The confluence of a mining boom and the liberalisation of licensing laws has sent energetic Perth restaurateurs and bar owners into overdrive, with small bars, restaurants and coffee shops opening with amazing regularity.
Locals are rethinking their breakfast, lunch and after-work habits – and the new enterprises are proving a boon to business travellers and holidaymakers. Nightlife, too, has upped the ante, with new bars such as
Helvetica, Venn, LouVe, the Terrace Lounge, XO and – a little further afield – 399, Five Bar, Clarence’s and the Ellington Jazz Club. Two major projects on the Terrace – Print Hall and City Square – will see more than $10m invested in at least 16 new venues in the next year. Here are the newest, brightest and best of the Perth inner-city dining scene.
100 St Georges Terrace, Perth.
+61 8 9481 8333.
Imaginative dishes, bold flavours: chorizo, red peppers and spiced bean calzone (breakfast); grilled haloumi, beetroot, poached wheat salad (lunch); half-spatchcock, rosewater, jewelled quinoa (dinner). The kitchen is open most of the day. Open: Mon-Sat. Licensed. Mains $10-$28. To drink A tiny, constantly changing list with Australia’s top emerging winemakers (Timo Mayer, SC Pannell, Luke Lambert) and Europe’s trendiest (Felsina, William Fevre, Loosen Bros) on it, plus Dom Perignon, Pol Roger and Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé.
1/64 Bronte Street, East Perth.
+61 8 9325 4900.
Perth’s finest restaurant offers only a degustation menu (with a vegetarian alternative) and is full of surprises: a beetroot salad with cocoa and coffee granules, powdered olive oil, beetroot
leaf and watercress. There’s an interplay of textures and balance between the earthy juiciness of the beetroot, the savoury coffee and the cocoa’s dry sweetness. Courses are small and refined,
such as lightly poached gold band snapper with pan-fried Rottnest scallop, or roasted Amelia Park lamb loin rolled in onion ash. Open: dinner Tue-Sat. Licensed. Degustation nine courses $125pp (matched wines $70pp extra). To drink International wines by the glass and an impressive range of Champagne; cutting-edge producers from Australasia, Europe and the Americas.
Basement Level, 21 Howard Street, Perth.
+61 8 9481 0092.
The pick of the CBD’s small bars, with an impressive array of drinks, first-rate tapas and lively music. Marvellous small platters: jamón, fresh oysters shucked to order, and rich, creamy seasonal croquettes with a dipping sauce. Two mains are offered as daily specials. Open: lunch Mon-Fri, dinner Mon-Sat. Licensed. Lunch bookings. Tapas $6.50-$29.To drink Gin, vodka, rum, tequila, bourbon and whiskies;
a seasonal cocktail list and a wine list with 30-plus by the glass. Unexpected choices are a 1990 white Rioja from Lopez de Heredia, a 2006 Dashe Zinfandel (California) and a 1990 Grange.
26 Stirling Highway, Nedlands.
+61 8 9389 5517.
Excellent tapas – Spanish olives, platters of jamón and a well-crafted oxtail empanadilla – is
not the main game. Rottnest scallops, lightly pan-fried and served on a bed of white bean puree with spicy sofrito; smoky zucchini, walnut and feta pie is fresh, light and earthy; the fabada (bean stew) is rich and satisfying. Open: lunch Friday, dinner daily. Licensed. Mains $15-$65. To drink Spanish varietals dominate the list, but there is room for Australasian cult wines (Felton Road, Cherubino, Pressing Matters). Sherry, cava, verdejo, godello, tempranillo, monastrell and garnacha all showcase Spain.
6 The Esplanade, Perth.
+61 8 9421 1206.
