“Wait, isn’t that a bar? Aren’t those guys a bottle shop? And hasn’t that place been around for as long as Home and Away?”
These are just some of the questions readers might ask themselves while perusing Broadsheet’s annual round-up of Perth’s best new restaurants. As the dust settles on an eventful 2019, one thing is certain: eating options have never been so diverse, both in terms of style (neotropical Latino, anyone?) and street addresses (good eating is, once and for all, no longer just an inner-city thing in P-town).
Here’s our look back at the year that was, presented in chronological order.
Deftly handled seafood plus natural wines multiplied by a breezy setting in walking distance of South Beach equals the neighbourhood bar of our dreams. Technically, Madalena’s opened at the end of 2018, but to not include it in a discussion of the best openings of the past 12 months would be just criminal.
As would ignoring the arrival of Panama Social, another bold newcomer from the Tiny’s and Mary Street Bakery crew. While revellers guzzle rum, tequila, pisco and cocktails containing parts thereof, Chris Howard keeps the party going with jerk chicken, Caribbean flatbreads crammed with raw beef and great empanadas.
Lightning, it turns out, can strike twice. It happened when Tania Nicolo and Ryan Bookless opened Wembley’s wildly popular family pizzeria Monsterella in late 2016, and it happened again this year when they introduced locals to Mummucc’, an Italianate small bar a few doors down from the mothership. Come for the handmade pasta, stay for the A-1 drinking.
How does one categorise King Somm? That’s a tough one. It’s a bar. It’s a bottle shop. But most of all, it’s the new kitchen for much-liked local chef Ben Atkinson, who’s serving great, sparsely-topped pizzas and Italianate plates in a relaxed, easygoing space. And the people of Bayswater lived, ate and drank happily ever after.
Automatic is a restaurant for the people. Very little on the menu of Italian comfort staples (handmade pasta, good pizza, chicken cutlet cooked on the bone) is going to shock or surprise diners, which is precisely why this South Perth trattoria does a roaring trade across the week.
What does it take to be the best new restaurant of 2019? Start with a strong but accessible concept – “Our whole vibe,” said owners Sarah and Liam Atkinson to Broadsheet in June, “is like Paris meets New York in Australia” – add professional yet personable service (hi Sarah) and sharp cooking (hi Liam), then garnish with a comfortable, cosy space. The result? A new-school French bistro any city in any continent would gladly claim as its own.
After paying their dues on the market food scene, Bangkok Jump Street’s Wanwipar “Dao” Thanasothorn and Punchita Wangpaichitr took the plunge and opened this bricks-and-mortar restaurant serving the home-style Thai cooking they grew up with. Think fiery nam prik (chilli relish), whole fish and polished curries.
An alumnus of high-powered kitchens Wildflower and Adelaide’s Orana, Pete Morgan elected to get back to basics with his first restaurant, Rusty Pig. Open-fire cooking is the game, and dishes such as buttery corn spiced with chaat masala and bread soaked in lamb fat tip the odds squarely in diners’ favour.
Kailis Fish Market Cafe
Forget everything you thought you knew about the original Kailis Fish Market Cafe at Fremantle’s fishing boat harbour. The 2019 remake captures the spirit of the original, but modernises it with lesser-seen fish species and cuts (fried fish wings anyone?) and luxe dishes such as sea urchin waffles and rock lobster salads.
Subiaco’s famous Witch’s Cauldron rises from its garlicky-prawn ashes as Dilly Dally, a family-friendly tavern with plenty of Lalla Rookh DNA. Original wooden floorboards and shades of terracotta give the space a timeless appeal, ditto Peter Hajdu’s menu of puffy pizzas and Mediterranean good times. Here’s to you, golden and juicy Hamlet Pork cotoletta.
My barbies are never like this. The bread is Tip Top rather than made with spent grain from the nearby brewery; the pork is in sausage form, not a crazy juicy loin that’s been cooked over coals; dessert is another tinny of Export rather than a Cherry Ripe-inspired crème brûlée. Then again, this is the signature restaurant of the new Ritz-Carlton Perth, and journeyman chef Jed Gerrard and his team are coming very, very correct in the kitchen.