Cuisine: American, Pub / Bar Food
Location: Burswood, Crown Perth
Given my disappointment at not being able to try the Fried Chicken & Red Velvet Waffles at The Merrywell on my last visit in October, I returned again on the correct day the dinner menu applies. I caught up with a mate and had a look at the menu outside the restaurant. I was also keen to try their BBQ “JD and Coke” ribs so I was fortunate that my mate ordered that. We also decided to order an item to share and opted for the Mac & Cheese Bites – The Merrywell’s version of macaroni and cheese.
While I didn’t make any comments in my last visit to The Merrywell in regard to the unusual method of ordering, I will not hold back this time. You walk in and grab a table (so you have a place reserved before it gets taken when it gets busy) before going to the bar to order and pay for drinks before returning to your table. Then when you feel hungry, you go to the entrance near the casino floor and queue up in a certain section. Once again you order and pay for your food before grabbing a table number to place where ever you are seated. The food is then brought out to you. I find this very convoluted. Considering the price of the menu items which are a little over the top for a bar, I wonder why you just don’t grab a table and waitstaff come and take your food & drink orders before being brought out to you? Or, go to the bar and order drinks and food and pay for it there in the one go. I don’t care for this set up and have not seen this before.
Anyway, we ordered our meals immediately after entering given I’d visited once already and knew the drill. We then went to the bar to grab some drinks. By the time we got our drinks and headed back to our table, we were met by some confused waitstaff who had been standing there for less than a minute seeing the empty table and wondering where the patrons were. They had our food orders already! What does that say? The kitchen is highly efficient &/or it took too long to make one cocktail and pour an orange juice? It wasn’t that busy. I’d say the latter. Impressive kitchen service though!
I was feeling quite hungry after purposely having a light lunch and building up an appetite. I started with some of the Mac & Cheese Bites. They were golden brown, perfectly deep fried, and had a soft crunch. One bite into them and a chunk of cheese came with it. It was soft and gooey. The remaining bite now had little cheese. The macaroni is quite mushed up and has lost it’s texture. Rob Broadfield described them as “UN-BEE-LEEV-ABLE!”. I respectfully disagree. They were enjoyable, but not wow. I wasn’t blown away and my mate agreed. I’m not sure what cheese is used but it’s not like it was brie or camembert. And lastly, definitely not worth $15 – maybe that’s what Rob Broadfield was referring to as ”UN-BEE-LEEV-ABLE!”. I did like the tangy HP sauce that went perfectly with the cheesy bites and the bites themselves are not rich.
Next up, as we normally do when we catch up, is swap a little of our meal with each other to get a taste besides your own dish. The BBQ “JD and Coke” Ribs ($36) had a very dark colour and boy were the ribs long! These are beef ribs by the way, unlike the pork ribs served at Tony Roma’s for example. The meat was very tender and perfectly cooked through, although, carried a very un-American flavour which seemed more like Indian lamb shanks or something Asian – did I detect cloves or five spice? A bit like the spices used in succulent roast duck at an Asian restaurant. Anyway, it was quite tasty though there could have been more meat. The ribs (bones) occupy some space once the meat is stripped bare, however, there is a little surprise in the ribs. Suck the marrow from the ends of the bones for some extra flavour! The dish did come with 2 corn cobs, a slice of watermelon, and Chinese watercress which my Asian mate found unusual. The components are very mixed and don’t seem to go together. But wait for the next dish.
For my dish ($28), I was served 4 pieces of crispy fried chicken in killer bee honey with 2 quarters of red velvet waffles and a cream which was sour. A more than decent serving which I was satisfied with. Very crispy, crunchy chicken which was well cooked, but dripping in honey. The texture of the skin was firm unlike the softish skin you would find on KFC for example. This provided nice texture against the softish chicken flesh. However, the presence of honey made the chicken overly sweet and gave it a confusing flavour. Chicken is not sweet like this. Even honey & sesame chicken at an Asian restaurant isn’t this sweet nor dripping with this much honey. There was way too much honey and it was just short of being sickeningly sweet. The red velvet waffles were deep and had lots of height as it had risen lots, soft without being soggy and still holding it’s shape. It contained no sweetness but there’s plenty of honey so mop it up with the waffles. The waffles also came with whipped cream that was sour. This was weird. This whole dish is weird. It doesn’t go and doesn’t work. It’s a dish of confusion. Sourish cream with un-sweet waffles do go with very sweet honey and the sourness cuts through the sweetness but the sweetness is required for the waffles that have no sweetness but the crispy chicken doesn’t need the honey. Are you still with me? Talk about confusion of flavours. It’s a disappointing dish that goes nowhere. Lose the honey and is the cream supposed to be sour or did I get a dodgy batch?
The Merrywell Food Review Summary
Verdict: As a bar and while I’m not a drinker, I think the venue is excellent to catch up with friends over a few drinks. The food is not horrible but while trying to be quirky, it has lost direction. The fusion of flavours from different cuisines or different flavours did not come off as a master chef dish. Rather, it was an epic fail. Stick to the basics rather than trying to be too cute. I would loved to have had southern fried chicken or some version far closer to American roots without being like a fast food chain version. Same too for the ribs. I wouldn’t come here again. This is the most overhyped place. It’s a bar and it’s good at that but it will not be known for it’s food. Supposed dude food, yes some quirky dishes, more style than substance and overpriced. Go out on to the casino floor and you can order and pay for a drink and have it brought to you. Go into The Merrywell, and you have to go the bar and get it yourself, then line up at the entrance to place and pay for your food order. Something is not right here. I thought some of the dishes are overpriced for the quantity served. Even the restaurants in Perth’s CBD have prices that look better. I guess what they say is true about a casino, “the house always wins” – whether dining or betting.
Price: Reasonable (a bit pricey for some of the dishes considering what you’re served)
Recommendation: Try Once If You Want But Not Worth Visiting Again
See my prior blog post:
Food Review of The Merrywell – Oct 2012
The Merrywell Restaurant Details
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