What makes a restaurant pretentious? It’s more than just expense. Expense does not automatically imply pretentiousness. What does is prices that vastly outweigh the quality of the food they’re attached to and the service it comes with. By this definition, The Raw Kitchen in Fremantle is pretentious/10, and then some.

Fashionably unfinished in its interior design, The Raw Kitchen contains various items of comfortable but mismatched furniture, and plenty of floorspace to accommodate large groups. Surprisingly for what is essentially a shed, it was very easy for our large group to hear each other even with all the ambient noise from the moderately busy restaurant.

There aren’t many other positive things I can say about The Raw Kitchen. The service was perfunctory at best, and we found the waitstaff inattentive and absent. Indeed, after waiting close to half an hour after “Are you guys ready to order yet?” “Not yet, we just need a couple more minutes,” we eventually flagged down another waitress, who would ultimately go off a few times to find the one assigned to our table, before finally giving up out of understandable frustration and taking our mains orders herself.

Out of courtesy to my friend who organised the event as she was keen to give the place a try, I went into this experience with cautious optimism, which was more than a number of our other friends did. Unfortunately, by the time our mains arrived, any good feeling I had left went out the window. I had ordered the Raw Nachos ($25). $25. $25. Now, when you go somewhere like, say, Zapata’s in Northbridge or Fremantle, $25 will net you a huge, hot plate of nachos with beef or chicken, a pile of guacamole, a full stomach, and some change for half a cocktail. The raw nachos was five or six dollars worth of ingredients, cold, in a bowl. Some mashed up avocado, beans, diced tomato, and 8 organic corn chips – into contact with which expensive gas and electricity do not come – do not even come near to justifying the outrageous price tag. Similar reactions were had to the pesto pasta ($25), and pad thai ($25). The only reasonably priced things on the menu were, astonishingly, the alcoholic drinks.

Looking at the menu again, I still struggle to comprehend how a raw dish can cost more than a hot one of equivalent serving size. Is it because of all the bonus organisms and germs than don’t get killed in a normal cooking process? On the subject of serving sizes, they were utterly laughable. When a group of ten can spend the GDP of a developing nation and still all feel hungry, they’re going to wonder whether it was a sensible investment.

The problem with The Raw Kitchen is that there’s nothing wrong with any of their food, per se. I could easily have made the raw nachos at home, and presented them just as well, but they were pleasant to eat, and this was the same feedback given by the rest of the group about their meals. But the prices and the poor service kill any desire I may have had to go back there. It is a colossal rip off that sees the proprietors laughing all the way to the bank. How people can continue to go back again and again and not be awake to the massive con job being perpetuated in front of their eyes absolutely astounds me. If you are going to pay the sorts of prices for the size of servings we received, you also expect to be given decent and efficient service, and food that is special.

I was thoroughly disappointed by The Raw Kitchen. I will never return there and have no qualms in saying it is one of the most outrageous rorts in Perth today.