We grill chef Stuart Laws on his new wood-fired restaurant at Bright Tank Brewing Co.
Veteran chef Stuart Laws is back on the pans, having opened Brown Street Grill inside the walls of Bright Tank Brewing Co in East Perth late last year. Presiding over a custom grill and wood-fired oven in the striking open kitchen, the former Don Tapas chef champions Western Australia produce, cooked with charcoal. We spoke to Laws about his new home, what to order and what to pair it with.
It’s been a few years since your last venture, Don Tapas. What brought you back into the kitchen? Being a chef is one of the most challenging and rewarding careers in the world. It can take you places others only dream of and set you up with life skills to succeed in any field. But it’s the produce and passion that brings me back time after time – it’s like a cult in a way. And Brown Street Grill is all about produce and passion: simple cooking executed well, but overall it must be tasty, in season and local.
Brown Street Grill is attached to Bright Tank Brewing Co, what attracted you to the project? From the moment you walk into Bright Tank it’s a sensory overload with bold graffiti, massive stainless-steel tanks and a bright blue bar – you really feel immersed in the process. We’ve tried to continue that overload in the kitchen. We want you to feel a part of what we are passionate about and to see everything happening right in front of you – the sights, the sounds, the smells, all within reaching distance at every moment, right down to the green granite pass and the interaction with the chef when you collect your order.
What approach have you taken with the food? As chefs, it’s our job to tell the producers’ story, we are the conduit if you like. At Brown Street Grill we only use local, in-season produce and every dish is uncomplicated and super-tasty so we can make the produce shine. Every item on the menu is touched by fire in one way or another, and we take all dietary requirements into consideration within the menu. Most items are gluten-free, and all vegetables love fire, so we love vegetables.
Say I’m just dropping in for a snack. What’s your pick? Our menu changes with the seasons and with what’s available, which means we change at least four dishes every two weeks. Our wagyu-fat potatoes are definitely a stand-out, but my favourite share-style dish would have to be our pides, which are like a Turkish-style pizza. They’re so tasty and easy to share – we currently have a pork and fennel sausage pide with roasted red capsicum, scamorza and a rocket and parmesan salad, and a mushroom and spinach pide with Bookara goat’s curd and soft herbs. They’re changing all the time and we always have a vegetarian one on offer. And we’re working on some new flavours at the moment, including char siu pork with a sprout salad.
How about something bigger and meatier to share with friends? Our Stirling Ranges beef ribs, marinated in gochujang, then hung and smoked over the grill for 14 hours, paired with some kimchi and pickled sprouts.
Then what’s on the menu for people who don’t eat animals? Our signature vegetarian dish is the char-grilled broccoli with macadamia hummus, pine nut and currant agrodolce and puffed grains, but we always have at least four plant-based dishes on the menu. I’m currently in love with the flavours of our wood-roasted brussel sprouts finished with a spicy kung pao sauce. They’re cooked in the wood oven with sesame oil so they get a really nice crispness to them and are just delicious.
The open kitchen acts like a theatre of smoke and flames. What’s your favourite wood-fired dish and why? I can’t say one dish specifically, but all of our vegetable dishes absolutely love being kissed by the open flame. I’m not sure what it is but eggplant and leeks that have been burnt over fire then peeled back are just to die for. Maybe it’s the sugar caramelising, but char-grilled broccoli, roasted cauliflower and smoked zucchinis are just wonderful.
Something sweet to finish? We have a new dessert on the menu that I am absolutely in love with: miso and white chocolate semifreddo with caramelised popcorn. I’m not much of a sweet tooth and this one hits the right notes for me. It has the perfect balance of sweet, salty and bitter, and is nice and refreshing on these scorching days.
OK that’s food. What about drinks? What should we order? The beautiful thing about being inside a brewery is the beer is always fresh and always good. You can’t go past Bright Tank’s Chalkface Killah, but if you feel like something different, you have to try the seasonal releases. We recently had a gauva gose on, which was light and refreshing for hot days – a little sweet, a little sour, a little salty, and light on the booze so you could really enjoy it.
What experience do you want diners to take away from Brown Street Grill? It’s relaxed casual dining and a sensory journey that you can immerse yourself in. Our menu is designed to share and our service model is order at counter and collect, which means you can try as many or as few dishes as you like. The most common order at the moment is “one of everything” and this enables the diner to eat their way through WA. Then, the open kitchen allows diners to watch chefs in action and chat – we love feedback and the more you come up, the more we love it.