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Young at heart
Despite growing up in Perth, I’ve never really explored what East Fremantle has to offer. When I think of Fremantle – South Terrace, the markets, and the Esplanade are generally what first come to mind. However, just a short distance away from the main hub, there’s a treasure trove of venues to explore.
Young George in East Freo is a unique neighbourhood treasure. Joint owner and executive chef Melissa Palinkas developed her passion for food watching her mum. After her first kitchen job at the Brass Monkey, she travelled and worked overseas in London and Dublin for a few years, before returning to Perth to take the head chef position at Mash Brewing in the Swan Valley and later became head chef at The Cabin in Mt Hawthorn. It was from here that she developed her signature style of using eclectic ingredients to produce hard-hitting flavour combinations.
We went in for lunch on a Friday and, while the place was busy, found a great seat on the couch, overlooking the open bar and kitchen. The décor has a modern yet rustic feel, with exposed brick, concrete and granite. The atmosphere is laid back; however, it’s clear that Melissa takes the food side of things seriously. She strives to use only WA sourced ingredients. To do this, she seeks out growers and farmers directly. Many of the specialty ingredients, such as the Boston pickling cucumbers, Tokyo turnips, red belle radish, heirloom carrots and micro herbs are sourced from a non for profit organisation that is based in Fremantle, called Growing Changes. They are just one of many food producers that Melissa works with, and allow her to keep her menu vibrant, and fresh. This also means the menu changes regularly, to keep up with seasonal shifts in produce.
The first dish that came to the table was the spiced maple carrots. The flavours of the carrots and maple syrup provided a pure, natural sweetness that were complimented by the tart citrusy flavour of the freekah. It was an unusual dish that balanced a number of strong flavours perfectly. This was a great start to our meal, and it certainly demonstrated Melissa’s skill in creating tasty and original dishes.
Next up was the asparagus with whipped split peas and feta. The dish was surprisingly creamy while maintaining a clean freshness. While the dish stood up on its own, I would recommend getting this dish when looking for something that’s good to share. This dish went best with the 2014 Susana Balbo Crios Torrontés wine.
The final dish we tried was the beef short ribs. A rich and decadent dish cooked in tamarind, which is a spice commonly used in Indian cooking that actually originates from the Sudan in tropical Africa. The ribs are served on a bed of sour cabbage, this dish once again skillfully balanced juxtaposed flavours and brought out the best in every element on the plate. This was my personal favourite of the dishes we tried.
There’s a lunch and dinner menu that’s available Tuesday to Sunday, and also a breakfast menu Friday to Sunday. There are also loads of specials each week, so check out their website before you visit to see what is on. The thing that caught my eye was the Sunday ‘Ground Hog Day’, where slow cooked wood roasted pork is served with cider. The dish changes with the seasons and so as the weather warms up it is shifting to being a pulled pork pancake with zucchini sweet corn buttermilk slaw, smokey bbq sauce and pickles.
The menu always contains at least 5-6 vegetarian options, and they are happy to modify dishes to suit specific dietary requirements. The venue is kid friendly, and suitable for dining with mates, functions, corporate meals, dates, and local drop-ins. Young George is certainly a great place for people who are excited by interesting and unusual foods, and want to experience Melissa’s “flavour bomb” culinary skills.
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