NOT many restaurateurs would want to compare their operation to an ugg boot, but its a comparison Miles Hull and Clint Nolan are only too happy to make of their newly acquired restaurant, Harvest.
They’ve just bought the eatery from Michael Forde and have spent the past few weeks doing a spot of renovating. Among the changes are better indoor use of natural light, an open kitchen, and new furniture.
Bricks that once covered windows have been taken out, there are new chairs, new paint, new art on the walls, a new garden area, new bar, new new new.
Yet when you walk in there’s nothing that appears to be gleaming and sparkling new, apart from its new faces.
All the chairs are mismatch. All the tables are rustic.
Everything has been designed to give this restaurant the old-world feel. And, matched with a rustic menu, it’s a restaurant that would be as much at home on Melbourne’s Brunswick Street as it is on Harvest Road.
According to Mr Hull, family members spent some long, hard hours sanding back chairs, while the antique shop across the road helped stain the tables to ensure they looked the part.
But comparisons to a pair of ugg boots is more about making the restaurant a comfortable place to relax and have a quality meal.
And for those not up with the latest fashion trend, the ugg boot is ‘in’ at the moment, worn by hip celebs and stars.
In a similar vein, the restaurant aims to be a fashionable favourite.
“This place attracted us because it could be on Brunswick Street; it has that feel to it and it fitted what we wanted to do, a rustic diner with eclectic food and artwork,” Mr Nolan says.
“It’s not pub food, it’s modern European that’s very rustic.”
Sweetbread and pistachio-filled pork hock, braised ‘plain Jane’ cabbage, rhubarb, apple and chilli sauce, scotch fillet medallion, wild boar bacon, chimichurri, quail’s egg, and chorizo on smashed potato cake are just a few of the menu items.
There are other moderately priced tempting bites and, as the menu indicates, “prices include government intervention”, which gives an indication of the good humour these boys have brought to the Fremantle icon.
There’s also a ‘to-do’ list on a blackboard fixed on a wall. After the first item on the list – ‘buy a restaurant’ – come other important milestones, such as securing a liquor licence.
The pair ticks off each job done. Still awaiting check-off is “install new kitchen and bar”, while “sit down for five minutes” finishes the list.
“It’s more of a neighbourhood spot where you can come in three nights a week and not be intimidated by the wait staff or the person sitting at the next table,” Mr Nolan says.
“You can come in and enjoy it and do it more than once a week, just like they do in Melbourne.”
Murray Gill and his wife, Juanita, established the restaurant six years ago. It was taken over by Michael Forde earlier this year, who then sold it to Messrs Hull and Nolan after they had approached him.
Mr Hull says they had searched Melbourne and Perth for a suitable site to grow the business they’ve both dreamed of for years.
The men have been friends for several years and have travelled in Canada, together and separately, but decided to pursue their own business interests, waiting for an opportunity in Melbourne to present itself.
“I was working for Little Creatures in Melbourne and we had looked around there. Then I came back to Perth for Little Creatures and I began looking around here,” Mr Hull says. “I asked around and heard Michael [Forde] might want out so I called him and we bought it.”