Well with Australia Day past, and everyone heading back to work and school, it seems opportune to look back on the year just gone and the best of what went down in 2017.
As far as bars and the like, well one of the most impressive we visited was Billie H in Claremont – excellent food and a fabulous wine list in great surrounds; No Mafia continues on its way as one of the best in Northbridge, along with Shadow just up the road. Both showcasing some brilliant wines, and No Mafia in particular holding wine tasting events for some of the best of the younger brigade of vignerons. Lot 20, Bivouac, the Bird, Ezra Pound and Mechanic’s Institute all combine to make the William Street precinct a destination for those seeking good food and drink.
And who could miss out Alfred’s Pizzeria in Barrack Street – great pizza and a fine drinks selection to accompany the food and Bob’s Bar – a great rooftop hangout in the Newspaper House complex on the Terrace.
A couple of new places opened late in the year which really set people talking, and so they should – Henry Summer in Aberdeen Street, a cooling oasis in the City, and Market Grounds in Kings Square leading the charge of new places to go to in the developing precinct between the train station and the Arena. While an old favourite, the Standard in Roe Street is turning out some of the best food in town in a friendly pub environment.
If you are looking for a pub of style and class outside Perth city, then the Federal and the National, both in Fremantle are well worth seeking out. And to the East, and in my immediate stomping ground – four pubs within walking distance of each other – the Rose and Crown with its outstanding beer garden, the wonderfully rebuilt Guildford (especially now it has seen off the awful spectre of McDonald’s in its back yard), the recently renovated Stirling Arms and the country style feel of the Woodbridge all are kicking goals.
Food wise we were particularly impressed with Subiaco new chum, New Normal, which also has a great rooftop bar, Lulu Delizia, also in Subiaco and with the best pasta in town, and Long Chim still the best Thai in WA. Chopsticks in Newcastle Street is one of the most impressive Vietnamese in Perth, with excellent food served in style.
Balthazar, in the Art Deco Lawson Apartments building, has some of the best food in town under the guiding hand of chef, Skye Faithfull, while across the road in Elizabeth Quay, very good food is to be had in the first floor restaurant in the Reveley complex and the waterfront Halo combines very good wine and food, with outstanding views.
And with views in mind, little can be better than those from the dining complex at Fraser Point, with Ku De Ta a standout. Blackbird too, in East Perth, on Claisebrook, has a lovely outlook, with good food and friendly service.
Outside the city and CBD the beautifully presented food at Indian restaurant, Chakra, in Inglewood deserves special mention – it is, along with Sauma in Northbridge and Mela in William Street (where I have had the best vada outside Little India in Singapore) the top of the Indian restaurants in Perth.
Bangkok Brothers in James Street, Six Senses in Leederville and Bangkok on William are at the top of the Thai spots around the traps.
Lalla Rookh is our pick as the best Italian in the City, while for Italian in the suburbs I reckon you cannot beat Prego in Floreat, Woodfire in Ellenbrook and one of our favourites, Kappys in Guildford.
Duende and Pinchos, both the Leederville are where you should be heading for excellent Spanish cuisine.
A couple of cheap and cheerfuls well worth a try are Hongkies in William Street where Flora is tempting palates with the food of her home town, Hong Kong, and KTown in Francis Street with very good Korean food. No to be denied are the long established Tak Chee and Good Fortune Roast Duck House, both very and deservedly popular. In the suburbs, and if you are looking for well-turned out Cantonese style food at good prices, Camellia in High Wycombe stands out. And for pizza, Louie’s Pizzeria in Guildford is hard to beat.
The State Buildings house some of the State’s best – the aforementioned Long Chim, Petition Kitchen, Post, the Treasury Bar, Halford and the highly regarded and reviewed, Wildflower. Here you can also find Petition Beer Corner, which along with Baby Mammoth in William Street, have the best beer selections in town.
The recently opened Intercontinental Perth has reinvigorated the West End of town, around King Street with two very good Spanish themed restaurants, Heno and Rey and Ascua, as well as an elegant and inviting bar, the Loft. Up that way the Stables remains as one of go-to spots, along with the Flour Factory, Caballitos and Varnish on King. And we await the long awaited reopening of the Melbourne at the corner of Hay and Milligan. I used to spend a lot of time there in my misspent youth.
We trained down to North Fremantle a couple of times during the year and the area just down from the station is a fabulous place to spend a few hours – with restaurants – Propeller especially and we will be back to try Habitué– bars – Mrs Browns, Mojos, Piggys Food Company, – antique shops, and one of the best bottle shops going around, Old Bridge Cellars.
