Perched on the Perth hotel declared the second best in the world, can Wildflower meet expectations? Fleur Bainger finds out.
Western Australia likes to do things differently from the other two-thirds of the country.
It looks to Asia, rather than the eastern seaboard, often talks of secession and refuses to join in with daylight savings.
It has a proud, defiant edge.
Wildflower, a fine diner encapsulated in a glass cube atop the lauded COMO the Treasury hotel, is as individual as its homeland.
But where WA can be brash and brazen, Wildflower is elegant and refined.
Take the food.
Diced emu blackened by onion ash.
Rare marron elevated with river-foraged greens.
Plump Albany mussels on bubbled ice plant.
You simply don’t see such things elsewhere.
The menu is based on the indigenous Noongar calendar’s six seasons and the ingredients, clearly, have a distinctly western trademark.
Executive chef Jed Gerrard, who grew up in country WA but honed his talent at restaurants including two Michelin-starred SaQuaNa in France and Black by Ezard in Sydney, has set out to create a flavour that is typically WA; and he’s nailing it.
So much so that the surrounds blur into the background.
Seal pup-grey velvet chairs on white marble floors meet a moody wallpaper scene of rain-swollen clouds and rod-straight karri trees, illuminated by silvery sunlight.
Opposite, floor-to-ceiling windows reveal Perth’s placid Swan River stretching to its southern banks.
Wildflower has a reserved, special-occasion-feel that suits small, well-heeled tables.
There’s a 15-page wine list and innovative cocktails blending things like eucalyptus essence and Geraldton wax.
The food follows suit.
Naked marron tail nudges both a pool of sea parsley oil, and a salad of sea fern, barilla and crunchy samphire topped with tart finger lime.
Dehydrated saltbush and chive dust bring a savoury edge to the creamy, brown butter emulsion, which I’d like to slather on toast for the rest of my life.
That’s just one entrée.
On another plate, white onion wheels contain deeply smoky emu cooked on WA jarrah coals.
Intricacy continues in the mains. Quandong halves match pillowy, dry-aged duck with textbook crispy skin.
Red endive balances the bush peach’s sweetness.
Then, red emperor basted in seaweed butter is freshened by the pop of dune succulents and fermented cucumber, and adorned with a squid ink net.
A custard finale is soaked in bitter pollen syrup made from honey harvested on the rooftop.
It goes without saying that everything is phenomenal.
Which is perhaps the next story WA will be telling, as it continues to run its own race.
The details: Wildflower
Wildflower, 1 Cathedral Avenue, Perth, WA.
Verdict: The way in which WA’s indigenous bush foods are presented in such a considered, contemporary manner can’t help but impress.
We rated: A place that embraces a defining West Australian style; in its native ingredient selection, its inventive flavour combinations and its flawless presentation.
We’d change: It’s a shame the list-style menu descriptions give little insight into the experience that awaits.
Notes: All this artistry doesn’t come cheap: mains hover around $48, entrées $33, sides $14 and desserts $24. Cocktails are $20–$28. But you get what you pay for.
All AT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.
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