While writing this mid-year report card, one pleasing fact becomes very apparent: the criteria for what constitutes “good” continues to become broader, more inclusive and a lot more fun.
True, seven-figure fit-outs (when done well) can take your breath away, but so can a thoughtfully made falafel served in a kiosk next to a soccer pitch. And as fun as it can be to lash out on and surrender to a big-ticket tasting menu, there are times when a plate of crudités plus a glass of rosé at the bar feels like the most perfect meal in the world. Like those fitness influencers are so fond of saying, life is very much about #balance.
Here, in alphabetical order, are 10 of the most notable Perth newcomers that have turned our heads over the past six months, with concessions for a gun watering hole (Bar Rogue) that made its debut in late 2021, plus a kitchen in Busselton, that might just be the year’s most anticipated arrivals. It’s been a good start to the year. I’m not quite sure how the rest of 2022 is going to follow suit, but I can’t wait to find out.
“Knock everything down. Build new stuff. I will help. (With both)” This framed poster in the kitchen of Busselton’s newest kitchen exemplifies the spirit of Kirsty Marchant and Ben Ing, a couple that traded careers at the pointy end of hospitality for something a little more manageable and – dare we say it – sustainable. The result is Alberta’s, a warm-hearted space where good coffee, nourishing broths and glorious baked goods rule. The local you wish you could call your own.
Astral Weeks, Northbridge
Hiding in plain sight down a Chinatown laneway, Astral Weeks has quickly won over music fans, hospitality folk and drinkers who never realised they needed a hi-fi listening bar in their lives. Come to hear thoughtfully chosen records – all the staff are musicians or DJs – played on a carefully honed sound system; stay for beverages selected with similar care as well as the occasional guest chef cameo.
Bar Rogue, Highgate
Le Rebelle’s bar off-shoot is proof that the apple brandy doesn’t fall far from the tree. Like the mothership, Bar Rogue is deeply committed to good drinks and big-flavoured plates, only it’s free to look outside Le Reb’s Gallic lens. (It also doesn’t take reservations, so consider timing your visit for early or late.) The resurrection of Beaufort Street continues apace.
Goodbye Billie H, hello Corvo, a European-inspired bar and kitchen that’s helping reenergise Claremont Quarter. (Or at the very least, broadening eating and drinking options for locals and visitors.) While promising chef Rose Bass (say it “bass” as in the fish, not the guitar) serves grilled Wagin quail and brightens fish crudo with chilli and citrus, owner-sommelier Alo Simmulmann is pouring the good stuff from his smart selection of wines, beers and spirits.
Publican John Parker doesn’t just think big, he does big, as proven by his latest hit-out at the reinvigorated Karrinyup Shopping Centre. Split across two storeys, this 500-person pub is home to great views, house-distilled spirits and a menu of Asian-accented dishes that patrons can tuck into all-day on weekends.
Deli’s Continental, Inglewood
Carb-loading is rarely as enjoyable as a trip to this fresh-faced deli in Inglewood. After testing the waters as a pop-up, Aldo Putzu and Stev Makhlouta opened their shop in March, much to the delight of local sandwich-fanciers. Best of all, Deli’s opening doesn’t just mean full-time access to the boys’ benchmark contis, but also opportunities to feast on pizza, toasties and other top-tier baked goods.
Falafel Omisi, Yokine
Staying on the topic of good sandwiches, Falafel Omisi is another deli/kiosk that needs to be on your radar, at least if you’re saddened by the fact that falafels in Perth are all too often an afterthought. Here, they are not. Made in-house according to a Yemeni grandmother’s recipe and fried to order, they’re available in myriad ways including tucked into fluffy pita, as part of a falafel platter, or as a crunchy accent on plates of hummus (also made in-house).
Old Young’s, Swan Valley
Crocodile chorizo. Raw scallops sharpened with an oil made from native lemongrass. Kimchi brightened with finger lime: when it comes to celebrating native ingredients and flavours, chef Rohan Park has a more active imagination than most. Which makes an outing at the kitchen expansion of this forward-thinking distillery one of the best meals one can have in the Swan Valley. Go forth and discover.
Testun, Mt Lawley
This isn’t your nonna’s Italian wine bar. Heck, she’ll probably be aghast at the team’s fondness for the word “stronzo” in its communiques. But once she’s settled in and surrendered to Testun’s warm service, great drinks and menu booming with flavour – great house-made salumi! Flintstones-scale pork cotoletta on the bone! – hang-ups over rakish language will be a thing of the past. It’s party time.
Revelry is also the name of the game at Vinotto, the Swanbourne wine bar that the local community has annexed as its unofficial living room. As guests sip wines and drinks from and inspired by the Mediterranean, chef Justin Scarvaci keeps time with Euro-style small plates – kingfish with buttermilk, persimmon and dill, say – that make staying for one more a little too easy.