Other wonderful liquor stores visited in the year include Mane Liquor in Belmont – which has as well as a great wine selection a simply mind blowing selection of beers; Petition Wine Bar and Merchant in the State Buildings, Wine Loft at the Cottesloe Markets where Terri Seeber is on hand to guide you through the outstanding wines on offer; in the Hills Gooseberry Hills Liquor always have a great selection of local wine; and La Vigna which has among other things the best display of rosé I have ever seen.
Perth is blessed by having such great wine regions close by – and in the Swan Valley, in particular, some very good winery restaurants – Sittella and Riverbank sit near the top, while Mandoon has a great restaurant as well as a top brewery, Homestead. The Perth Hills has the always brilliant Vineyard Kitchen at Brookside and a little further afield, at Jarrahdale, the stunning Millbrook, where Guy Jeffries’ No Waste Mondays are the stuff of legends. Newcomer La Fattoria at Pickering Brook should also be on your agenda.
The Valley also plays host to a few very good breweries – Feral and Mash among them, as well as award winning distillery, Old Youngs, and Funk Cider in the old Valencia vineyard grounds. Core Cider House in the Perth Hills has beautiful grounds, very popular as a wedding destination, a nice restaurant and also, of course, very good cider.
Since we are talking wine regions then heading South to the Great Southern and its centre point Albany, Liberté is simply a fantastic food destination – and great wine on offer too – while Due South and the Earl of Spencer turn out good pub food, indeed.
In Margaret River, Morries is a great small bar, with excellent food, and the Brewhouse a relaxing place to spend a few hours with good food and house brewed beer. There are some outstanding winery restaurants in the area, too, with Kneedeep and Wills Domain not to be missed.
Moving away from food and towards wine, some memorable wines have been consumed this year and some great wine events taken place. The latter included Wine Show by the Bay at the University Club, back after a year off due to renovations – the best wine tasting event in Perth, in my opinion, well organised, good selection of local and other wineries – friendly and knowledgeable crowd. And we were fortunate indeed to be invited to Tyson Stelzer’s Champagne Tasting at the Pan Pacific – stunning display of champagnes, what a day this was.
We also attended the black tie WA Wine Show awards dinner at the Hyatt – another fantastic night, with good food and award winning wines. The Young Gun of Wine show at Il Lido in Cottesloe was held again and proved as good as ever – a chance to taste some of the wines from Australia’s newest wine makers.
Among the best wines of the year were those from some of the State’s innovative wine makers – Larry Cherubino, Mark Warren from Marq, Ryan O’Meara of Express Wine Makers, Andries Mostert and Yoko Luscher from Brave New Wine, Andrew Hoadley of La Violetta, Remi Guise from Tripe.Iscariot, Ben Gould of Blind Corner, Julian Langworthy from Goon Tycoons, Jo Perry of Dormilona and Sam Vincuillo.
Of course we also had some brilliant wines from some of the State’s standard bearers – those of my all-time favourite winery, Moss Wood, as well as Cullen, Deep Woods, Vasse Felix, Brownhill, Xanadu, Victory Point and Woodlands from Margaret River. Dukes, 3Drops, Abbey Creek, Alkoomi, Frankland Estate, Galafrey, Gilberts, Singlefile from the Great Southern also cemented memories of top class wine; while closer to home we had some beauties from Myattsfield, Sittella, Houghton, Faber, Kosovich, Millbrook and Upper Reach.
Of course we don’t drink WA exclusively and I was very impressed with wines we tried from Schild in the Barossa (and we also attended a great wine dinner hosted by Judy Schild at Cocos), Adelaide Hills winery Unico Zelo, Greenway from the Hunter, Whistler and Small Fry, both of the Barossa, Down the Rabbit Hole and Ochota Barrels.
Most of my wine reviews are up on my Instagram account for those interested in more detailed tasting notes.
The other noteworthy event of 2017 – apart from a fabulous night of Jerry Seinfeld at the Arena – was the Fringe Festival – which has just got underway for 2018. We witnessed some brilliant shows last year and have plenty already booked for the coming weeks. This festival really brings Northbridge and other areas of the City alive – the shows on offer are many and varied, at great prices and really should not be missed. The place will be buzzing, it is one of the events of the year. Just get along, you will love it.
So, a few thoughts of the best food, wine and events of 2017 – 2018 will, I am sure, prove just as memorable, with our daughter about to have her first baby in February and our newly engaged son perhaps planning a wedding – all good reasons to celebrate, as if we need one!