You may have seen our posturing PM pontificating about climate change issues not being solved by inner City elites sitting around in wine bars – I thought that a bit rich coming from a bloke who has so far achieved, to use the colourful phrase beloved of one of his own Ministers, three fifths of bugger all – but it does give me the excuse to talk about wine bars! So, for all my fellow elites out there, if you are at a loose end, here are a selection of the best around the traps.
Let’s start in Subiaco where late last year award winning winemaker Larry Cherubino established his eponymous City Cellars – above Simon Johnson in Rokeby Road, but with entry down a laneway and through doors off the rear car park. After climbing the stairs (and there is a lift as well) you enter a very attractive space – with a clear roof so you can watch the clouds scudding by, display fridges to one side, wine racks to the other – for this is a bottle shop as well as a bar, then a long bar, tables and chairs, and a couple of rooms off the end and to one side where private functions can be held.
As you would expect there is an extensive wine list – everything on the shelves can be consumed on premise for an additional fee, and a well thought out, and changing, selection by the glass. On a recent visit Larry’s own Rosé and Riesling went down a treat.
The food is also absolutely on point – caviar for those feeling flush – with a couple of fabulous small dishes we enjoyed – sardines on toast you say? Well yes but these are a cut above my canned breakfast fish – Italian wild caught Pollastrini di Anzio sardines, served on ciabatta and on a white bean purée – brilliant!
And then an amazing Shark Bay crab jaffle, with a little spice to zip up the luscious filling of succulent crab, served with crême fraiche, and which is now one of my dishes of the year!
Ahh jaffles – that brings back childhood memories, although the jaffles we had as kids in Margaret River were baked beans, canned spaghetti, mince or tomato and cheese. This is a wine bar/bottle shop not to be missed. And the jaffle!!
OK, lets move on – onto the train and into Northbridge and just around the corner from the Cultural Centre, part of the Alex Hotel complex, is the exceptional Shadow Wine Bar.
It has a slight industrial feel – exposed concrete, attractive tables, chairs and booth seating, with a long bar, at which you can sit and eat, on one side and at the back partitioning the rear wine bar from the dining room, a wall of racks and wine. It is all clean lines, well lit, welcoming.
The wine list and menu change regularly; the wine list is, I reckon, one of the better around and with a very good by the glass selection; while the food shows innovation, flair and panache.
Try the delectable juicy kingfish ceviche, thinly sliced kohlrabi, spicy chilli oil.. this is a kitchen of real skill and ability. Great surrounds, extremely professional and knowledgeable waiters, excellent food and drink – a must for all lovers of good food and wine.
Now back out into the sunshine and a short stroll up William Street to one of my perennial favourites, No Mafia now relocated to bigger premises-more spacious, but without losing its small Italian bar feel, welcoming outside garden area and the veranda where I have spent a lot of time sipping and watching the passing parade of William Street.
This has been one of the most consistently top performers among the many small bars in Perth and from my recent experiences in the new digs will continue along that happy path – the food is always on point, with a Southern Italian slant, naturally; the wine list is one of the best around – not extensive, but changing regularly and always offering choices that you may not otherwise see around town – they certainly support small producers and are leading promoters of natural wine.
And of course, but by no means last, the staff – they are without exception at the top of the profession. Friendly, welcoming, knowledgeable, always willing to help with wine and food choices. The fish carpaccio, with almonds and grapefruit was luscious. And wine? Well, there is a veritable treasure trove each time I visit.
Onwards up William Street, a bit more of a walk this time to Wines of While a beacon for lovers of natural wines by both emerging and established winemakers from Australia and overseas.
It is only a small place but has a few tables out front on the footpath for sunny days, a stringy bark bench that serves as the bar, and wine racks breaking up the space inside. Did I mention it is a bottle shop as well?
As well as serving wines by the glass from the black boarded specials any bottle can be bought and consumed in-house – each is marked with an in-house price and a cheaper, takeaway price if you are wanting, for example, to dine at one of the myriad restaurants a short stroll away or just take some home.
The food menu is small, simple, and suited to snacking while sampling one or two of the wines on offer – and if the white beans are on the menu, they are essential! Wines of While is a must if you are a lover of natural and organic wines – the range they have is spectacular and the simple, rustic food absolutely complements the wine.
Our final stop is a hop, step and jump across Bulwer Street to the most recently opened of these bars – Vincent. With a nod to Parisian style, Vincent has an inviting courtyard, eye catching bar and a small interior dining room.
The menu is small and a salute to bistro style food – you will find terrines, charcuterie, burrata as well as some larger dishes. The tuna carpaccio, watermelon, cucumber, avocado cream, olive dust hit all the right notes.
As for the wine, it is overwhelmingly sourced from France and Italy, but with some excellent Australian examples as well. A glass of Single Vineyard Riesling from one of the Great Southern’s best wineries, Dukes, a case in point. Although a little limited by the glass Vincent has a great range of drinks – Get along and hang out in the courtyard.
Well that’s that for the moment – I am off to one of the bars to meet some fellow inner city elites, sip and chat about shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings, and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings…and the cost of doing nothing! Over you, SloMo.