A talented chef-owner pushes the envelope of daytime dining with an instinctive combination of creativity and technique in a hallowed space of the Perth dining scene.
There’s a circularity to Chris Howard taking up residence in what was Greenhouse, chef Matt Stone’s launchpad to international acclaim: back in its early days Howard, now chef and co-owner of The Humble Onion, was an apprentice. After garnering attention at Panama Social and North Bird, and burnishing his reputation as a culinary weapon, Howard is back where it all began, running his new venture in the same striking space with business partner and front-of-house gun Caitlin Johnston.
Initially a breakfast-through-lunch venue, the hours have now changed, and the focus shifted to lunch (plus the occasional dinner, plus the occasional fried chicken sandwich). Whatever the meal, plates have always leaned on more technique and inventiveness than often seen in cafés, with dishes built on three-or-so ingredients defining a menu with a cohesiveness that suggests Howard thinks deeply about how to raise the stakes.
Dishes are pared back, often built around three or so ingredients, and the menu has a cohesiveness to it that suggests Howard is a deep thinker about what he can offer that’s a cut above for this timeslot.
Breakfast might have seen Manjimup rainbow trout, for example, garnished with fennel pollen and served with a tangle of pickled fennel, cucumber and a dollop of sour cream. Or house-made smoked sausage served with pickled peppers and sweet, textural polenta.
Now lunch is the main event, dishes such as milk-braised lamb shoulder with broad beans and ricotta, or spring vegetables with ajo blanco have grabbed the spotlight. Food is complemented by a small-but-smart booze list, while well-made coffee and breakfast from the takeaway window again prove that this is one Onion with many layers.