Category Archives: Perth

— Perth —

Mt Lawley – the shabby-chic discovery tour

WRITTEN BY EDITOR • MAY 5, 2016

  • Perth’s urban village for food, fashion and graffiti, the incomparable Mt Lawley,  seduces Fleur Bainger as she stops in at all the coolest haunts.

    It’s not unusual to spy colourful splashes of crochet randomly wrapped around the urban furniture in Mt Lawley.

    The area is decidedly shabby-chic and the outdoor knitting is just one case in point. There’s also a rich mix of hipsters sporting beards and tatts, alternatively dressed designers and funky baby boomers walking pooches with attitude.

    They wander past vision-filling street art and quirky sculptures that sit between clusters of independent stores and restaurant-bar hybrids. You could say it’s a mash up of Sydney’s Newtown and Surry Hills – with a decidedly Perth flavour.

    The community is fiercely proud and unwaveringly loyal – Mt Lawley is only four kilometres from the heart of Perth’s CBD, yet it has an altogether individual personality – and it attracts people like a magnet, having become one of Perth’s most popular urban villages.

    It’s where Heath Ledger, Hugh Jackman and Tim Minchin used to hang out (though not together, obviously). All three studied at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), only a few blocks from the neighbourhood’s jugular, Beaufort Street. A surprising number of the jazz world’s contemporary greats also got their start at the respected arts school.

    In 1901, Mt Lawley was officially named after the then-Governor of Western Australia, Sir Arthur Lawley. Word has it his wife, Lady Annie Lawley, only agreed to the area’s title on the proviso that no licensed hotels would operate within its boundaries.

    Her wishes were not enduring. The seeds of the Beaufort Street shopping strip were soon sown and by the end of WWII, residents were being replaced by small businesses. Printers, photographers, painters and decorators started moving in.

    As the 1970s neared, private car ownership snowballed and Beaufort Street became a popular artery in and out of Perth city centre – much like it is today. About the time flares were in fashion, and a younger demographic began renovating houses, reviving old shop spaces and subdividing properties.

    Clothing boutiques and other retailers opened up; restaurants, cafes and bars followed and word spread that this vibrant part of town was the place to be. Mt Lawley has maintained its swagger ever since.

    Mt Lawley’s cafe artery – Beaufort Street

    A meander through the neighbourhood means sticking almost exclusively to Beaufort Street, where the 40 kilometres per hour speed limit pays respect to pedestrians, who zig-zag from one side to the other.

    As the bitumen unfurls, it invisibly crosses over from Mt Lawley to Highgate, which is the second-smallest suburb in Perth, so it understandably feels as though it’s one and the same area. All locals regard Beaufort Street as a whole so we’re going to as well.

    Cheap and cheerful fresh flower shops beautify the strip’s southern end, while plastic buckets crammed with blooms spill onto the pavement on the Chatsworth Street corner, some bunches as cheap as $6 a pop. Our favourite flower hawker, Chatsworth Deli has been there for some 20 years.

    Enrique’s School For To Bullfighting, a quirkily named pop-up bar so popular it stayed, is a quick jay-walk across the road – get a cocktail there later. Its sister establishment, Beaufort Local buzzes day and night with caffeine hounds and cake lovers – its sweets display is equal parts quaint and humorous – and its food menu follows suit.

    Crossing back to the western side, dart into a laneway clad in street art that somehow looks like an illuminated neon sign, with light boxes on the walls rotating different artists’ works.

    Nearby, Solomon’s woos the dietarily restricted. Owned by a local (fairly famous) hip hop artist who goes by the name of Drapht, it does organic, vegan, raw, paleo, gluten- and dairy-free, but also serves red meat and fresh fish (and, gasp, it actually tastes good). Expect to see a lot of quinoa in the distressed brick surrounds.

    A few metres away, Elmar’s Smallgoods is an old-school time capsule, packed to the gills with mostly German cured meats, bacon slabs and bratwurst. The old guys serving are as friendly as they come.

    Follow the pumping tunes and bakery smells emanating from Mary Street Bakery, where you’ll undoubtedly buy a salted caramel-filled doughnut (you really should).

    Let the nightlife begin – bar and pubs

    Night brings a personality change: it switches to an Asian fusion restaurant serving tongue-in-cheek flavour-bombs including chicken wings injected with kewpie mayo; insanely good.

    It’s nearly as busy as nearby El Publico, a bar-cum-restaurant doing exceptional Mexican street-food. Don’t go past the corn esquites.

    Its neighbour, Must Winebar does fancy French bistro fare, but is mostly loved for the bar fly scene – it’s very much the place to drink Champagne and throw back fresh oysters.

    Directly opposite is The Queens, a big, traditional-feel pub with a large al fresco area perfect for beers in Perth’s sunny weather.

    Leave the tavern for later, particularly if you have a hankering for distressed homewares with tactile patinas in leathers and woods. Locally owned Empire Homewares sprawls over a two-level warehouse with imported or designed-in-house wares.

    Either walk off the retail urges, or embrace them and pop in to Kartique, a minute or two up the road. It’s filled with antique-style, handcrafted softwood furniture with a distinctly Eastern flavour and trendy homewares.

    Take note of Five Bar and Clarences across the road, the former a welcoming anytime hang-out, the latter more of a sultry after-dark zone.

    Where the locals go

    Snap pics of the whimsical dog and rabbit bronze (they’re riding a bicycle) and the giant concrete letters spelling Beaufort Street – you’ve no doubt seen plenty of crochet by now, too – and hike up to the corner, passing independent radio station RTR FM, and Planet Books, where hipsters keep the literary trade alive.

    Before the traffic lights you’ll spot the Flying Scotsman, an authentic dive-style pub that delivers excellent people watching, both inside and out. Grab a beer and sit outside.

    Next, mosey behind the IGA to the ‘local traffic only’ signposted laneway between Grosvenor Road and Chelmsford Road, where 30 artists have painted every back fence and garage door. Look for the pieces by Stormie Mills and Amok Island.

    By now you’re ready for retail. March over the crossroad to the fashion strip, stepping into the Picnic-Hobbs store for gorgeous leather women’s shoes on the right, and classic and basic threads on the left.

    Elroy, nearby, will keep the streetwear-loving man occupied (fun fact: it’s owned by UK musician Nick Sheppard, formerly of The Clash). If not, send them to Bossman for the strip’s best coffee (it’s a man-cave hidden down an unnamed arcade so they’ll be busy for a while).

    Finish up at Department, a well-edited compilation of Australian and international designer labels. Chunky knitwear by I Love Mr Mittens, feminine shapes by Mes Demoiselles and comfy, well-fitted jeans by Frame Denim may trigger impulse buying behaviour. You have been warned.

    Ooh! Look at that: it’s 5 o’clock. Beaufort Street’s bars are calling – time to shimmy back down the strip for a libation-focused education.

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    — Perth —

    Born in the USA… Perth’s best 5 American-themed bars

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • APRIL 11, 2016

    If you’ve got a Texas-sized hole in your stomach, we know how to cure it. Kirsten Hyam rounds up the latest trend in Perth: cool American-themed bars.

