You know what I’m sick of? Burning a hole in my wallet due to overpriced, sub-par food. You know what I love? Cheese… and lots of it. So you can probably understand how stoked I was when I learned that Mike O’Hanlon and the team behind The Bird had opened an eatery that specialises in toasted cheese sandwiches that don’t cost an arm and a leg to nibble on.
Toastface Grillah is located in what is arguably Perth’s most “Melbourne” alleyway, Grand Theatre Lane. It’s a prime location smack bang in the middle of the Perth CBD, just opposite the train station, right near the corner of Wellington and Barrack Streets. Anyone who’s frequented The Bird will recognise the vibe instantly; the decidedly rustic alleyway and façade are what I would describe as “street-smart”. It’s a place that’s low key, low maintenance, and packs flashes of wicked graffiti, but it doesn’t come across as pretentious either. It’s intimate, warm, full of character, like being in a friend’s living room. The service ain’t half bad either, with the same cool, collected, efficient and above all friendly team that helps make The Bird stand out.
Limited to a 30-minute lunch break, I was initially worried when my friend (let’s call her Kofi Dawkins for the sake of anonymity) suggested we eat there. It’s a five-minute CAT each way, or a 15-minute walk according to Google Maps, transport methods that would leave 20 or 0 minutes for actual consumption of food respectively. We went with the CAT, and I was amazed by the fact that we could get in, order a sandwich and coffee each, and be consuming said sandwich and coffee within minutes. I was blown away when said sandwich and coffee came to just $11.50; I got to go back to the office with more than lint, receipts and my Smartrider in my wallet. But most importantly of all, it was a meal that satisfied.
I went with the Apple & Gouda ($8). It was simple – cheese, ham, onion and apple – but it was oh so delicious. The bread was coloured and crisp, the cheese was perfectly melted and stretchy like you see in the cartoons, the ham was rich and meaty – throw in the apple and you’ve got a classic combo that works. The on-the-house chutneys were packed with tang, with five options on offer. The two we sampled were delicious – the first a yellow pickle concoction and the other a robust, oozy savoury jam. Other options start at just a fiver (for the Vegemite and Cheese), and cover a host of favourite cheeses like Brie, Blue, Cheddar, Gruyere, with other fillings and vegetarian options available too.
The coffee was a bargain at just $3.50: a flat white nailed to perfection – smooth, balanced, frothy. It’s just a shame that competing outlets feel they have to charge many dollars more than that for an inferior brew. But hey, now you know where to go instead of your shitty local café that charges in excess of a pink note for dirt, milk and water in a polystyrene cup.
Eaters on a budget, busy city workers or anyone simply looking for a delicious bite… rejoice – Toastface Grillah is a masterstroke. I’m sure imitators will spring up, but they’ll struggle to match the vibe, price point and quality Mr O’Hanlon has on offer here, and you can guarantee there will never be a better name for anything than Toastface Grillah, whoever coined that should be given the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature. I can’t fault this for what it is, and it’s only been open for a handful of weeks, so can only get better.
I give it nine members of the Wu Tang Clan out of nine.