They say insects are a sustainable food choice of the future. Keeping this in mind, I braved eating crickets for the first time at El Publico in Highgate.
El Publico is a modern Mexican kitchen and bar located on the popular Beaufort Street in Highgate. It has a superior reputation among the foodie community as being pretty much the best place in Perth to get new-wave, upmarket styled Mexican that isn’t overly Westernised nor comes with the sombreros and mariachi tunes. They are renowned for their great range of different meals and concoction of flavours.
Further enforcing that they are no ordinary standard Mexican bar… is the fact they serve a rare delicacy here that seemingly no where else in Perth offers – and that is crickets. That’s right, eating crickets is a thing. Yes, crickets, of the insect type, once alive, but now dead, cleaned and chili-salted for consumption.
Curious and spontaneous as I am – I went here with a girlfriend for the first time to suss it out and to eat crickets for the very first time!And guess what – it wasn’t that bad. In fact, I really liked it.
Prior to going, I did a little Google research on crickets to find that apparently they are the “future of food” due to their high-protein nutrients and being environmentally-friendly sustainable. To put their protein into a comparison; Crickets are around 62 to 75% protein, while a traditional beef steak offers 54 to 57% protein. Read more about why eating insects is good for our body, environment and future here.
Once you get past the ‘ew’ factor of what you are biting into – you’ll find that this is some high-protein cuisine that is organic and actually pretty tasty. Keep in mind about 2 billion people in the world eat insects on a daily basis. Mexico has the world’s highest number of edible insects and when you think of these insects like you think of caviar, prawns and escargot (snails) you won’t consider them so odd (in Mexico, fried crickets are typically rolled into tacos or gobbled by the handful). The Western world is now just getting onto the benefits of crickets especially, so join in on the insect revolution and give it a try like I did.
Fried crickets with chili salt. Some say it tastes like “nutty, textured popcorn”.. and that’s not too far from the truth. It does have quite the earthy flavour and is very crunchy.
If eating insects ain’t your thing (or you’re not in the mood for experimenting), other snacks available are street prawns, guacamole tomato salsa tortilla chips and fried chickpeas with burnt tortilla salt.
Beef Mogo Mogo with Chipotle Crema $16
The Beef Mogo Mogo is apparently their most popular dish, so of course I got it and it didn’t disappoint.
The slow cooked beef brisket is essentially like a meatball with dipping sauce, but it is enhanced by the subtle added flavour of banana. It left a delicious aftertaste in the mouth and this is one dish you must get on the night if you don’t feel like experimenting with crickets.
And let’s not forget about the cocktails and tequila! I ordered the Tequila with Freshly Pressed Apple cocktail $10 to accompany the food, and it was absolutely fresh and delightful.
Their bar leaves you spoiled for choice with a range of tequila choices (as well as wine, beer and other cocktails). It is said their margaritas are the best in town, but I’ll leave that up to you to decide.
Overall, the food here is so tasty and fresh with really unique flavour combinations. The service was exceptional with staff friendly, helpful and very chatty with us. When I asked questions about where the crickets came from to two different waitresses, both enthusiastically divulged with lots of information. The atmosphere was lively with cool music and cosy decor. It’s a really ‘buzzing’ bar. This is a great bar and share plate restaurant. I definitely recommend you to try the crickets and mogo mogo balls.
Keep in mind, their menu is designed to be about sharing. Oh and they also warn you to not ‘fool around’ with their hot sauce, because it is really, really hot. I know this personally because I tried a smidgen of it and my mouth was on fire.
When I go back, I’ll be trying the street prawns.
El Publico Bar
511 Beaufort Street, Highgate
Monday to Friday; 5pm til late
Saturday: 4pm til late
Sunday: 4pm til 10pm