For ages I have wanted to visit Budburst Small Bar in Mount Hawthorn. I’d heard and read some really great things about their food and wine offering and had even driven past a few times and thrown some longing glances its way. From the front it looks fairly pint sized, but as we found out when we arrived to dine recently looks can be deceiving and while the front bar section is on the smaller side it does then extend into another dining area and there’s also some outdoor seating along the side of the building. Plenty of space! We were shown to a table in the dining room, which overlooks all the action in the kitchen. I quite like that arrangement, let’s you sneak peaks at all the culinary action, makes it a bit of a show.
As the lengthy wine list was going to take some serious contemplation we decided to be crazy…… haha well crazy for us and order something we’d never ordered before. That’s right folks, it was time to turn our attention to gin and tonics. They had a few listed on the drinks menu and the one with rosemary and black pepper took my fancy, while GG went with the grapefruit option. Soon as we had a sip we were both sold. Why hadn’t we ordered one of these before?? Really seems like the natural progression after sparking a love affair with Aperol Spritz to shift the bitter into high gear with a gin and tonic. They were both lovely and we savoured the new flavour with our chosen citrus or herbs and spiced infusion, while snacking on house marinated olives.
The bowl of olives were accompanied by two cocktail sized forks. It was indeed a very dainty way to enjoy olives and they were well seasoned.
We then turned our focus to the menu and we asked the friendly waiter for guidance on the number of dishes to order. We decided that yes, we were hungry and ordered five of the small plates to share. There were eight on the list so instead of trying to eliminate three we played a fun back and forth game nominating dishes to include. Ahh making choosing dinner a game. Fun times. After some careful consideration we ordered:
- Blue swimmer crab, mushroom flan, hazelnut dressing ($15)
- Braised pork belly, wilted spinach, pickled red onion ($15)
- Goats cheese, pesto, beetroot, cocoa soil ($10)
- Cured ocean trout, fennel, blood orange, pearl barley ($12)
- Rare beef tataki, baby courgette, oyster mushroom, semidried tomatoes, white anchovies ($16)
Then we were going to order a bottle of wine to share with dinner and my handsome dining companion narrowed it down to three bottles – all of them red, all of them Italian. He clearly has a type after our visit there and I can’t blame him because it’s where I realised I liked red wine, so I was totally on board. Thankfully Jesse who works at Budburst is incredibly knowledgeable on the wine front and was able to provide comments on the three wines on our short list. After some deliberation we went with the sangiovese, which was thoughtfully decanted for us. It was a lovely drop.
The five dishes arrived in fairly quick succession. While this worked on the I was hungry front, it did give us the impression we could potentially be in and out in about half an hour if we’d wanted to be and it was Saturday night and we had a more leisurely dinner in mind. And look, it was workable, we just noticed they were a prompt bunch was all.
We started with the ocean trout and the thinly sliced pieces of vibrant orange fish had been artistically presented, drizzled with chive infused oil and sprinkled with crunchy kernels of buckwheat. The flavours were fresh and lively, teaming up beautifully and with careful consideration given to all the textural elements, so it was a really interesting bite. First impressions had me well impressed.
The beef tataki looked a treat with the ribbons of meat creatively arranged in the dish. It was a tender delight and I completely loved the zesty flavours of the mushrooms and the salty tang from the white anchovies. It was an elegant medley of beautiful flavours.
As a big cheese fan I was keen to see how all the flavours in the goats cheese dish would work together. Would cocoa soil and pesto really go with goats cheese and beetroot? The answer simply put was yes. There was sweetness from the beetroot, there was a subtle bitter crunch from the cocoa, herbaceous tones from the pesto and an indulgent creaminess from the smooth goats cheese. It was a fork full of contrasts that came together to kick goals. Flavour goals.
The crab dish was visually quite different to what I have imagined, but again I really enjoyed what they had done with it. The tender crab meat was nestled on top of a light mushroomy flan and there was a sauce with hints of coconutty goodness and it just worked.
We ended with the pork belly. A chunky piece of indulgent pork had a perfect crispy crackled top, along with delicious soft tender meat. Pork belly is a fattier meat so it was pleasant to have the offsetting tang from the pickled red onions, made it well balanced.
While we had thoroughly enjoyed all the dishes, given our ravenous appetite they hadn’t taken too long to devour and we were enjoying our night out so decided the perfect answer of how to stretch out our evening was cheese. Ahh cheese, what can’t you do! We had decided to go with three types (A36) and so they brought out their larger board for us to choose. With four on offer I felt kind of bad for the one that did make the cut, but there would be another day for cheddar. Served up with fresh pear, piccalilli and a house made apple compote it was the delicious dairy inspired way to end our visit. Lingering conversation over some tasty cheese, while savouring those last few drops of Italian vino.
It had been an entirely lovely debut visit. A special meal out with my special someone. There’s a real welcomeness to Budburst. Genuinely friendly and knowledgeable staff who are more than happy to help and with a tasty and interesting menu it is worth calling in for a visit. I look forward to heading back soon.