Blaze Young, chef-extraordinaire, talks pub classics, retro cocktails and pints in the sun at Northbridge’s retro-cool newcomer Edward & Ida’s.
Dimitri Rtshilaldze has the magic touch. As if running one of WA’s best bars in Foxtrot Unicorn wasn’t enough, the follow-up, Nieuw Ruin, has become essential dining in Fremantle. Part of the success has been in handing the reins to Shirley Yeung at Foxtrot, who oversees a cracking cocktail list, and to Blaze Young at Nieuw Ruin, who’s deft touch and kitchen smarts saw her take out our Young Chef of the Year award for 2023. With Edward & Ida’s, Rtshilaldze has brought the pair together in a space where Young’s talent is on full show across a menu of recast pub classics, and Yeung’s cocktail work is given its due in the main bar and in downstairs cocktail den, Ida’s. To go with it, there’s a talented supporting cast, a beautifully refreshed 100-year-old site that leans on original features and a tone that’s all about warm welcomes and fine times. A few weeks in, we chatted to Young about McDonald’s-inspired fish burgers, Midori Splices, bone-in schnitties and Aussie nostalgia. Pull up a stool, the beers are cold.
Even if elements of Edward & Ida’s is elevated (it’s not every pub that sells freshly shucked oysters, for example), classic pubs and nostalgia played a big factor. How have you been describing it to people?
It certainly leans into a nostalgia for the old and classic Perth. The site, while being the youngest we’ve tackled yet, is a beautiful 100-year-old building and a lot of the work was just stripping it back and highlighting the original features, like the ornate pressed-tin ceiling that had been covered up for years and the original hardwood floors. The entire bar is built from reclaimed materials, which makes it feel like a space that has existed for years. Combined with Dim’s insane collection of antique booze signage, the rest fell into place. It has that old pub feel, while offering sharp drinks, good food and excellent service. A small local hangout venue that has something for everyone, that also reflects Perth’s history.
It’s a big site. What have you got going on with the different spaces?
Upstairs the bar is long and narrow, and each space feels distinct. You can sit up to the bar in the front room for a counter meal, a pint, and a chat to the bartenders, or settle into one of the high tables inside for more of a dining experience. The courtyard lends itself to cocktails and freshly shucked oysters, pints in the sun, and at night we have the fireplace cranking. The space is comfortable, and you’ll see groups moving around as the night continues.
Downstairs is a different feel altogether. Almost a venue within a venue. A small but eccentric cocktail den with a strong focus on cocktails. The walls are lined with thousands of mini booze bottles, vintage taxidermy and bar paraphernalia. Basement bars have that uncanny ability to exist outside of time and space, hours slip away and you can easily forget that the outside world exists.
And those menus are different as well?
The opening menu has a broad offering, something for everyone, with the ability to fit different occasions. Not having worked in Northbridge for many years I was curious to put a large menu out there and see what people were interested in eating. Remarkably, the answer was everything! The broad spread has kept people coming back in again and again to try different parts of the menu. Anything from just a Scotch egg and a Guinness to a dozen freshly shucked oysters, orders of all three pies at once, to the tables who want one of everything.
Downstairs we wanted to keep the focus on the drinks, with an exclusive list of house cocktails. The drink offering echoes the modern flavours and classic cocktail methodology created by the award-winning bar team at Foxtrot Unicorn, overseen by [former WAGFG Bartender of the Year] Shirley Yeung.
You’ve got a pretty stellar team. Talk me through who’s involved.
Absolutely. We’ve been lucky to put together an all-star cast of hospitality veterans for the opening team. We’ve got Shirley running the show, an acclaimed bartender who has been with the group since their first opening – Foxtrot Unicorn – in 2019.
Running front-of-house you’ll find Adam Mitchell, a mentor of Perth’s dining that you may recognise from Shadow Wine Bar, Fleur and Dandelion.
We’ve got Ben Louthean behind the bar, Perth locals may know Ben from Long Chim and Alfred’s Pizza, or perhaps a late night at Hula Bula and Devilles Pad back in the day.
Heading up the kitchen with me is Cassi Garrett, a rising star who hails from Margaret River and is already well versed in the world of booze-friendly bites, with a résumé boasting stints at Millbrook, Besk and Leeuwin Estate.
What are we looking at in terms of the drinks? Let’s start with taps and wine.