    1. The Blue Flamingo – Beach Boys go hipster

    Tucked down a side street, it’s hard to believe this little oasis is just minutes from the city. Take a seat at The Blue Flamingo where the drinks list is worldly and the South and Central American tapas plates are easy to share. Staff wear tropical shirts, pastel walls add a soft, beachy vibe, while palm fronds sway outside. It’s like one big open Mexican food truck mixed with a Miami beach bar. Rear 742 Newcastle Street, Leederville

    2. Alabama Song – Honey, you’re in the Deep South now

    Enter through the saloon swing-doors to discover that Clint Nolan’s latest venture is, unsurprisingly, another winner. Rockabilly tunes, dim lighting and one of the largest bourbon, whisky and rye collections in the state, Alabama Song doesn’t mess around. Take a seat at a comfy leather booth among the requisite Texas longhorn heads, but be warned, this ain’t the place for quiet conversation; country bands play from behind the chicken wire in front of a makeshift dancefloor. BYO flannelette shirt, y’all. Level 1, Rear 232 William Street, Northbridge

    3. Jack Rabbit Slim’s – Tarantino tribute

    An ode to cult fave Pulp Fiction, Slim’s is your quintessential 1950s diner with retro décor, neon signs and red leather booths, complete with a fries and shakes menu – but with an adult twist. The late-night eatery plates up classic and premium fries like Ragin’ Cajun and Gran Torino to match with a boozy (or virgin) shake with shots of Jameson and vodka. Head through the false fridge doors and there’s a live music venue. 133 Aberdeen Street, Northbridge

    4. Old faithful – Make like a Manhattanite

    It’s one of the very first bars to bring low-and-slow-cooked meats to the city. And we’re talking real slow here; meats are soaked in brine for 12 hours before being massaged with spices and flame-grilled for a day. Try the wagyu brisket or barbecue chicken. Naturally, a craft beer is the way to go when eating all this slow-cooked meat and there’s always the eponymous Old Faithful. It’s all served in a more refined take on the American smokehouse; you won’t find guitars hanging on the walls here. And don’t miss the incredible S’mores dessert. 86 King Street, Perth

    5. Varsity – Red-blooded hang-out

    This frat-themed sports bar offers up big screens playing out all the acronyms you could imagine – UFC, NBL, AFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and NFL. The entertainment at Varsity continues with pool tables, ping pong and PS3 games available to play. State licence plates hang above a giant US flag with graffiti also decking out the joint. The super-American, super-affordable menu pulls in the crowds (mac ’n’ cheese dog, anyone?) and special nights include $5 cheeseburgers on Thursdays, Pabst Blue Ribbon Sundays and Monday’s Dux Nuts quiz night, playing to the bar’s location right next to UWA. 88 Broadway, Crawley

    Still want more? Okay then, how about…

    • Miss Kitty’s Saloon: Head to this retro ranch joint at Inglewood to enjoy the maple-loving country’s signature dish of poutine.
    • East Village: Loud and lively, this place is NYC to a tee in Perth’s CBD. Everything about this place is New York – big food, big drinks, big atmosphere.
    • Brooklyn Lounge: A slick and stylish fit-out serving Italian-American fare in Claremont. Kick back on a Chesterfield with a suitably NY cocktail (Lady Liberty, Coney Island, Upper East Side Sour).
    • Decanter: Caramel popcorn waffles, pork belly bites, jerky, bacon and cheese balls, sliders, pulled pork; need we say more? There’s also a decadent Reese’s peanut butter cocktail.
    • The Old Crow: Grab some soul food streetside in Northbridge. Hush puppies, jerk chicken and brisket sandwiches, oh my!
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    — Perth —

    Review: The Shorehouse, Perth – a shore thing?

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • FEBRUARY 23, 2016

    Perth is synonymous with beaches, yet there are surprisingly few excellent ocean-facing restaurants. Fleur Bainger finds a stylish new arrival.

    They say you can turn up at The Shorehouse in thongs with sand still stuck to your toes.

    It’s a wonderful idea – and one that might catch on in time – but for now, the $3 million revamped restaurant facing Swanbourne Beach is a magnet for Perth’s beautiful people.

    Their leather sandals give way to razorback dresses, expensive jewellery and sleek bobs, or leather leggings and messy, Blake Lively-style plaits.

    It’s hard not to stare at all the privileged beauty – 90 per cent feminine with a dash of male-model lookalikes and a few silver foxes – in the white-on-grey room.

    Breezy, smart but not too showy

    The décor matches the clientele: breezy and smart, but not too showy. Weatherboard feature walls offset plush booths; a bar stool-height banquette grants ocean views; and bentwood chairs encircle tables leading to an expansive deck.

    The Shorehouse could’ve gone either way but fortunately, there’s very little snobbery and a fair lug of fun. It comes down, perhaps, to owner Scott Taylor, himself often spotted in bare feet, whether at the beach or not.

    The loveable lad with charisma to burn has proven himself repeatedly in Perth, with the just relaunched Beaufort Local (formerly Beaufort Street Merchant), Enrique’s School For To Bullfighting bar, and fancy Trustee restaurant in the CBD. The Shorehouse exudes a playful vibe that suggests it will be no less successful than its siblings.

    Bloody Marys for everyone

    For starters, it shares their love of polished booze, including five styles of Bloody Mary. I swoon over a smoky incarnation with a porcine twist, care of bacon-washed bourbon.

    My plus-one selects a lemongrass-licked gin and tonic from six options, so fresh he could down it all day. The wine list is impressive – and there are heaps of by-the-glass options.

    The kitchen is run by Oliver Gould, a chef who earned his stripes over nine years at Stokehouse in Melbourne, taking out the Good Food Guide’s Young Chef of the Year for 2014. The trademark of his coastal menu is clean food packed with flavour.

    More substance than style

    Each dish is presented prettily, but there’s more substance than style, which is refreshing. Take the charcoal oven-finished Exmouth tiger prawns, tails blackened, gently smoked and heaving with baby caper tang.

    At five juicy crustaceans for $35 (I count them twice, just to be sure) they’d want to be good – and they are. Each prawn head slides off like it’s greased with Vaseline: expertly cooked.

    The simple dressing on the heirloom tomato salad – 12-year-old, sticky balsamic imported from Italy and Aussie olive oil – is so good I could drink it.

    More generosity could’ve been shown with the torn mozzarella morsels, but the flavours exploding from the black, red and yellow orbs mask the scroogery. Pert broad beans and house-made croutons cement this as the dish of the day.

    We eye off the raw seafood menu but opt for the crab linguine, slurping up its steamy broth sweetened with sea urchin paste and garlic slivers, wishing we’d ordered the larger dish.

    We exit as the sun’s glare turns the Indian Ocean silver, sucking in our tummies as we pass the glamour girls and, at last, pulling off our shoes to reach the sand.

    The details: The Shorehouse

    Where: 78 Marine Parade, Swanbourne, Perth – TheShorehouse.com.au

    Verdict: People-watching and ocean views provide the eye candy, while the food is strong enough to demand a three-way attention split. With breakfast recently added to the mix, there might be more thonged feet coming directly from the beach.

    Score: 3.5/5

    We rated: The outlook is dreamy, particularly if you’re under the front deck’s stripy yellow umbrellas.

    We’d change: The service was distracted, forgetting the tables that weren’t raucous and boozy.

    Notes: It’s ferociously busy so be sure to book and plan for at least $60 per head, more if celebrating the view with a few glass clinks. Also, the beach to the far right is clothing-optional – expect to blush if you wander too far along the sand!

    All AT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.

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    — Perth —

    Review: Lucky Chan’s Laundry and Noodlebar

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • DECEMBER 16, 2015

    Touted as a ‘man of mystery’ who sports a polyester suit and moves and shakes between Northbridge’s laundries, Fleur Bainger heads out to discover: who exactly is Lucky Chan?

    There are few times Perth people will voluntarily queue.

    Big name rock stars, yes; Derby AFL games, sure, and when the latest, hotter than hot restaurant opens. Lucky Chan’s Laundry + Noodlebar obviously falls into the latter category.

    But rather than bursting onto the scene with a supernova explosion then fizzing out like sparklers, as new places often do, the buzz over the tri-level, pan-Asian eatery hasn’t waned since its April launch.

    So it should have come as no surprise that, on the Saturday night we visit, there’s quite a line outside. The fervour over Lucky Chan’s began well before its cleverly disguised doors were thrown open.

    Crowdfunding and the mysterious man

    Its owners launched a crowdfunding campaign in 2014 and raised $112,000 on Pozible. It turns out people liked the idea of a restaurant named after a mysterious man of questionable fashion sense who was plastered over the restaurant’s website.

    Lucky is, of course, fictional, but through him the venue pays homage to the Asian immigrants who have dotted Northbridge’s streets with oriental outlets.

    On entering, you get the sense this quirky guy might’ve had a hand in the décor, too. The frontage is mischievously deceiving: rows of washing machines face the window.

    Inside, the stairwell is decorated with ironing boards and holey light fittings suggest they’re made from washing machine tubs.

    Meanwhile, upstairs

    Upstairs, mini red Chinese lanterns hang from a ceiling with tea towels threaded between wooden rafters. Then there’s the bar made from mahjong tiles and the rooftop strung with party lights. It’s very well done.

