13/03/2007 - 22:00

Harlequin team puts experience to work

13/03/2007 - 22:00

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Former Sheraton executive chef Fritz Hansal says the service dished up at many Western Australian restaurants is poor. But he thinks that presents him with an enormous opportunity.

Harlequin team puts experience to work

Former Sheraton executive chef Fritz Hansal says the service dished up at many Western Australian restaurants is poor. But he thinks that presents him with an enormous opportunity.

Mr Hansal and his wife, Katherine, bought the site of the former SubiCentro’s Panache Café about four months ago, along with former Sheraton banquet and events manager Paul Schreuders.

The trio reopened the venue as Harlequin Café Bistro, with Mrs Hansal in the driver’s seat for three months while Mr Hansal and Mr Schreuders continued to work at The Sheraton.

“We would be at The Sheraton by day and the come here at night; they were long days,” Mr Schreuders says.

But, as of last month, Messrs Hansal and Schreuders are now on deck full time, alongside gregarious oyster shucker Jerry Fraser, who has given up on many years shucking at various restaurants around town in favour of a full-time job with Mr Hansal.

Mr Hansal believes his years of experience and that of his wife, Mr Schreuders, Mr Fraser and recent English immigrant head chef Andrew Warner, will mean there is always someone with a wealth of knowledge on staff to deliver a quality experience for customers.

“You can have the best modern designed restaurant there is but I think it is the knowledgeable service that has the real impact,” Mr Hansal says.

“We have made a conscious effort to have a good percentage of mature staff here. We do not rely on school kids.

“It shines through when the customer walks through the door because we believe in personalised customer service. We want to know who they are and remember where they like to sit.”

Mr and Mrs Hansal have continued Panache’s food hamper service and have also entered the corporate catering market, including boardroom catering and functions.

Harlequin also offers a dedicated oyster menu with Mr Fraser shucking fresh oysters at the cafe every lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday.

But don’t expect the popular shucker to be tied down in Subiaco every day.

He and the team at Harlequin have helped design a special mobile oyster shucking unit that will allow Mr Fraser to shuck oysters at events such as food and wine festivals, like this Sunday’s Feast Perth festival in East Perth, for example.

As for the main menu, Mr Hansal says the cuisine is contemporary Australian with an emphasis on seafood.

“It will move with the seasons and the menu will change every month,” he says. “It’s quality and it’s fresh; we buy some of the produce from the market next door.”

A confirmed lover of good wine, Mr Hansal plans to expand the cafe’s 56-label wine list out to 100.

He is also planning regular wine dinners, with the first featuring a range of De Bortoli Wines scheduled for May 22.

Mr Hansal was with the Sheraton Perth for five years, first as executive chef and more recently as food and beverage manager. He says setting up his own restaurant has been something he has wanted to do for quite some time.

“This is much more relaxed,” he says. I can make decisions quicker, there’s no more red tape, just red wine.

“This place is sophisticated but without all the fuss. I don’t like the protocol of eating and having to conforming. Just come in and have fantastic food, good wine and service. You can stand up and eat if you want.”

Harlequin is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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