We’re very lucky to have Bruno Serra (Mummucc’, Fleur, Casa) on board as the group’s wine director, and he’s put together a super-sharp list that encompasses everything from independant local winemakers to beautiful imported bottles. The glass list has a strong leaning towards chardonnay and pinot noir, showing off the versatility of our two favourite grapes. A bit of something for everyone, from affordable local stuff through to a reserve wine list including fine Burgundy.
There’s eight beer taps, which is the most we’ve run for our venues – you gotta have good tap beer to be a pub though right!? Guiness of course, and Swan Draught for everyday smashers – then you’ll have rotating local breweries making up the rest of the lineup: Beerfarm, Otherside, Blasta and Fox Friday are currently making an appearance.
How has Yeung approached cocktails? Any standouts we shouldn’t skip?
Shirley has put together a fun list of classics upstairs, bringing some old favourites back into the spotlight. Don’t miss the layered, bright-green Midori Splice or her elegant take on the famed Irish Coffee.
Downstairs in Ida’s Cocktail Den is where the creativity will fly – it’s all about fun approachable drinks with rock solid classic technique.
There’s pub classics, and then there’s pub food by Blaze Young – we know you love to dig into vintage cookbooks at Nieuw Ruin. What does the menu look like here?
The dishes at Edward and Ida’s walk the same line as Nieuw Ruin in that sense, poking fun at old Australian nostalgia, drawing inspiration from vintage classics but presenting them with sharp execution, big flavours, and high-quality produce. Simplicity is the key here – simple flavours executed well.
Let’s talk snacks. What should a table start with?
I always start with oysters and ours are as fresh as they get. Shucked to order and served next to a bowl of hot, salty chips, you can’t go wrong! I’m also loving the sausage roll as a starter. Two parts sausage roll, one part pâté en croûte, the housemade puff pastry is loaded with butter, resulting in a crust that flakes and melts in your mouth. Combined with Cassi’s punchy take on the classic HP sauce, it’s hard to stop the chefs eating them all.
And in terms of counter meals, what do the bigger plates look like?
I wanted to keep the opening menu super approachable and affordable, with dishes that you enjoy solo or come down with a group and share. The Scotch egg has been an instant favourite. Tim’s very good eggs are covered with a curry-spiked pork mince, crumbed and fried until golden and jammy on the inside. We’re serving these up atop pickled black walnut aïoli and some beautiful mustard leaves grown for us at Perth City Farm.
The fish burger is our take on the classic Filet-O-Fish, but made a little decadent. It seems sacrilegious to deep-fry toothfish, which is such a beautiful product, but then you bite into the shattering batter to find the buttery, melt-in-your mouth flesh within. We just couldn’t resist.
Then for the schnitty, we’re working with Dirty Clean Food to find the best birds we could. They’re crumbed on the bone in cornflakes and mustard seeds, fried until golden and topped with capers and some very good 24-month aged parmesan. We then serve it simply, next to a big crunchy wedge of gem lettuce doused in an Olasagasti anchovy Caesar.
Nieuw Ruin is well-known for its pies, and you’ve got three here. What are we talking?
In an ode to the vegetarian classic at Nieuw Ruin, we have a vegetarian potato pie, filled with potato dauphinoise layered with caramelised onion and big pockets of gooey cheese all wrapped in buttery layers of filo.
There’s the smoked fish pie, for which we dry-age Spanish mackerel, before smoking the fillets with paperbark. Their frames are used to make a dark-roasted fish stock, spiked with dashi, which makes the base of the filling. Then there’s the bright sweetness of sautéed leek, celery, fennel and shallot and a little tarragon. We’re serving it up shepherd’s style, topped with piped Paris mash that crisps slightly in the oven as it’s cooked. It’s a banger.
Lastly, the star of the menu has definitely been the beef and Guinness pie, served with a bone-marrow chimney. We braise local beef cheek and shin in a rich Guinness-spiked stock. The marrows are rendered out and we cook celeriac and carrots in the bone marrow with rosemary and garlic. The rest of the marrow is added to the braising liquor, now a rich meaty stock and reduced to make the Guinness gravy. It’s all topped off with buttery, flaky puff. Perfect drinking food.
And anything sweet we should keep an eye on?
Cassi’s put together a simple but delicious quince crumble, topped with caramelised white chocolate, buckwheat and served with a brandy-spiced anglaise. Stay posted for a rotation of seasonal Australian classics.
What do you hope the place brings to the area?
We just want to provide better drinking and food options back to Northbridge. There is such a great community here that we’re excited to be a part of.