“We really wanted to create something with our own identity,” says sommelier Sarah Atkinson. On Wednesday, Atkinson and her husband Liam opened Le Rebelle, an intimate restaurant and wine bar on Beaufort Street. If early signs are anything to go by, the husband-and-wife team has succeeded.
In light of the recent closures in the Beaufort Street precinct, Le Rebelle’s arrival is cause for celebration, not least because the Atkinsons are both long-serving hospitality troupers with a combined CV that includes Print Hall, Ku De Ta, Star Anise, Miss Kitty’s Saloon, Kitsch Bar and Lalla Rookh.
“I’ve been here in Perth forever, and I’m super passionate about the WA hospitality scene,” says Liam. “A lot of my ex-colleagues and friends have left for other cities where there’s a stronger hospitality industry, but I’ve always wanted to stick it out here and give back to Perth.”
Le Rebelle, inspired by the nostalgia and romanticism of the old-world bistros of New York and Paris, has transformed the old Circa site opposite The Astor Theatre. The narrow building is now divided into three sections: there’s a casual drop-in drinking space in the front; a fully-fledged dining room at the back (a small original stained-glass window separates diners and the kitchen); and in the middle is Circa’s original handcrafted wooden bar and ornate ceiling, alongside a new 10-seat terrazzo high table which the Atkinsons hope will host plenty of lively evenings.
“There’s definitely an element of fun to it all,” says Liam. The couple intentionally arranged tables closely to bring some boisterousness to the room. “It’s what felt right for this space. We think all good restaurants are a bit rebellious.”
This attitude shouldn’t go unnoticed with a name like Le Rebelle, but to be on the safe side the pair has “snuck in a few details that’ll take you by surprise”, according to Liam. Small share plates sport the restaurant’s name in black italics, as well as the catchword “Romantica!”: a term coined during initial branding exercises that has become part of the restaurant’s identity.
“Romantica started getting thrown around when we were trying to explain who we wanted to be,” Liam says. “And it stuck. It’s a nice point of difference – a bit of a twist on the idea of having a romantic night out. It can mean more things than just a romantic, formal dinner – that’s not what this space is about.”
Instead, Le Rebelle is about comfort, satisfaction, and affordable quality. The menu, like the mood, is influenced by New York icons such as Balthazar and Estela, featuring bistro classics prepared with great ingredients and modern flair. Think blue manna crab on brioche, for example, or Wagin roast duck and frites with a silver gravy boat of bearnaise.
“Quality is very important to us,” says Liam. “We’re using the best produce and it’s a high-end offering, so you’ll pay for certain things, but we’re trying to make it as affordable as possible. We want it to function as both a six-days-a-week pop-in kind of place if you want, or it can be for special occasions.”
Wine is also a major focus at Le Rebelle. Sarah has agonised over a tight list of 49 thoughtfully selected bottles with an emphasis on French, European and Australian producers.
“I’ve focused on approachable, fun wines that are very drinkable,” she says. “I want people to be able to wander down and look at the list, and have it be accessible, while also harbouring some more special stuff for those who want it.”
676 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley
(08) 6161 3100
Tue to Sat 4pm–11pm