It’s been another big year of eating out west: just ask the hard-working kitchens that have spent the past 12 months feeding diners. While chefs around Perth are looking forward to some time off over Christmas, many of them will be using the long break as an opportunity to tick some names off their to-eat lists. Here’s where some of the best in the west are spending their hard-earned this summer.
Amy Hamilton, Liberte
I’m that classic chef who loves food but rarely eats out. Owning a restaurant and living 500 kilometres from Perth also gives me a slight handicap, so I’m afraid my list of places I’d love to visit in Perth is embarrassingly large. If I had to narrow it down, my choices would reflect a mix of exciting new venues and personal faves I’d love to revisit.
I’d start with Mummucc. I love the pared-back dining philosophy, food and vibe of Monsterella, plus I have a massive industry girl-crush on [owner] Tania [Nicolo]. This new venue’s just gotta be good.
I wonder if I’m the only person in WA yet to visit Le Rebelle? It reminds me of the classic yet hipster modern French vibe Vinny Dotolo, Jon Shook and Ludo Lefebvre nailed in LA a few years back with their French bistro, Petit Trois.
Now that I’ve finally finished grieving about Guy Jeffreys leaving the pans at Millbrook Winery, I’m excited to revisit the menu under the watchful and very talented eye of Jamie Hembrow. Jamie had my heart when he fed me a piece of toasted bread smeared with smoked-pork schmaltz on the balcony at Guy’s house last year. The boy can cook.
Baan Baan may be as close to a Southeast Asian food adventure I’m going to get all year. It’s always cool when a great little hardworking market enterprise becomes so popular it transforms into a restaurant.
Joel Valvasori-Pereza, Lulu La Delizia
KCH in North Perth is a place I’ll be back to soon. Great modern hawker food with a touch more flair in the cooking. And I’m hoping to get back down to Manuka Woodfire Kitchen. [chef] Kenny [McHardy]’s flavour is bankable. It’s been too long. I just wish the restaurant was closer to Perth and wasn’t closed the same days we are.
Brendan Pratt, Vasse Felix
I need to get back to Chow’s Table to eat [chef Malcolm Chow’s] sweet and sour pork and mapo tofu. I know it’s not the most summery of dishes, but it just tastes so good. As a first visit, I’m excited about getting to Hearth. Le Rebelle is also on the hit list as I haven’t had the chance to get up there yet. When two industry pros open a place, it’s always a must. I also want to try and get to Madalena’s as I’ve only heard good things.
Kenny McHardy, Manuka Woodfire Kitchen
I am bursting at the seams to get down to Margaret River in January. I have a lot of boxes to tick. Arimia, Wise Restaurant, Chow’s Table and Vasse Felix are just the beginning of my to-do list. I. Cannot. Wait.
Nic Wood, Santini
Over the Christmas break I always try to head to the south-west and delve into the foodie scene there. A tried and tested favourite is Margaret River’s Vasse Felix. Chef Brendan Pratt is extremely talented and has similar values to me when it comes to exhibiting amazing WA produce. You can’t go past the aged kingfish wing with a smoked-eel glaze and mushroom XO sauce.
Recently, Burger Bones did a pop-up at QT Perth and its new Busselton home should be an amazing addition to the south-west. The habanero smash patty is the standout: it’s the best burger I’ve ever eaten.
Le Rebelle is another name on my summer hit list. Liam Atkinson is a great chef who has extreme talent in the kitchen. There’s not much on his menu I don’t love, but the duck-liver parfait – buttery, rich and smooth – is a standout.
I’ve already been to Double Rainbow at the newly opened Rechabite performance space, but I can’t wait to go back. The menu is very adventurous and refined. When I’m there, I order the lesser-seen items like ox tongue and chicken heart.
Monika Cook, Shadow Wine Bar
Ooh Coffee is my favourite pre-work or post-swim coffee stop. It has everything I could ask for: casual coastal vibes, consistently good coffee and the best bagels and toasties. It’s also open most public holidays.
I’m looking forward to spending an excessive amount of time at Le Rebelle over the summer. The food here is delicious and beautifully executed. The service gets the balance between friendly, efficient and informative. I’m usually here getting a late-night crab toast or trying the latest special.
I recently visited Hearth for breakfast and can’t wait to get back for dinner. Light and seasonal, the breakfast table – cured fish, charcuterie, cheese, pastries, juices – is out of control. I’m really enjoying the fresh dining options the city’s new hotels are bringing to Perth.
Scott Brannigan, Bread in Common
There’s no shutdown for Bread in Common over Christmas: we’ll only have the public holidays to rest and spend some time with the family. Having said that, my parents are over from New Zealand, so over the free babysitting periods, I’m planning on ticking off a few restaurants on my ever-growing to-do list. After hitting Propeller for breakfast, we’ll be checking out Le Rebelle and Petite Mort. In Fremantle, I’m planning on taking dad out for a good feed of seafood at Kailis Fish Market, plus I’ll be getting a drink at Darling Darling bar on Henry Street.
Sandro Puca, Social Manna
In the time that I’ve been heads-down nurturing Social Manna – we just turned one earlier this month – many great places have opened. One of them is Le Rebelle. Liam Atkinson is the new king of French bistro and you can’t beat his crab toast and chicken-liver parfait. I love his ’80s throwbacks, such as the prawn cocktail and îles flottantes (“floating island”, a French dessert of meringues in custard). Lulu La Delizia’s Instagram visuals of undulating, luscious folds of pasta and sauce really whet my appetite, too.
Chris Howard, Panama Social
I keep to a mostly liquid diet after the Christmas bedlam. Midday breakfast soup is the perfect start to a day off. I really enjoy Wonderbowl: super fast and really consistent. I haven’t had a bad meal at Thanh Dat either. The tori paitan (chicken) ramen at Tosaka is super delicious, and if I need a Hunan hit, I go to Chilli Panda on Newcastle Street. My liquid diet will probably see me either underground at Foxtrot Unicorn or in the sunshine at Wines of While.
Liam Atkinson, Le Rebelle
Over the Christmas break I’ll be heading down to Mandurah and sticking with the folks, but after that, I want to try to get up to the hills and get up to Mason & Bird. The guys there are so underrated; I never get there as much as I’d like. Two of the front-of-house are from Rockpool, and Brad [Johnston] was head chef at Print Hall. I always go straight for Brad’s fried chicken burger. I also want to check out new places like Hearth at Elizabeth Quay. It’s been all-go in the six months since we’ve opened and I haven’t done enough eating out. I’m also definitely going to check out Shadow Wine Bar. I’ve heard Monika and her team down there are doing some really good stuff at the moment.