When veteran bartender James Connolly told the world he was opening a neighbourhood (wine) bar in Bassendean, he said his aim was to create a place locals would love. Based on the response to Bertie, Connolly can tick that KPI off his to-do list. Paul Lim of Mata Design has conjured a typically crisp, streamlined design that feels modern but not sterile; the food and drink offering is based on the familiar, yet free of cliche; and the crowd is a mixed bag of ages and tastes. It’s hard to tell whether they’re all locals, but then again, living in or around to the 6054 area is entirely optional to having a good time at this upbeat 120-seater.
“The local community’s been great and super supportive,” says Connolly about Bertie’s first month. “I think most of them are just genuinely happy to have some somewhere of this ilk to go to in their own neighbourhoods, and invite their friends down to Basso to hang out. They’ve been very welcoming and lots of people have been introducing themselves. It’s been great.”
Of course, our man isn’t the first bar owner that’s opened close to home – Connolly and his family are also locals – but he does bring considerable drinks experience to the party including time running small venues (El Publico, Defectors) as well as overseeing larger spaces (Long Chim, Market Grounds). This know-how manifests itself via cordial service as well as a considered beverage offering. The cocktails and mixed drinks are about subtly tweaked classics: the Negroni is infused with pineapple and garnished with rosemary, the dirty Martini is fortified with a touch of manzanilla sherry, and a refreshing rhubarb-based Pimm’s Cup analogue is served on tap. The beer list celebrates longstanding Bassendean brewer Nail Brewing and other Australian beermakers, while Rahuul Prasad’s (Vincent) broad by-the-glass wine selections chime with Bertie’s neighbourhood wine bar aspirations. (Even if referring to Bertie as solely a wine bar seems like an undersell.)
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The food offering is another detail that marks Bertie as a destination neighbourhood bar. Then again, you’d expect that from a kitchen run by a chef that’s clocked time at Melbourne fine diner Vue de Monde and local good times wine haunt Shadow Wine Bar. Although Bertie’s overall vibe is European, a subtle British thread ties together Anthony Yuill’s opening menu. There’s Welsh rarebit and a Cumberland sausage, for instance, plus steak served with a bone marrow gravy. In addition to throwbacks to Yuill’s British heritage – prior to moving to Perth as a teen, Yuill grew up in Croydon in South London – little nods to Japan help ensure the menu isn’t pub-grub-by-numbers. Rice vinegar electrifies a cool salad of radishes, and late-summer tomatoes are crunched up with toasted white sesame seeds. The mushroom parfait is enriched with no small amount of mirin, a Japanese cooking wine; and the brilliant house-made Scotch egg is armoured in panko.
“Flavour is paramount and there are no restrictions on that,” says Yuill. “It’s about bringing up stuff from the memory bank and trying to refine it as much as possible.”
Among the things guests can look forward to: Yuill’s riffs on that English favourite, coronation chicken, more movement on the drinks side of things, and the return of warmer weather and more chances to make use of Bertie’s enticing al fresco area.
Wed & Thu 4pm–11pm
Fri to Sun 12pm–11pm