The lamb skewer was not what I was expecting which was more like a kebab in my imagination. Instead, it was a piece of lamb that was skewered. So when biting in it didn’t break off very easily and you had to take a bigger bite like taking a bite out of a steak. Tender and juicy but I didn’t like the flavour all that much and could have been improved. This was probably the weakest element on the plate. All up, I enjoyed this concept of dude food, the variety and those mini burgers. I was full.

43 Below Food Review Summary

Verdict: For $28, I was happy with my choice and enjoyed the variety and the chance to sample “dude food”. The standout item was the mini burgers which were delicious. I enjoyed the chicken wings and char grilled sausage, but the dish could have benefitted with a slight increase in flavour in the chicken wings and skewered lamb. The squid also needed more cooking and slightly more seasoning. Nonetheless, it was a generous serving which satisfied my appetite and got the tick of approval from me on the “dude food” front. Notice no vegetables or salad – all meat. Definitely suited to men.
Price: Reasonable
Taste: Delicious
Value: Excellent
Recommendation: Recommend

43 Below Restaurant Details

http://www.43below.com.au/
43 Below on Urbanspoon

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43 Below - 26 Sep 2012, reviewed by Shaun on 2012-09-26T19:59:56+00:00 rating 4.0 out of 5
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Restaurant Rating System

It's subjective but I base my reviews on 4 key areas:

Price: Bargain > Reasonable > Moderately Expensive > Expensive
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The final recommendation will consider the price, taste and value. Value will be based on price and other factors like service and serving size.