    The food is inspired by David Chang’s mod-trad take on Asian.

    Danny Matthews is now at the helm, aided by a guy who pumps out fresh ramen noodles and gyoza skins on a custom machine in a glass cube upstairs, and two Asian ladies who put the from-scratch dumplings together. It’s fancy fare, made to feel casual.

    We kick off with a bowl of pigs’ ears that have been braised in master stock for eight hours, pressed then refrigerated, sliced and deep fried. Crisp, no; gelatinous, yes, and excellent with the on-tap craft beer.

    The cheeky ramen

    The Penang duck dumplings, served in a rose pink pool of curry sauce, are too mushy to win us over, but the house specialty, the ramen, does. It took the owners 36 attempts to perfect their noodle recipe, and they sell 1500 bowls a week.

    Our ‘cheeky ramen’ justifies the effort: we love the springy, chewy strings in a dark broth.

    Topped with fall-apart pork cheek and Asian mushrooms, I struggle with the roast tomato and broccolini additions, but it fits the kitchen’s penchant for modern twists.

    Fried, buttermilk chicken bao errs on the dull side – the pineapple sweetened beef shin version is better – but dessert brings us back. Coconut pannacotta is topped with crumbly honeycomb, pineapple ribbons and a sorbet poked with lime gel and chunks that taste like childhood lollies.

    Fine work, Lucky Chan. Maybe even worth queuing for.

    The Details: Lucky Chan’s Laundry + Noodlebar

    Verdict: A bubbly night out that’ll leave you full as a goog and feeling oh-so hip.

    Score: 3.5/5

    We rated: The fit-out is cleverly done, pushing a whimsical theme throughout without becoming kitsch or commercial. The place feels fun. And it’s open until 2am.

    We’d change: The food needs to be brought up a level to match the surrounds. It’s good but lacks the breathtaking flavour punch you expect from all the hype.

    Notes: You can’t book, so turn up and try your luck.

    Where: 311 William St, Northbridge, Perth, 08 922 7 8921; luckychans.com.au

     

    All AT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.

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    — Perth —

    Hotel Review: Alex Hotel, Perth

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • DECEMBER 7, 2015

    The team behind Little Creatures Brewery has opened its first hotel in Perth: the Alex. Fleur Bainger finds a similarly craft-driven, independent haven.

    When Fremantle’s Little Creatures Brewery sold to Lion for a cool $382 million in 2012, many made the assumption the original owners would ride quietly into the sunset, perhaps aboard a luxury yacht? It was not to be.

    Instead, the four founders of Australia’s most successful microbrewery got stuck into new projects: opening hip restaurants, creating a biodynamic bakery, launching a locally roasted coffee brand, resurrecting a heritage area, and building an inner-city distillery.

    No one expected them to open a boutique hotel as well, yet, in May, they did, and it’s called Alex.

    Little Creatures get creative

    Miles Hull is at the helm. He spent nine years with the Creatures team, first as its general manager of hospitality, and later as the head of creative development and marketing.

    But hotels were what he trained in (in Switzerland, if you don’t mind), and it seems his colleagues have backed his dream of opening one.

    The result has their trademark craft style stamped all over it, right down to the glass-bottled water filtered on site, and the ceramic tissue boxes handmade by a local artisan.

    There’s plenty that’s unconventional, too: the name, for example, which is meant to evoke a friendly personality. They do, however, have an eye for opportunity.

    On Perth’s cultural doorstep

    Alex is, I’d venture, the best located hotel in the western capital. Perched on the doorstep of the Perth Cultural Centre (home to the Art Gallery of WA, WA Museum, the Urban Orchard, and more), mere steps from cool William Street and a stone’s throw from the State Theatre Centre and Perth’s central train station, it’s at the heart of Perth’s re-enlivened core.

    We arrive on a Friday afternoon, passing a row of free-to-use, retro bikes before being greeted by two bubbly women who check us in informally; there’s no front desk dividing us. No iPads, either, just a warm, one-on-one welcome.

    We’re handed faux-pine swipe cards that unlock the elevator’s security system and whisk us to the sixth floor. I wasn’t expecting top-level views for the price of a mid-tier room. It’s the first of many surprises.

    Our room is compact, sure, but floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony overlooking the busy urban strip below gives it life. More light floods in via the glass-encased shower that cheekily faces the outside world.

    One for the exhibitionists

    Exhibitionists will love it, but the shy will appreciate the electric modesty blinds encased in the double-glazing. Our custom-made bed is dressed in silky, Italian-made Beltrami sheets and extra-long, squishy pillows.

    The Bemboka Turkish cotton towels and throw add another layer of luxe comfort, as do the locally made Sodashi bathroom products. There’s a quaint pencil and steel sharpener by the bed and a do-not-disturb sign declaring ‘dreams in progress’. I love it all.

    But the six-storey, 74-room haven isn’t about the rooms, as a little black book on the bedside table reminds us – communal areas are the focus. There’s deliberately no mini bar, nor any room service. Alex wants to draw you out to play.

    We descend to the mezzanine, lured by the delightfully unconventional honour-system bar and pantry. It’s hard not to feel like kids raiding the liquor cabinet, as we select Margaret River craft beers.

    Hipster meets Vogue

    We waft over to the record player (with headphones attached) and slouch on cushion-topped, velvet love seats, leafing through edgy magazines. I’m seduced by the hipster-meets-Vogue interior styling. It’s the sort of home I’d love to live in, with the sort of décor I’d love to own.

    We’ve brought our one-year-old, and once he’s asleep we tiptoe to the rooftop. While eyeballing the baby monitor we lounge in white scoop chairs and listen to live covers being played on a pub balcony opposite.

    Northbridge is the Kings Cross or Fitzroy of Perth; we’re at the heart of it without being in the thick of it. The staff suggest we order dinner from the attached restaurant, Shadow Wine Bar, and deliver it to us on the mezzanine.

    Thrilled, we pour another wine from the honour-system fridge and enjoy a romantic dinner as we watch the bar hoppers. We don’t (really) mind that we’re separated from the nightlife.

    And that’s Alex’s charm: its communal spaces are so inviting, you can happily opt for a night in. Crafty indeed.

    The verdict: Alex Hotel, Perth

    Why be a follower? This is a cleverly put-together, chic but casual hotel that has plenty of elements we often wish hotels had. Original thinking, an obvious love of sharing and handcrafted touches tick all the boxes.

    Score: 4/5

    We rated: The 12 noon check out. How civilised! And that weekend breakfast runs 6.30am–11am. Sleep in but don’t starve.

    We’d change: There’s a reason complimentary ear plugs are in the bathroom: noise from the party street below, while muffled, permeates the double-glazing. I thought it was atmospheric – the husband did not.

    Notes: We paid $255 for a ‘medium’ room, which comes with a balcony and includes an excellent breakfast. Large rooms are only $10 more but don’t come with a balcony; extra-large rooms do have balconies, however.

    Where: 50 James St, Perth; 08 6430 4000; alexhotel.com.au

     

    All AT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.

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    — Perth —

    Ultimate Family Breaks: Rendezvous Hotel Perth Scarborough

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • OCTOBER 6, 2015

    ***Created in partnership with our sponsor Rendezvous Hotel Perth Scarborough***

    Scarborough is the perfect place for a family holiday. With the beach at your doorstep, vibrant dining options and a buzzing Esplanade, it’s the ideal location to experience Western Australian living.

    The hotel boasts 336 stylish rooms and suites including family rooms with ocean views.

    With a full collection of leisure facilities including a lagoon-style pool, fully equipped gym, tranquil Vanilla Face and Body Spa, tennis courts and a games room, there’s something for everyone.

    After a hearty meal at signature restaurant Straits Cafe, treat the kids to a creative dessert from Cold Rock Ice Creamery on the Esplanade.

    If looking for some family fun, Event Cinemas and Karrinyup Shopping Centre are only 10 minutes away. For the more adventurous, hire a bike and discover Scarborough’s coastal bike trails or catch a ferry to Rottnest Island.

    Details

    Phone: 08 9245 1000
    Web: TFEhotels.com/rendezvous
    Email: res.rscb@rendezvoushotels.com

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    — Perth —

    Iconic Perth: Crawley Edge Boatshed, Matilda Bay

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • AUGUST 12, 2015

    Crawley Edge Boatshed, Swan River, is a Perth icon. This beautiful boatshed sits at the end of a timber boardwalk on the banks of Matilda Bay on the Swan River.

