Chase Weber isn’t a fan of formal restaurants.
“I don’t like fine dining in terms of white tablecloths and all that kind of stuff,” says the chef responsible for the two-month-old The Royal as well as Northbridge stalwart The Standard. “I’d rather be able to go somewhere and have amazing food at a nice venue that’s not pretentious. Somewhere you can enjoy yourself and have a bit of a laugh and not have to sit there with your back straight.”
Somewhere, perhaps, like Fleur, the 45-seat dining room inside The Royal that opens tonight. A mix of timeless and new, natural and human-made – floral installations from Fox and Rabbit, and paintings of people with flowers bursting from their shirts chime with the restaurant’s name – the room makes an ideal backdrop for Weber’s intricate cooking.
Although Weber cares not for the rigmaroles of fine dining, he and Fleur head chef Shane Middleton – a survivor of kitchens such as Dinner By Heston Blumenthal in London and Melbourne, Clarke’s of North Beach and Santini – have a firm grasp of kitchen technique and aren’t afraid to flex their muscle.
They’ll dress oysters in oyster cream and yuzu. They’ll grill good-sized Skull Island prawns, dress the crustaceans and use a sauce made from their shells to finish the dish. They’ll turn crab coral into a loose, savoury custard, produce an oil from the creature’s shell, combine them into some sort of magic and make home cooks wonder why they ever binned these alleged “scraps”. If it wasn’t obvious, seafood and Japanese flavours – there’s a lot of miso, dashi and soy on the menu – are key motifs, even though the kitchen is loath to pigeonhole its cooking style. One thing Weber does know is that he wants Fleur to be “fun”.
“I want it to be the place where you can come every couple of weeks and experience something different,” says Weber. “It’s not pretentious. Come and have a party here; come and enjoy it. Come with your friends. You want something intimate? We can offer that to you. Our staff are flexible and can give customers whatever dining experience they want.”
A comprehensive drinks list is part of the fun. Patrick Carpenter (Meat Candy, El Publico) is behind the cocktail menu, which includes half-sized Daiquiris (“snaquiris”) and Martinis (“mar-tinys”) designed for dinnertime enjoyment. The wine list, meanwhile, has the fingerprints of Royal owner John Parker all over it, with drops natural and conventional, local and international.
“It’s 2020,” says Parker. “You can have wine from all over the world. Let’s not pigeonhole ourselves. Who’s to say a Greek wine won’t work with seafood? It doesn’t always have to be an Aussie riesling.”
An eight-seat bar to the side of the dining room is on offer for pre- and post-dinner drinks as well as solo diners. In addition to the à la carte menu, two tasting menus are available. Lunch service begins in mid-February, and a raw bar is among the features flagged for the future.
Fleur is open from tonight.
Fleur at The Royal
531 Wellington Street, Perth
(08) 9322 1023