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The Pearl of the North West
I have fond memories of Broome from my last visit many years ago and jumped at the chance to go there again to review Matso’s Brewery. We stayed at Kimberley Accommodation’s Moonlight Bay Suites, across the road from Matso’s, just a short walk from the town centre. Over the course of the long weekend we sampled breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes at Matso’s, enjoyed a beer and cheese tasting session, and an Oktoberfest with German food and live bands.
The Pearler’s Breakfast (named after Broome’s pearling industry) is a man-sized, hearty breakfast of poached eggs, pork chipolatas, grilled tomato, bacon, spinach, sautéed mushrooms, hash browns and sourdough toast. We shared this between the two of us and still couldn’t quite clean the plate. Another great breakfast option was Matso’s Pancakes – three large house-made pancakes dripping with maple syrup, some delicious berry compote and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
As it was a warm day we decided on the delicious Seafood Greek Platter for lunch with a refreshing glass of Matso’s Pale Ale. The light, crisp, citrusy beer cut through the oily flavours of the Greek Platter, piled high with a mixture of marinated rainbow olives, green pickled mild chillies, filo pastry spinach and feta rolls, tzatziki, grilled ciabatta, Greek salad, marinated octopus and grilled king prawns.
The other lunch dish we tried was a vegetarian option. The Open Roast Vegetable Sandwich, with mesculin, goat’s cheese and tomato chutney on sour dough bread was a surprisingly good dish, which Scott thought was the best match with Smokey Bishop, a dark ale whose bitterness perfectly offset the sweetness of the roasted vegetables and balsamic reduction.
Later that afternoon we joined a group of beer and cheese lovers for a very enjoyable session called ‘The Brewer and the Cheese- maker’, and sampled Matso’s beers matched with a range of cheeses from Yarra Valley Dairy in Victoria. Pearler’s Pale Ale, an easy drinking mainstream product with less bitterness but more hops, was a good match with Saffy – a marinated cow’s milk cheese with saffron, cumin seeds and garlic in a soft creamy feta style. Matso’s unique Lychee Beer’s mild bitterness cut through the salty flavour of the White Savourine – a semi-mature white mould goat’s milk cheese with a very strong salty taste, a firm rind and a soft interior.
Mango Beer is Matso’s best seller. This much sweeter beer went really well with Le Jack (another semi mature white mould goat’s milk cheese), which is a softer cheese with milder flavour, much less robust than the White Savourine. Made with a wine base, Matso’s Ginger Beer (number one in Australia) makes a great mixer for cocktails, and is a very refreshing drink on a hot day, with a bit of a ginger bite. This was perfectly matched with Bullseye, a semi-hard mature cow’s milk cheese, quite hard Gruyere-style cheese – fantastic with the ginger beer, which made it melt in the mouth.
Smokey Bishop’s dark chocolate and caramel tones were matched with Vintage Savourine – a mature white mould goat’s milk cheese, and a harder, dryer version of the Savourine. The final combination was Matso’s Chilli Beer – an “in your face” chilli flavoured wheat beer, matched with Gentle Goat – a fresh goat’s milk cheese – to ameliorate the burn of the chilli. I loved the cheese, but the beer was a bit too fiery for my taste.
The brewer told us about some of the combinations of different beers they have come up with at Matso’s, including Angry Ranga (Chilli and Ginger beers), Angry Bishop (Chilli and Smokey Bishop) and Chango Beer (Chilli and Mango beers).
The next day we went back to try some of the dinner menu. Fish of the Day was Grilled Tuna – a stunning looking dish with the vivid purplish red of the lightly seared fish and red lettuce salad, surrounded by wedges of potato and topped with a poached egg. This very flexible dish could be eaten with either beer, wine or ginger beer. We had it with a rather nice 2013 Castelli Riesling from Porongurup (near Denmark in WA).
My favourite dinner dish was the Chango Mussels, made with Chilli and Mango Beers, and a squeeze of lemon for extra zing. If you like it hot, you can pair it with Chilli Beer, or if not, have a Mango Beer to lighten it.
We had a good chat with head chef Sebastian Schacher, who has been at Matso’s since 2012. Originally from Goerlitz (the eastern-most town in Germany), where he did his apprenticeship at an Italian restaurant, Sebastian first came to Australia in 2008, visiting the east Coast and working on a cattle station for a while. He came to Broome in 2011 and worked at ZooBar at Cable Beach, before getting sponsorship from Matso’s as Sous Chef for a year, becoming Head Chef in January 2014.
Sebastian’s favourite dish (also the most popular dish on the menu) is the Beef Cheeks. He said creating the Fish of the Day is a challenge he enjoys. Prawn Linguini is also very popular, and the Steak Sandwich and Quinoa Salad are the most popular lunch dishes. The menu changes seasonally, and when we spoke to Sebastian he was in the middle of creating a new menu. He said that it’s basically good quality pub food at Matso’s – rather than fine dining.
On the Sunday it was Oktoberfest at Matso’s – three bands, traditional German food (sausages, schnitzels, sauerkraut) and beer in steins. The capacity crowd of locals and tourists got into the spirit of things, with many in traditional German outfits, and a good time was had by all.
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