    Built some time in the 1930s, perhaps to house the pleasure boat of some affluent local, it’s changed hands numerous times, as well as undergoing various repairs and renovations over the decades after storms and floods.

    Following major works to restore it to its former glory in 2004, the historic structure was re-launched by triple solo-circumnavigator of the world Jon Sanders and single solo-circumnavigator David Dicks.

    A stunning piece of nautical architecture, we think it would make the perfect boutique weekender (if only we had the money).

    Alas, it’s just sitting pretty for the time being, causing people to stop on Mounts Bay Road, take out their cameras and capture its beauty.

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    — Perth —

    10 Perth bars to warm up your winter

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JULY 12, 2015

    With more sunshine hours and milder weather than any other Australian capital, winter in Perth is no time to hide away. From dimly-lit, quirky basement bars to cosy, couch-filled spaces, brace yourselves – the cocktails are coming.

    1. The Laneway Lounge

    Just down a (you guessed it) lane off Murray Street, The Laneway Lounge boasts a killer live jazz scene, alongside top-notch eats and a 17-page beverage list brimming with choices. Dine while watching local and international performances or hire a private booth for an intimate gathering. With exposed bulbs hanging from the ceiling, Laneway knows how to give good light. 414A Murray Street, Perth
    Reason to go: The stellar cocktail list. Pick the Nitro Punch for wow factor – it comes served in an antique punchbowl overflowing with mystical liquid nitrogen.

    2. Andaluz

    Antique mahogany lounges and leather-bound books (are we in Ron Burgundy’s den?) create a chilled out vibe at the bar, housed below the historic Parker & Parker Building. Coming in on Perth’s initial wave of small bars, Andaluz was one of the first to bring excellent tapas to hungry Perthites. European flavours, with a strong flavour of Spain, meet an impressive drinks list at what is a firm favourite amongst Perth suits. 21 Howard Street, Perth
    Reason to go: Its prime location in the heart of Perth’s CBD. Grab a spot straight from the office.

    3. The Odd Fellow

    If you’re venturing south of the city, put this eccentric bar on your hit list. The cool live and original music venue lies down a set of stairs, underneath the popular Norfolk Hotel. The Odd Fellow’s Super-friendly staff, an exposed brick interior and a bright feature wall of spirits make for a cosy venue. Musos rock the house Tuesday to Saturday with band and DJ sets. There’s also spirit tastings and samplings of smallgoods. Delish. Basement, 9 Norfolk Street, Fremantle
    Reason to go: A Fremantle crowd is one of the best you’ll get for people watching. Sit back, relax and enjoy the cruisy atmosphere.

    4. 1907

    Inside the basement of a 100-year-old building, whose former life was a rag trade factory, 1907 is where Old World meets New World – classic and contemporary with a bit of a twist. Relax in the elegant downstairs bar or enjoy the sumptuous seven or 10-course degustation in the restaurant above with help from staff who know their stuff. 26 Queen Street, Perth
    Reason to go: This winter the menu features dishes infused with famous Manjimup black truffles.

    5. The Jazz Cellar

    Head north to Mt Hawthorn because The Jazz Cellar may just be one of the coolest venues in Perth right now. It’s not at all new, in fact, crowds originally queued from mid-afternoon on a Friday (the only night of the week it’s open). Lucky for us, there’s now an online booking system in place, which still sees owner Roy turning away almost 100 traditional jazz music fiends each week. Its BYO drinks and food philosophy matched with all-you-can-listen jazz means it’s a real winner amongst young and old. The décor, too, harks back to yesteryear, with enamel advertising signs and tables made from cast iron sewing machine bases. 139 Buxton Street, Mt Hawthorn
    Reason to go: In case you weren’t already sold, check out the Harry Potter-esque entrance. Find the red phonebooth and go down the stairway to enter. Tres cool.

    6. Bobeche

    Set amongst Perth’s ever-popular Brookfield Place area, Bobeche evokes a clandestine feel. Its dark and velvet interior with luxurious chesterfields welcomes you in from the cold. Grab one of the signature teapot cocktails which change regularly. The pick for winter is the Hot Coconut Buttered Rum, a delectable mix of Bobeche’s secret spiced coconut butter batter, Pampero Anejo Rum and a little hot water. It’s served warm and only available in the cooler months, so get in quick. 131 St George’s Terrace, Perth
    Reason to go: We’re (only slightly) ashamed to admit it, but the free bowls of popcorn are another drawcard. You can smell the warm buttery scent from outside.

    7. Sneaky Tony’s

    The latest from hospitality trailblazer Clint Nolan slipped into the Northbridge bar scene shrouded in mystery – where is Sneaky Tony’s? How does one get in? Thankfully, things are now a little clearer due to word of mouth. The moody American saloon/speakeasy-style bar is filled with rum, rum and you guessed it, more rum. Don’t even try asking for a vodka soda. To get through, find the unmarked door around Chinatown and look for a pair of eyes hiding behind a peephole. Get the daily password off their Instagram account or Facebook page and announce it to enter. Need a hint? The dimly-lit downstairs haunt shares a kitchen with Nolan’s other venture Pleased to Meet You. Ssshh, it’s a secret, Northbridge
    Reason to go: The accomplishment! You found it, you experienced Tony’s. It’s just so cool, Melbourne might need to watch its back. Final hint: the location rhymes with Mick’s Mane.

    8. Wolf Lane

    Situated in a cluster of small bars, the quirky Wolf Lane is where Red Riding Hood got lost and decided to take a seat at her closest watering hole. Enchanting fairytale-inspired wall art, chatty barfolk, vintage furniture, bare brickwork and plush red curtains all evoke a warm and inviting atmosphere. Sink into one of the ridiculously comfy couches and you may just stay all night. Rear 321 Murray Street, Perth
    Reason to go: Drop the special password of ‘moon’ for a selected $5 beer, cider or spirit of the week.

    9. Varnish on King

    When underground specialist whiskey bar Varnish hit the CBD, it was clear – Perth was growing up. Below the heritage Smithmore House with an easy-to-miss entrance, Varnish offers punters a range of more than 200 whiskeys from the US and plates up excellent food. Aim well enough and by sinking a gold coin into the tin can tip jar hanging behind the bar, you’ll get a prize – as for what that is you’ll have to ask the bartender. Don’t forget to say hey to Justin Beaver, the bar’s taxidermy mascot.
    75 King Street, Perth
    Reason to go: You can’t go past Varnish’s bacon flight. Four types of the good stuff with four whiskey selections. An unusual but delectable match made in gourmand heaven.

    10. Lalla Rookh

    Follow the spiral staircase down to an airy casual space for Lalla Rookh, which dishes up contemporary food and wine in an easy-going setting. There’s a great selection of vino too and five relaxed spaces in which to unwind. The Italian eating house’s arguably short menu, which changes seasonally, includes tantalising traditional fare and a selection of cheeses and cured meats. 77 St George’s Terrace, Perth
    Reason to go: The Wine Store, where you can purchase bottles to take home or enjoy at the venue. There’s more than 300 labels housed inside and sommelier Jeremy can source specifics for the collectors.

     

    Kirsten Hyam is a subeditor and freelance writer who by day looks out for typos, double spaces and errant commas and by night watches Friends reruns and enjoys the occasional glass of sauvignon blanc.

    — Perth —

    Bar-boom! Perth’s top 5 niche bars

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JANUARY 21, 2015

    What do you get when you drop a small bar licence on a mining boom? Perth’s small bar scene is shaping up to be a match made in small-bar heaven. After marvelling at the free bus service that runs through the heart of Perth, Greta Stonehouse set about finding the best niche bars Perth has to offer.

    Angel’s Cut

    While this bar specialises in over 125 types of rum, the name Angel’s Cut is inspired by the process of whiskey making – the small amount of alcohol that evaporates during distilling is said to be the ‘angel’s share’. At Angel’s Cut the holiness stops with the large pair of angel wings presiding over the bar, underneath is everything rum related, from the classic Dark and Stormy, to the twisted Tiki inspired Dr Funk.