One of Perth’s best dining places. A starter of blue cheese toffee (crab) apple is imaginative; a tasting platter has morsels of unfettered flavour such as a dice of braised lamb on a tiny chick pea crêpe. Dishes offer complex texture and flavour – an earthy rabbit bolognese topped with a parmesan crisp and fresh watercress, surrounded by fresh borlotti beans; and lamb loin pan-seared with a mint and chilli sauce; the rosy pink duck breast is a pleasing contrast to the crêpe-wrapped duck leg. Open: lunch Mon-Fri, dinner Mon-Sat. Licensed. Mains $23-$36. To drink First-rate list of Champagne (1996 Salon, Ayala Zero Dosage, Egly-Ouriet Blanc de Noirs); less well-known local rieslings (Trevelen Farm, Pressing Matters) and overseas superstars (FX Pichler, Egon Muller); similarly for nebbiolo, tempranillo, pinot noir; about 14 wines by the glass.
Sentinel Bar & Grill
St Georges Terrace & William Street, Perth.
+61 8 6103 0507.
Classics of the French bistro – French onion soup, twice-baked goat’s cheese soufflé and crème caramel. Beef from the grill gets star billing. Open: breakfast & lunch Mon-Fri, dinner Mon-Sat. Licensed. Mains $24-$43.To drink Six beers on tap. About half the wine list is from France. Selections include Paul Bara Champagne, Pichot Vouvray and Rimauresq Rose; 16 by the glass.
Lamont’s Bishop’s House
Spring Street & Mounts Bay Road, Perth.
+61 8 9226 1884.
This magnificent 1859 building overlooks tranquil gardens. Kate Lamont’s reputation is built on fresh, seasonal produce served simply yet with flair. Highlights include wafer-thin, lightly seared wagyu beef drizzled with a chardonnay vinegar dressing; whiting fillets topped with lemon breadcrumbs and served with crispy potato croquettes and dill aioli. Open: lunch & dinner Mon-Fri. Licensed. Mains $34-$46. To drink Lamont wines are well-represented and the small list has cutting-edge Australasian producers (Greywacke, Ostler, Paul Nelson, Izway) and classics from Grosset, Pierro and Leeuwin. Dom Pérignon and Krug; 16 offerings by the glass.
Must Wine Bar
519 Beaufort Street, Highgate.
+61 8 9328 8255.
The quintessential Perth wine bar against which all others are measured. Its list touches every significant wine region of the world. The bar food (Baharat-spiced lamb cutlet, Ortiz white anchovies, steak tartare, gruyere croquettes) is influenced by the classic simplicity of the French bistro: chicken liver parfait, twice-baked lobster soufflé, chicken from the rotisserie and steak frites. Open: lunch & dinner daily. Licensed. Mains $36-$42.To drink exciting, challenging wines: 2010 Kerri Thompson Rizza riesling from the Clare and a 2007 Massaya Classic Red from Lebanon. 28 wines by the glass.The Champagne Bar offers the world’s finest by glass or bottle.
Labouchere & Mill Point Roads, South Perth.
+61 89367 5744.
A five-minute cab ride from the CBD, this elegant room has classy modern Brit cuisine, showing a mastery of classical technique, whether it’s a roast partridge breast with speck wrapping or braised partridge and mushroom pie. Open: lunch Wed-Fri, dinner Tue-Sat. Mains $27-$39. To drink A compact list balances exotic and local, superstars and emerging players. Clever choices by the glass and bargains in the reserve list.
Rockpool Bar & Grill
Burswood Entertainment Complex, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood.
+61 8 6252 1900.
The dry-aged beef from David Blackmore, Cape Grim and Rangers Valley is tender, full-flavoured and beautifully charred. Local wood fire-grilled delights include David Hohnen’s Arkady lamb loin chops and cutlets, and White Rocks veal cutlet. Desserts are among the country’s finest, and include a crisp, gooey, hazelnut macaroon that sandwiches banana ice-cream. Open: lunch Sun-Fri, dinner daily. Licensed. Mains $19-$160.To drink A 900-bottle wine list of rare breadth and depth covering the classics and difficult-to-source cult wines.
Source: Qantas The Australian Way June 2011