The Fremantle Arts Centre is a magnificent structure that is full of history and rich in the blood of convicts, the mentally unstable and the elderly. A depository that did not discriminate against society's "unwanted", it seems. Built in 1864 by convicts, it went through phases from being a jail, an asylum, a women's home, and on and on until today, where it is now the Fremantle Arts Centre. For more on the history, click here.
We came here on a lovely Saturday with the sun smiling down on us but there was still a cool breeze that rustled the leaves above us. Canvas is a cafe that is nestled within the walls of the arts centre, a sort of indoor-outdoor cafe.
There are seats inside but as you peer into the dark hallways, there's something unsettling about sitting in the dark, somewhat drafty rooms. And besides, with the beautiful garden tucked out the back, why would you opt for the former?
For a small share between the two of us, we had salmon with slices of mandarin. I can't quite remember the name of this one but it was a stand out dish with the two flavours complementing each other wonderfully, leaving a feeling of freshness about.
And for mains, we had to have Canvas' signature dishes which are available all day. The Red Shakshuka has two eggs poached in an eight-hour tomato sauce and the Eggs Flamenco has two eggs poached in buttered spinach, melted feta and fresh herbs. We also ordered an extra of chorizo with the Red Shakshuka! Yummy! They were both served with bread, marinated olives and the most delicious garlic butter that we generously slathered on our bread. Perhaps a bit too generously.
Red Shakshuka with Chorizo
After lunch we wandered around a little and had a chat with some regulars which is where we learnt a little about the history of the arts centre. It was fascinating and sent me on the search for a more detailed outline of the history. When "asylum" is mentioned, my interest is usually piqued.
The service here was good with polite and happy staff which is always a win in Marinda Leigh's books. Overall, the food is great and the coffee passes with flying colours but the best part of dining at Canvas Cafe? It's definitely sitting outdoors, underneath the towering trees that shade us off from the brunt of the sun and looking ahead to see beautiful, unruly roses winding up along the walls and intertwining with the other plants to reach higher and higher towards the sky. All the greenery and freshness gives off a relaxed vibe and you feel like you can stay there all day, drinking coffee and reading a great novel or writing up some wonderful story; Perhaps another Harry Potter-esque story in the making?
Price $$ ($ per main)