    Try: Dr Funk
    Where: 133 St Georges Terrace, Perth
    When: Open Monday to Friday, noon until midnight. Saturday, 5pm until midnight. Closed Sunday

    Dominion League

    Geographically speaking, “Perth is as far from Canberra as London is from Moscow,” said Sir Hal Colebatch in support of the Dominion League’s movement to separate Western Australia from the rest of Australia back in 1933 (the referendum had the support of the people, but for economic reasons the Commonwealth refused). Now, flying the Western Australian flag in all its historical glory, the Dominion League offers a street level bar brimming with Western Australian wines and beers. Downstairs is a saloon-style bar mixing fun cocktails and intimate ambience.

    Try: Honeycomb Old Fashioned
    Where: 84 Beaufort Street, Perth
    When: Open Tuesday to Thursday, 4pm until midnight. Friday, midday until midnight. Saturday, 5pm until midnight. Closed Sunday and Monday

    Helvetica

    Snaking behind Perth’s office towers Helvetica, a bar that will have you sipping whisky neat and feeling like a modern Don Draper. Its whiskey + whisky menu is like a peace offering to all international whiskey lovers no matter what region or flavour you prefer, categorising each drop by country of origin. Helvetica offers a bottle-keep service whereby you can purchase a bottle from its selection and have it stored for your next visit, a good excuse to fashion your own armchair groove. An extensive list of boutique beers and wines is also available.

    Try: Long Way Home
    Where: Rear 101 St Georges Terrace, Perth
    When: Open Tuesday to Thursday, 3pm until midnight. Friday, midday until 1pm. Saturday, 6pm until 1am. Sunday and Monday by reservation only

    Frisk

    Past the busy thoroughfare of Perth is a bar that makes personalising your coffee order look passe. Frisk bar features over 200 gin varieties and five different brands of tonic water, so you can match your G with your T in style.

    Try: On Stranger Tides
    Where: 103 Francis Street, Northbridge, Perth
    When: Open Tuesday – Saturday, 3pm until midnight. Sunday, 2pm until 10pm. Closed Monday

    Ezra Pound

    Ezra Pound was one of the first small bars to open in Perth and feels as if it is straight out of the American prohibition era. Keeping in line with this theme and daringly hidden from the main street, Ezra Pound can be found through entering the car park off James Street. From old classic cocktails made with finesse, to Coopers long necks served in paper bags, Ezra Pound has you covered.

    Try: Any of the classics like a Tom Collins
    Where: 189 William Street, Northbridge, Perth
    When: Tuesday to Saturday, 1pm to midnight. Sunday 1pm to 10pm. Closed Monday

    — Perth —

    Your Shot Winner: Memories of Perth

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • MAY 11, 2014

    “I took this photo during my second visit to Kings Park in Perth. It is one of my favourite places in Perth as you can spend countless hours walking through the park and taking in the magnificent vista of Perth, the Swan River and the Darling Range. I took several test shots and then waited for the ‘blue hour’ after sunset to create this stunning blue backdrop. I would recommend anyone visiting Perth to head up to Kings Park for sunset and then walk down into the city. The nightscapes of Perth are superb and along the way you will find lots of hidden treasures that become illuminated at night.”
    Hannes Nitzsche, via email

    Calling all Australian Travellers!

    Think you’ve got a winning photo? Send your best Australian travel image to photo@australiantraveller.com For your image to be considered, it must be sent in high-res (300dpi at a minimum of 10cm wide), with your contact details and a short description of the photo. For this photo, AT reader Hannes Nitzsche has won a Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 lens (model number A009), valued at $1699. This lens is the apex of Tamron telephoto zooms in a compact package that is the smallest in its class. Vibration Compensation image stabilisation boosts the low-light shooting capacity of this fast-aperture lens, while Tamron’s proprietary Ultrasonic Silent Drive motor delivers speedy, quiet, accurate autofocus that captures those decisive moments.

    MORE: 

    The pick of our readers’ pictures: the best of Your Shot

    AT issue 56

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    — Perth —

    Boutique bush stays on Perth’s doorstep

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • MARCH 20, 2014

    No time to get out of Perth and head out bush? Yes, you do. Here are some accessible rural weekend experiences just for you (Megan Arkinstall). 

    Have an easy bush getaway: Jarrahdale, Serpentine Valley

    Only a hop, skip and jump from Perth, a 30-minute drive in fact, is Yarrabah in the small historic town of Jarrahdale. The rural homestead and retreat are ideal for a quick family escape from the city – and a lovely one at that. Set on a huge 350 acres of bushland and pastures, with running creeks, dams, and an array of wildlife, there are ample opportunities for walks and picnic spots. Have fun with the tennis court, darts, table tennis and play croquet, totem tennis and cricket on the lawns. Marron is farmed on-site and available fresh to purchase – so light up the barbie and enjoy an alfresco dinner. $250 per night in the Retreat; $350 per night in the Homestead, minimum two-night stay; kids welcome.

    Hide out in a rural manor: York, Avon Valley

    Nestled on the banks of the Avon River, 97 kilometres east of Perth, is Laurelville, an Edwardian country house impeccably styled in shabby-chic white. With wide verandahs, distinctive gables, high ornate ceilings, polished original floorboards and open fireplaces, Laurelville is enough reason to visit WA’s oldest inland settlement, York – but we suggest checking out the refurbed old flour mill, now an Australian art gallery with a lovely little café (try their high tea… real scones!). From $200 per night including breakfast; kids welcome.

    Get away for peace and quiet: Yallingup, Margaret River region

    The Margaret River wine region is filled to its bushy brim with beautiful places to stay. But the adults-only EMPIRE Retreat, a charming 35-year-old farmhouse, is one of the top contenders. The suites are either located in the farmhouse or connected via a boardwalk and are beautifully designed with subdued lighting, natural stone and timber. Book the EMPIRE Experience two-night package to really make the most of the retreat – it includes fully-cooked breakfast, $450 to spend at the tranquil day spa, and a gourmet hamper with a bottle of both EMPIRE Estate’s red and white, ideal for a romantic picnic for two at a peaceful spot on the property – it won’t be hard to find one. From $1090 for the EMPIRE Experience; or from $295 per night, suite only.

    And… somewhat further afield… Soak up the country and the sea: Denmark, WA

    These delightful little stone cottages, just a stone’s throw from the stunning seaside town of Denmark, make for an idyllic weekend escape. Each of the seven unique cottages (most suitable for a family) are charmingly rustic, built from locally sourced timber and stone, complete with exposed bricks and beams, polished floorboards and cosy wood log fires. The huge 330-acre property adjoins William Bay National Park, known for its granite boulders, the turquoise Green Pool, and Mazzoletti Beach, just 25 minutes down a private walking track. Or stay country-side and revel in the beauty of the property, where horses, cattle and goats graze peacefully and the birdlife is prolific. From $170 per night in the Robin’s Nest to $230 per night in the Endeavour Cottage (based on two adults), minimum two-night stay.

     

    MORE: 

    Sydney bush breaks

    Going bush in style on the Apple Isle

    Lush boutique bush breaks in Melbourne

    Australian Traveller Feb/Mar Issue

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    — Perth —

    Perth’s silky Szechuan Jewel

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • OCTOBER 21, 2013

    The leading lady in Crown Perth’s culinary carriage has arrived. Silks is dubbed the flagship of the hotel’s 15-strong restaurants.

    Its menu draws on authentic Chinese cooking with dishes like wok baked lobster and over 20 dim sums. There’s also a lengthy drinks list and a traditional tea menu.

    But the real gem is the ‘sky dining room’, taking in sparkling views across the city.

    Crown Casino, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood, WA; 08 9362 7551

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    — Perth —

    Review: Chefz Table, Perth – Let the chef decide…

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • OCTOBER 17, 2013

    Can’t make your mind up when choosing from the menu?  As Fleur Bainger discovers, at Perth’s Chefz Table, the chef will do it for you. 

    You know those diners who always ask for annoying alterations to the menu? I’ll admit, sometimes I’m one of them.

