Food comes with philosophy at Co-Op Dining. Eating with a clear conscience is important here and they mean it.As much as possible their produce has been responsibly farmed, ethically handled and sustainably produced. Bread, cheese and charcuterie are made on site. So is vermouth. Herbs, edible flowers and grasses are foraged from paddocks and sand dunes, like Old Man Saltbush, fried into wispy crisps and dusted with vinegar powder. It’s a starter on the new a la carte menu which is offered Tuesday to Friday in addition to the long-standing “express” and “signature” degustation spreads.
Co-Op alludes to the co-operation between chef and farmer. A paddock-to-plate approach drives all dishes, from Rottnest scallops with citrus-cured strands of cucumber, samphire stems and wild garlic flowers, to rainbow trout with roast fennel, almond and wood sorrel, otherwise known as sour grass. Yes, it’s a weed from the chef’s garden in the Hills, but the tangy flavour of the leaves is match with oily fish.
The a la carte menu is seasonal and concise. Portions are small. Emphasis is on ingredients prepared with barely a dash of salt because the idea is that good produce needs minimal intervention.
There’s a tidy wine list with some top-end labels, special champagnes, whiskies, cognacs and gins. Service is informed and the dining room, dimly lit and secluded, is at the bottom of a residential complex in a paved back street in East Perth.
Chef Kiren Mainwaring is a pioneer. He cooks to the beat of his own drum and takes the connections between producer and kitchen seriously. His earnestness and creativity result in smart dishes for informed foodies.