IN the heart of Freo, you find yourself spoilt for choice with food options.
With such a large selection in a small area, it can sometimes be hard to decide which places are worth hitting or skipping.
So on one sunny afternoon my food-loving friend Preslee and I strolled up Market Street. Our intention was to venture into High Street Mall. But when passing The National Hotel, both mine and Preslee’s feet stopped. The idea of frolicking up at the rooftop garden bar, especially on such a fine afternoon, won us over.
While I have had enjoyed coffee, cocktails, beer, and nibbles at The Nash in the past, I was excited to see what heartier pub-tucker their menu offered.
It’s a five-floor stair climb, or elevator ride up to get to the rooftop of the 137-year-old Hotel.
But I am thrilled to report the climb is so worth it. The area is decorated and spaced well with a mixture of lounge, bench, and bar seating. In the corner is a small bar that serves a few local and international beers on tap, along with a fun but pricey cocktail special board ($23- $19).
The menu’s offerings of five different burgers, premium steaks, pastas, fish of the day, tacos, sliders, and various other share plates equate to an impressive pub menu. There are also pub classics like fish and chips, and the chicken parmi. For a pub, seeing several vegan and vegetarian options is not all that common. But veggie and plant-based foodies should know they can be fed at The Nash with loaded salads, burgers, pastas and a thoughtful assortment of small bites like Cauliflower Bites ($16) and Sweet Potato Fries ($13).
The rooftop garden we agreed was gorgeous, with its must-see views of the inner Freo and its scenic surrounds. Basking in the sun and fresh air, Preslee and I enjoyed the on tap local lager from The Courthouse. It was zippy and deliciously cold.
Staff were always attentive and friendly. Food was out quick too, and we had decided on burgers.
Off the bat we saw the portion was a little small for price, but the burgers while compact were presented with juicy fillings, soft brioche buns, all amongst a smile heap of crisp chips.
Preslee’s National Burger ($26), did the house name proud. “It’s a classic done well. The paddy is moist, the house sauce is tasty and there is the perfect amount of it. Fresh tomatoes, and lettuce too,” she said.
My Vegan Mushroom Burger ($26) was a pass, but I probably might go for something else on the menu.
The vegan cheese did manage a melt, but … yeah … while combining guacamole and beetroot hummus with a mushroom was just too much mush.
Perhaps some charcoaling of the mushroom and swapping a filling for a chipotle mayo would improve the texture and flavour.
Chips we agreed tasted like Maccas fries (take that as you will). Not outstanding, but without a doubt you will eat them all.
The Nash was a tad pricey, but I will be back because the venue’s ambiance alone was a feast for the senses.
Afterwards we decided, to stop by the new Chicho Gelato across the road. And I am glad we did.
With its old limestone walls exposed and given a fresh new life, and the colourful red entry, the Gelateria is a welcomed addition to the strip.
Recently branching out to Freo, Chicho’s original Northbridge parlour made a name for itself with its curiously creative and classic gelato flavours, with a focus on whole and seasonal local ingredients.
Espresso is also a point of pride. The team member was happy to recommend us flavours, and generously offered multiple samples. We decided on Dark Chocolate Nougat and Cappuccino ($6 single scoop).
We also paid extra ($2) for a drizzle of melted chocolate, and it was worth the extra pinch.
I thoroughly enjoyed my already buttery waffle cone, but with that extra chocolate coat it was magic.
Dark Choc Nougat was decadent, and the occasional crispy honey macadamia was an absolute delight.
Preslee said Cappuccino also tasted great, and that means something because she is a barista (naturally a coffee snob).
I will continue to explore around High Street Mall, but The Nash and Chicho’s should be added to your hit list.
The National Hotel
98 High Street, Fremantle
1 Cantonment St, Fremantle