    I’m sick of basil pesto (“can I have it on the side, please?”); I only like mushroom sauce if it’s creamy; and I have a weird phobia of baby corn. So the concept of being able to tell a chef what ingredients I do and don’t like, and have him magic up a degustation tailored just to me, sounded brilliant. Even more enticing was that a new restaurant was offering just that in my hometown – a restaurant by the name of Chefz Table in Perth’s CBD.

    “My husband hates cauliflower and eggplant,” I say when the receptionist asks for our food preferences.

    “I’m not a fan of veal, but we like all other meats and we’re fine with raw things. We love tuna and salmon. Oh! And scallops, we loooove scallops!” The receptionist’s mention of offal, sweetbreads and black pudding gets an unequivocal “no”. I say I’m a savoury person, so he suggests cheeses but I want to see the chef perform, and push for a dessert – so long as it’s not trifle. I hang up worrying I’ve been too vague. I call back and profess my love for duck. There, that should do it.

    Saturday night comes and I can’t wait to see how chef Shaun Hack interprets my requests. He opened the restaurant in January after a long stint cooking in Europe – including at a one-Michelin-star restaurant in France where the ‘chef’s table’ concept is already taking off.

    Traditionally, chefs treat select diners to a special, off-menu degustation that pushes the culinary envelope and occurs either in the kitchen itself or within good view of it. Hack’s version keeps his patrons on the restaurant floor (I’m slightly disappointed), allowing anyone to take part and see him create complex dishes to their tastes.

    “When you go for a [regular] degustation, there might be some things you don’t like and I just thought why pay all that money for that?” Hack reasons. Besides, he likes the diversity – he’s catalogued 600 different dishes already. There’s nothing else like it in Perth and few restaurants offer it in Australia.

    The comparative view from my table is dull. Having read on a blog that the restaurant is housed in the old Fairlanes bowling alley, I expect to see bowling pins, neon signs and kitsch paraphernalia. But Fairlanes has been bowled flat, with a nondescript establishment rising from its ashes. The chef says he’s aiming to create a non-pretentious space, but I find the grey and red colour scheme devoid of character.

    Luckily, the food distracts me. An amuse-bouche of smoky trout parfait with coconut tapioca pearls sets the tone, followed by more smoking – this time it’s duck ham, dressed with pickled leek straws, subtle fennel emulsion, pistachio purée and a segment of mandarin.

    Margaret River chardonnay is poured into the cleanest glassware I’ve ever seen as a mound of tender, shredded pork cheek arrives with knobs of pickled cauliflower… Uh oh, this was on our banned substances list. The waiter hurriedly apologises and offers to switch it, but a taste-test redeems the chef: it enhances the rich, juicy porkiness.

    Post palate cleanser, our main arrives. Warm, scallop carpaccio fans around roughly minced, herb-tossed raw tuna, doused in a vinaigrette that cooks it. It’s smashing, but oddly, it’s placed on a capsicum smear, which risks dominating the gentle seafood flavours.

    I fill any remaining room with a pert lemongrass panna cotta, grazing my spoon in soft chocolate ganache then dipping it in a wild rice granola that tastes like popcorn. It’s a busy dessert, what with plum sorbet and chocolate ‘air’ (much like the ‘soil’ trend that’s going around), but it’s decadent and the perfect way to wind up a night of culinary pampering.

    The numero uno experience has a bespoke price tag – perhaps a tad too high – but it’s unique, fun and a hit in moneyed Perth.

    The details

    The verdict The element of surprise is definitely a winner, but the price means it’s the sort of ‘special night out’ you might only do once.

    The score 14/20; good

    We rated Finding out how the chef interpreted our ingredient choices and the warm, nothing’s-too-much-trouble service.

    We hated The lack of atmosphere; the forgettable room didn’t match the adventurousness of the chef’s table concept, nor the sophistication of the food.

    Where Unit 1B, 181 Adelaide Terrace, East Perth

    Notes $125 for four courses; add $40 for matched wines. The price rises per number of courses and gourmet rating of the fare. Kiddies will not appreciate it but fuss-pots will: the chef will cater to whatever foodie whim, intolerance or preference.
    Contact 08 9221 7417; chefztable.com.au

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    — Perth —

    New luxe option Fraser Suites taking the strain off Perth’s hotel-bed shortage

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JULY 3, 2013

    Fraser Suites Perth is the latest stay to open in the city’s CBD, easing the city’s ongoing accommodation shortage.

    Claimed as the first five-star all-suite apartment hotel to be built in the city in more than a decade, the hotel has been regularly reaching over 90 percent occupancy since opening in October last year.

    The new luxury digs are located on the eastern edges of the CBD in Adelaide Terrace, overlooking the Swan River on one side and the WACA on the other.

    Among the 236 suites (studio, one- and two-bedroom) there are full kitchen facilities, home entertainment systems and king-sized beds to sink in to.

    Thoughtful extra touches include handcrafted teas from France, complimentary wi-fi and a 24-hour concierge.

    The hotel also has a lap pool, sauna, 24-hour gym, restaurant and lobby bar.

    Rooms from $280 per night, perth.frasershospitality.com

    Tawnee Rothe

    — Perth —

    Naked Chef Review: Is the Oliver name enough to make Jamie’s Italian tasty in Perth?

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JUNE 19, 2013

    The celebrity name that comes with this restaurant has caused more than a murmur on the streets. A hungry (but patient) Rachel Hanson tries out the new Jamie’s Italian in Perth.

    Celebrity chef – is it a modern-day ‘chicken or the egg’? Once the elusive celebrity factor kicks in, what keeps the juggernaut going – the quality of the food or the celebrity status?

    For some, it’s certainly the latter. But here, thankfully, it’s not all catchy jingles or verbal abuse. Although his boundless energy and sweet lisp are a part of his trademark, Jamie Oliver’s reputation rests squarely on the plate.

    But to get to the plate, first you have to get through the door.

    Whether it’s the personality or the produce, the months of talk swirling around the new Jamie’s Italian in Perth’s CBD have generated an honest-to-goodness foodie frenzy. After finally opening its doors in late March, tables are now booked up months in advance and walk-in wait times are upwards of two hours. So armed with comfy shoes and emergency snacks, my partner and I dutifully take our place in line.

    As it turns out, the wait out front isn’t for a table… it is to put our name on the list to get a table. The infinitely patient and impossibly cheerful staff member, assigned to assuage the hungry public, informs us that it will take 30 minutes to get our names on the list, and another 90 minutes for a table (as it turns out, the reservation system can only hold 200 names – hence the lineup – but a system upgrade is underway).

    A quick peek into the bar area – a stylish space with dark wood and polished concrete setting off the cool, sea green-tiled splashback behind the bar – and we decide to wait elsewhere. It wasn’t the crowds that made us retreat, it was the moreish-sounding bar snacks.

    When you offer up ‘famous’ polenta chips ($8.50), pumpkin and smoked mozzarella nachos ($7) and crispy stuffed risotto balls ($9.50) before dinner, dinner will never happen. But ninety minutes later, our table is ready. A genius design means that though the room is very full, you don’t rub elbows with your neighbours. A large chandelier dominates the centre of the room, but it’s hardly the focal point. In fact it’s hard to find one since there’s so much to look at.

    Fresh, golden brown loaves of bread (supplied by a local artisanal baker) are on display in baskets bolted to walls and pillars, while fresh produce, cured meats and lengths of garlic and chilli hang over the antipasto counter at the far end of the room. And though it’s expected, the product placement is surprisingly unobtrusive. But the most eye-catching of all is the army of staff (we lost count at 29) zipping around the floor like cheerful, over-caffeinated bees, adding to the joyous, exuberant vibe in the room.

    Generous portions are the norm here and every dish is truly reasonably priced. It’s all a part of Jamie’s cult-like ethos of fresh, inexpensive, good-for-you food. But it makes decision-making difficult, so we lean towards a more-is-more ordering scheme. A complimentary basket of bread (yes, really!) appears as we order and the simple gesture is a clever one. Why did these go out of fashion, again?

    There are three ‘planks’ on the antipasto menu – meat, fish and vegetables – that are priced per head. Set atop a couple of tins of diced tomatoes, our vegetable plank ($10 per person) is laden with goodies and stretches the complete length of the table. Tender balls of buffalo mozzarella; olives, caper berries and green chillies; aged pecorino with a smear of just-spicy-enough chilli jam on flat ‘music bread’; a salad of julienned root vegetables with mint and lemon; mini bruschetta; and a dish of marinated and chargrilled seasonal vegetables make for one serious starter.

