2784 Albany Highway, Kelmscott
Ph: 0405 787 787
French without the Pretense
Nicko’s Kitchen is the creation of chef patron Rob Nixon – ‘Nicko’ being the Aussie abbreviation of his family name. It started in 2008 as an online cooking show and has since expanded its offerings to include a Nicko’s Kitchen food truck, and now a restaurant. Positioned on a corner of the Stargate Shopping Centre in Kelmscott, the restaurant has been open since Mother’s Day 2021. Rob could hardly have picked a more fitting date to open his first restaurant, because it was his mother and nanna who taught him to cook, setting him on the path towards a career in food.
Rob has long been a champion for WA produce and his restaurant is no exception, being a proud member of Buy West Eat Best. The menu has a heavy French influence and is made almost exclusively with local produce, with not a white truffle or a foie gras in sight. The compact and great value drinks menu features just one brewery (Beer Farm) and one winery (Harvey River Estate), both quality WA producers. Everything here feels open and honest – the walls are adorned with pictures of Rob and his family, and the doors to the kitchen are always open.
We started with the Fromage Blanc Tart which was served with juicy, de-skinned cherry tomatoes and herb dressing. Made with cheddar, gruyere, parmesan and cream cheese – the tart was uber-savoury with a caramelized surface and tender interior. The dish was expertly paired with a 2020 Harvey River Barbera, which was my first experience with this dry, fruity Italian Red varietal and definitely not my last – I absolutely loved it.
Our first main course was a Pork Belly with Crackling, served with potato dauphinoise, honey-glazed carrots, and apple sauce. The pork was perfectly seasoned, moist, tender and topped with crispy crackling that shattered to the bite, while the tricolour of carrots added visual appeal. The dauphinoise – a stack of thinly-sliced potato cooked with the gratin technique – was satisfying and flavourful without being too rich.
Next up was the Chicken Chasseur – a homely and heartwarming dish of seared chicken breast, served with a creamy wine sauce, al dente green beans, root vegetables and silky Paris mash. The chicken breast may have been the juiciest I have ever eaten, having been cooked in a sous vide before being finished in the pan with butter, olive oil and thyme. Both main courses were matched with Harvey River Estate’s 2021 Rosé, which provided a pleasantly crisp contrast to the lushness of the food.
We finished our meal with the most popular dessert at Nicko’s Kitchen, which is simply called ‘Nan’s Lemon Tart’. I love a dish that comes with a story and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. A generous wedge of lemon tart was served with double cream and plated next to a small wooden bowl, containing a lemon half, fresh lemon juice and a dark green leaf. These represent the magnificent lemon tree that grew at Rob’s nan’s house – the tart is her recipe. Dry ice was poured into the wooden bowl upon serving, which looked amazing and filled the air with the aroma of lemon – heightening my anticipation. The lemon tart was light, tangy and incredibly moreish, I might have ordered another had I not been so full.
Nicko’s Kitchen is open for dinner Wednesday to Saturday. I couldn’t recommend it more highly, the quality of food, friendly and efficient service and value-for-money are all top-tier.
By Jeremy Sambrooks