    Aside from the crunchy salad, which is a little on the wet side, each component is bright and punchy with the total effect of a scrummy mix of textures and flavours. To round out the first course, an order of crispy squid with garlicky mayo ($12) has a lovely crisp coating, but that doesn’t disguise its slightly rubbery texture.

    Filled with slippery mushrooms and luscious ricotta, the wild mushroom ravioli ($19) is addictive. With all pastas made in-house, the hearty serve of perfectly al dente pasta swims in a meaty mushroom and tomato sauce with just the slightest kick of chilli. A little on the salty side perhaps, but as close to divine as pasta gets.

    The creamy blue swimmer crab risotto ($26.50) is equally good. Instead of delicate slivers of crab flaked over the top, big hunks of rich meat are swirled throughout. Hits of lemon, chilli and salty, crispy samphire accompany every bite.

    While the famous part might be overstating it, the crispy polenta chips are worth the wait. Woody rosemary and salty half-melted parmesan add superb flavour and unami to every bite – although a touch more rosemary would have made them perfect.

    Despite our full bellies, it doesn’t seem right to order only one dessert each. As it turns out, too much of a good thing is just the right amount. The tiramisu ($9.50) comes with a twist of coffee-flavoured trifle and orange mascarpone, but works better on paper than on tastebuds. The lemon meringue pie ($8.50) – laced with limoncello, scattered with mint and candied lemon peel, and topped with a crispy pistachio brittle – is just the right balance of crunchy, soft, sweet and slightly acidic.

    But the hero of dessert is the warm, gooey chocolate brownie ($9). A burst of amaretto contrasts nicely with tart raspberries and smooth vanilla ice-cream. Suffice to say, next time there will be only one dessert on the table.

    And there will be a next time. Although the famous name might bring the hordes in initially, it’s the food that will keep them coming back.

    The details

    The verdict: It’s exactly what you would expect from Jamie Oliver – fresh, enthusiastic, youthful and seriously delicious. It doesn’t have a restaurant chain feel, which is impressive.

    The score: 16/20; great

    We rated: The value-for-money portions and quality, and the innovative kids’ menu (the menu is cleverly displayed on a low-tech, immensely fun viewfinder).

    We hated: The wait for a table – but this will only be a problem until Perthonians latch onto the Next Big Thing. In the interim, there are plenty of shops and bars nearby to make the wait for a table pass quickly.

    Where:140 William Street,Perth,WA (in the CBD, next to the Perth underground train station).

    Contact: (08) 9363 8600; jamieoliver.com/Italian/Australia/perth

    The AT scoring system: Our review scores are based on a series of points, awarded across a number of categories including service, amenities, design, location, value, food and beverage offerings, and that elusive wow factor. 19-20 exceptional; 17-18 excellent; 15-16 great; 13-14 good; 11-12 satisfactory. Bias free: All AT reviews are conducted anonymously, and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.

     

    Issue 51

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    — Perth —

    Three chic central Perth hotels without the sting

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • MAY 14, 2013

    Save your Perth dollars for getting out and about. These heart-of-the-city hotels have everything you need for a bargain price.

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    Australian Traveller April/May Issue

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    — Perth —

    Restaurant review: Print Hall, Perth

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • MAY 11, 2013

    In a former newspaper house lies Perth’s newest fine dining restaurant. So, are headlines still produced within these walls? asks Rachel Hanson.

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    — Perth —

    The Terrace Hotel – Review

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • FEBRUARY 7, 2013

    A private entrance, high security and a secret exit… but is it enough to attract the clientele The Terrace is after?, asks Fleur Bainger.

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    — Perth —

    Perth’s Rooftop Bar Boom

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JANUARY 14, 2013

    Some of the best Perth bars are in fact much higher than you think… Fleur Bainger takes the elevator up.

    There are few Australians who don’t admire Bob Hawke’s larrikin line, “Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up to work today is a bum!” Delivered by the wavy-haired Prime Minister after we whipped the America’s Cup from the Yanks in 1983, he celebrated at the Royal Perth Yacht Club until the early hours and cancelled his cabinet meeting the next day.

    Nearly 30 years later, his words have been suspended in neon at a new rooftop bar in the western capital – not all that far from where the silver bodgie was partying in his patriotic jacket.

    The al fresco venue, fittingly, is called Bob’s Bar and pays humourous homage both to the former ‘everyman’ leader who grew up in Perth, and the triumphant win by the Australia II, which ended a 132-year dream run by US sailors. Perhaps inspired by Hawke’s naughty side, the owners have named the menu’s hot dog choices after Blanche and Hazel.

    Bob’s is the latest in a string of rooftop bars to open in Perth, as the city shifts to embrace more than just the dust and dollars billowing from the state’s mines.

    As the capital’s population grows – currently about 1000 people move there each week – so too does the thirst for new, edgy venues that offer much more than Swan Draught.

    Dozens of small bars have popped up in recent years, and with their success, Western Australia’s tight liquor licencing regulations have loosened, paving the way for sky-high fun. When you consider Perth’s stellar climate, it’s nigh-on criminal such venues haven’t really existed before.

    “With Perth’s weather, which is good for nine months a year, it should go really well,” enthuses Lyndon Waples, chief executive of Colonial Leisure Group, the company behind Bob’s and the $10 million, four-level development it sits on, Print Hall. “It’s been an ambition of mine for years to have a rooftop bar in Perth,” he says.

    Open for business since September 25, Print Hall fills the heritage-listed building Newspaper House, where local daily, The West Australian, was printed for 61 years. Knitting the two themes together, the stairway up to Bob’s Bar is wrapped in newsprint. And not just any newsprint; every page of the 1983 edition that splashed the America’s Cup victory across the front banner covers the walls.

    There’s also more neon. Along with Hawke’s colourful quote, the now-restored original West Australian sign illuminates the rooftop with its incandescent glaze. Rising up beside it, the massive new BHP Billiton building looms over the airy terrace; positioned in the heart of the CBD, punters are hemmed in by a mix of glitzy skyscrapers and other revamped heritage buildings holding yet more new bars and restaurants.

    While the bench seats and communal tables at Bob’s set a sociable vibe, Hawke’s working man ethos doesn’t extend – perhaps fortunately – to the drinks and eats menu. Grilled Spanish-style meats and seafood share plates join the house-made mini hotdogs, while premium beers and an upmarket wine list compete with custom-brewed ginger beer and Prohibition era cocktails.

    Waples argues that Bob’s is classier than its contemporaries, its wooden furnishings and brass fittings contrasting with their kitsch astro turf and palm trees waving in the breeze.

    “It’s Perth’s poshest rooftop watering hole, there’s no doubt about that,” he says.

    Classy perhaps – we’ll get to the kitsch later – but when it comes to the cool stakes, another new bar, Mechanics Institute wins hands down. Perched above a gourmet burger bistro – yes, they deliver upstairs – the haunt is furnished with rusty typewriters and upcycled tables, all blanketed by the Milky Way.

    Unusually for Perth, access to the bar is via a rear lane, adding to the intrigue. Owners of both top and bottom businesses, husband and wife team Hamish Fleming and Siobhan Blumann say they wanted to create a neighbourhood feel when they moved in to the gritty urban suburb of Northbridge and opened earlier this year.

    “We thought we needed to rise above the street level and create a little escape from the hullabaloo below,” Siobhan says. “Rooftops allow you to be in the centre of the action, but also removed from it at the same time.”

    Their view of the city is another plus, but perhaps not as big a drawcard as the $14 cocktails. And the moniker?

    “The name Mechanics Institute references the State Library next door,” says Siobhan. “Mechanics’ institutes were the forerunners to today’s public libraries, established by factory owners for the benefit of their workers, to improve their minds and keep them out of the pubs!” Apt and ironic in one.

    A few blocks away, a rooftop of a different kind is rolling out a carpet of faux grass, coating it with stripy deck chairs and edging it with palms and hundreds of plastic pink flamingos. This is Perth’s first – and only – rooftop cinema, opened for the first time this year after last summer’s trial run sold out night after night.

    Crowning a seven-storey car park, it shows cult films and cherished classics on a giant movie screen rigged up on sea containers. Colourful vintage caravans serve dude food, while booze and pizzas can be delivered, but self-packed picnic baskets are equally welcome.

    Marcus Canning, the man behind Rooftop Movies proudly describes the spectacle as “Miami kitsch with a dash of Hollywood glamour… We are the LA of Australia, after all.”

    He says it’s no surprise rooftops are all the rage in Perth. “We’ve always scratched our head a bit about why rooftops haven’t been made more of in Perth in the past. We have the best climate of any capital in Australia,” he says. “Rooftops in Melbourne are brilliant, except when it’s cold, wet, grey and miserable… Perth is all about the sunshine and the long balmy summer nights.”

    Across the train tracks that divide the city’s heart, punters flock to another lofty terrace. Aptly named The Nest, the 500-square-metre floor sits on the top level of popular bar The Aviary. It heaves with a dolled-up after-work crowd on Fridays and Saturdays, but on Mondays it hums at a more subdued pace.

    As the sinking western sun coats Perth’s core in a crimson glaze, games of lawn bowls are held on astro turf while bar flies look on.

    The Aviary’s Carly Odgers says a rooftop was always on the cards when the Melbourne-based owners were planning this venue.

    “In Melbourne there are plenty of rooftop bars around, so the owners couldn’t understand why we don’t have them in Perth. The weather is so great, we only get about two months of rain, and it’s just so nice up there,” she says.

    At the other end of the scale, VENN, an uber-hip concept store, harbours a tiny rooftop cube known as the Skydeck. The distressed brick alcove and its vertical garden sits a floor above the revamped, century-old heritage building’s bar and faces its comparatively vast gallery space.

    Decidedly urbane, this is the place to go to scope Perth’s edgiest independent fashion. One of the owners, Desi Litis points out the skydeck has a revolving lineup of visitors.

    “During the day we have people who are looking at the gallery wander outside, as well as people coming up from the café to have a coffee or glass of wine,” she says. “The crowds usually come in the evenings when we have live DJs playing in the bar, as it’s a great place to chill out.”

    Like all the other rooftop owners, she hopes more venues will join the skyward trend in WA, injecting Perth with greater vibrancy and creativity than it has ever seen –something Bob Hawke in particular would likely give a nod to.

     

    The Details

    Bob’s Bar at Print Hall, 08 9314 9000, printhall.com.au
    Mechanic’s Institute (Above Flip Side burger bistro), 08 9228 4189, mechanicsinstitutebar.com.au
    Rooftop Movies (City of Perth Roe Street carpark – drive in at 68 Roe Street, Northbridge; walk in off James Street, opposite Northbridge Piazza and take the elevator up), 08 9227 6288, rooftopmovies.com.au
    The Nest rooftop, The Aviary, 08 9226 0259, theaviaryperth.com.au
    Skydeck at VENN, 08 9321 8366, venn.net

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    — Perth —

    Bistro Guillaume – Restaurant Review

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • DECEMBER 12, 2012

    Perth’s answer to the Guillaume brand of restaurants is a jewel in the new Crown Perth, writes Rachel Hanson.

    Things don’t begin well. “Can we make sure there’s a McDonald’s or something nearby? Last time I ate French food, I needed a burger afterwards,” says my lovely boyfriend (LB).

    “When was that?”

    Long pause.

    “Mid-80s sometime, with my first girlfriend,” comes the eventual reply.

    It’s a retort-worthy comment, but a stern look is enough to silence him as we pull into Perth’s revamped gambling complex. Or so I’d like to think. He may simply be impressed by the looming view.

    After a billion-dollar makeover – yes, billion – Perth’s former Burswood Casino has been rebranded as Crown Perth, officially joining James Packer’s empire in September this year.

    The redesign has lured big names like Neil Perry (Rockpool) and Nobuyuki Matsuhisa and Robert De Niro (both Nobu) to establish restaurants in the complex, but it’s Guillaume Brahimi’s new offering that has drawn the most attention of late. Given the two-hatted status of long-time Sydney institution Guillaume at Bennelong, and the remarkable success of more recent venture Bistro Guillaume in Melbourne, local expectations are dangerously high – mine especially. Anything that gets LB eating his words for that McDonald’s remark is a good thing.

    There’s a distinct French provincial feel to the interiors, save for the crisp touches of modernity. Filmy white curtains clash with quirky wallpaper; ballooning chandeliers are clustered strategically around the room. Floors are alternately intimately tiled and wildly carpeted. Somewhat bizarrely, the restaurant overlooks a Hollywood-esque pool area and patio, which seems more Miami nightclub than moreish brasserie. But it works. Honestly.

    Indeed the level of, and attention to, detail here, from the architecture and design down to the arrangement of ingredients on the plate is so refined it almost escapes your attention. Despite the newness of this place, our waitress exudes a serene confidence that makes us feel we’re in good hands and, almost unbelievably, hardly a murmur comes from the busy open kitchen. All is just as it should be, in other words.

    Placemats pull double-duty as menus, reminding me of the value-for-money diners you’ll find on an any American road trip – but that’s where the similarities end. The menu here isn’t big, but it is well selected, with a heavy focus on meat, poultry and seafood dishes (the French do many things well, but catering for vegetarians isn’t one of them and the menu here is no exception).

    The wine list is filled with a well-priced selection of Australian and French varieties (but thankfully doesn’t overwhelm with too many options), and a glass of sparkling, though expensive ($18), proves a decent choice.

    Although we toy with the idea of escargot ($25), but the oysters ($42/dozen), steak tartare ($30), and braised octopus salad with white beans, olives, capsicum and chorizo ($26) prove irresistible.

    But before the entrees comes the butter. Sure, there is bread, but really it’s just a vehicle for the good stuff: light, creamy and silky, with the slightest hint of sweetness accentuated by a pinch of pink salt flakes.

    The oysters, both Pacific and Sydney Rock, need little more than a few drops of lemon juice (thoughtfully encased in mesh); alternately, a touch of the shallot and red wine vinegar.

    The steak tartare, scooped up with crispy cross-hatched chips, is surprisingly complex in flavour, and the combination of fresh spices lingers long after the last bite.

    Braised octopus salad looks more like a selection of tapas, and the mix of textures and tastes makes each mouthful different. Given the substantial size of the entrees, I would have been happy with a meal of just a few starters, but in the name of research, we must press on.

    A main of John Dory fillets with beurre noisette ($38) are a little too simply prepared for my liking, and slightly overcooked towards the edges, but the accompanying lemony caper sauce is a soothing consolation.

    LB’s choice – Berkshire pork belly with warm lentils, green apples and tarragon vinaigrette ($37) – goes completely against expectation in the best possible way. Instead of crisp, crackling skin, it pulls apart effortlessly. Rather than stewed chunks of apple, fresh paper-thin slices are arranged artfully across the top, with a vinaigrette that quietly complements the meat and lentils.

    And I’ve yet to find the right word to describe the Paris mash ($9). Sinful, creamy, decadent, silky, buttery, indulgent – they all apply, yet none come truly close.

    I’ve never been one to say no to sugar, but by this stage we are required to call it quits or risk being rolled out the door. All the same, as we head out I catch a glimpse of dessert at another table and promise myself to start with the chocolate soufflé next time. LB is uncharacteristically quiet on the way home. In fact, we drive past several McDonald’s and he never says a word.

    The Details

    The verdict
    Guillaume’s restaurants earn hats for a reason. His gorgeous food, combined with the European bistro atmosphere and attentive service, are an experience.
    We rated
    The attention to detail and the ambience.
    We hated
    Parking at Crown Perth can be a bit hairy.
    The score
    16/20; great
    The details
    08 9362 7551, bistroguillaumeperth.com.au
    Notes
    Bistro Guillaume is open Monday-Thursday 5:30pm-late and Friday-Sunday noon until late. Bookings strongly recommended.

    The AT scoring system
    Our review scores are based on a series of points, awarded across a number of categories including service, amenities, design, location, value, food and beverage offerings and that elusive wow factor.
    19-20 exceptional; 17-18 excellent; 15-16 great; 13-14 good; 11-12 satisfactory.

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