These are the best restaurant in and around Perth, as reviewed for our annual Restaurant Guide.
Sep 05, 2023 10:00pm
Perth may be considered a sleepy capital city, but dining out in this city is anything but. With casual-cool Italian restaurants, sky-high fine-diners and playful new Greek venues, Perth has a small but mighty culinary culture that continues to hum along nicely. Plus, there are evermore restaurants popping up in Fremantle and a longstanding winery restaurant in the Perth Hills, just a short drive from the city, that still fires on all fronts.
We’ve scoured the city and surrounds for the best places to eat, drink and celebrate Perth’s thriving dining culture. Here are the best restaurants in Perth and a couple venues nearby that are well worth the drive.
Mi casa, su casa. And if your idea of a happy home is a sharply designed space filled with mid-century accents, dialled-in waitstaff that care and fridges teeming with organic wine, so much the better. A perpetual buzz electrifies this soigné wine bar, although that might just be all of chef Paul Bentley’s ideas ricocheting around the kitchen. Often his mind races to Mexico (octopus al pastor toasts and roasted cabbage with a pumpkin-seed salsa, say). Sometimes he revisits his French roots (that’d be the shattery millefeuille sandwiching crème Chantilly and caramelised apples). But largely the menu explores the joys of cucina Italiana, from springy house-made cotechino with braised lentils, to tweaked pastas like pappardelle and oyster mushrooms showered with pecorino and pepper – think of it as high-octane cacio e pepe. For more of Bentley’s Midas touch, head to Si Paradiso for a rollicking Sunday session plus some of Perth’s finest pizze.
Perth chefs sure do love their stracciatella. But when was the last time you enjoyed those precious curds paired with roasted mushrooms, pickled white asparagus and – the real genius move – slivers of golden fried garlic? That’s the (not entirely French) magic of Le Rebelle, a maverick bistro blessed with both an affinity for classic cookery and the confidence to know when to ditch Larousse. While house classics such as crab toast, duck frites and house-made cheese aren’t going anywhere, these signatures are now joined by bouncy bigoli in a thrilling cuttlefish ragoût and a rotating roster of seasonal specials that might include dense wedges of roasted skate wing or an unctuous lamb hotpot. On-point cooking is just part of the story. Sprightly floor staff make wonderful hosts and ambassadors for this house of fun. The cellar’s joint French and Australian focus, meanwhile, mirrors Le Rebelle’s dual citizenships. An enchanteur, indeed.
It’s impossible to imagine Perth’s dining scene without Lulu. Clued-up out-of-towners and locals alike jostle for tables at the pert osteria, desperate to join one of the city’s favourite parties. While the room now sports a slick charcoal palette, the restaurant’s MO remains unchanged. Northern Italian food culture (spice, woody herbs, no small amount of butter) drives the kitchen’s thinking while the drinking’s centred around Franciacorta, nebbiolo and other regional signatures. Although gin-cured kingfish, plush meatballs and the grappa-spiked tiramisù are rightly regarded as classics, outgoing waiters will steer you towards the chef’s menu: a six-course throwdown starring new works and off-menu pastas. Take their advice and you’ll be rewarded with the likes of kingfish collar served with crisp pizzelle and dainty curls of saffron gramigna tossed through hunks of pork sausage. One of WA’s finest, without question.
You would expect the debonair rooftop fine-diner atop COMO The Treasury to be a class act. Still, that doesn’t make the appearance of this elegant glass-and-marble box any less graceful, or the poise of dapper waitstaff any less welcome. Wildflower’s tasting menus are equally considered, showcasing WA ingredients in intricate, meticulous arrangements. Roasted beetroot with pepperberry crème fraîche and a mini landslide of pistachio and beetroot soil is all earthy sweetness, while a slash of ajo blanco electrifies marron draped over sweetcorn purée. Harissa and the scent of cinnamon myrtle, meanwhile, ensure rosy Dorper lamb loin is anything but staid. To finish, lush chocolate mousse finds synergies with mandarin gel and pebbles of frozen yoghurt. And while the kitchen’s jurisdiction may be strictly local, the blockbuster cellar wanders the globe; the result being a list capable of injecting the special into any occasion.
Who says natural wine (bars) don’t age well? As Wines of While crosses the five-year mark, some HR wins see this pioneer in career-best form. Venue manager Philip Koch has introduced a little more restaurant craft to things, tightening service without losing the bar’s freewheeling spirit. In the kitchen, one of the city’s best co-head chef duos thrills with hit after hit of high-definition European farmhouse cooking. Pissaladière is crunchy and salty in all the right places. Lamb’s brain in lemon butter is a glorious ode to offal. Esqueixada, the Catalan salt cod and vegetable salad with blood oranges, is a joy. Whatever’s grilled on the konro – Berkshire pork chops or whole rainbow trout, say – is reliably excellent, as are unfussy sweets like chocolate cake with fig and salted honey ice-cream. Add one of Australia’s great low-intervention wine selections to the equation, and it’s little wonder this tiny gem continues to pump.
The title of “cool new kids on the block” looks good on team Yiamas. Their manner is informed and outgoing. Their workplace is a timeless, whitewashed Greco cottage. And their drinks list goes big on Grecian wines, spirits and on-theme cocktails. Most crucially, they’re also the enthusiastic middlemen between guests and chef Justin Scarvaci’s quietly brilliant interpretations of Hellenic cuisine. A filling of minced burghul and sour cherries ensures vegetarian dolmades are anything but predictable, while wedges of fine fillo studded with pastrami put an upmarket spin on the Greek pie, pastourmadopitakia. It’s the little things that denote Yiamas as an operation that cares: the salt-cod in the fish fritters is house-made; the olives are coal-smoked on the charcoal grill, and the same hearth transforms rolled goat saddle into a succulent, crisp-skinned marvel. Finish with a dainty baklava and bay-leaf parfait sandwich: further proof of what happens when tradition and assured technique come together.
BEST RESTAURANTS NEAR PERTH
When it comes to cooking seafood out west, Adam Rees is in a school of his own. He’ll slick ruby tiles of bigeye tuna with a supercharged fish sauce, then arrange them on a plush ajo blanco alongside roasted pepitas. He’ll dress noodle-like squiggles of blanched squid with an alluringly green herb sauce. And he’ll use black garlic and shiitake jus to help convince meaty bass grouper that it’s been reborn as prime rib. Just as the menu detonates expectations, so too does the setting: a no-fuss, cliché-free zone whose sandstone walls and patio-style furniture say “neighbourhood casual.” That relaxed attitude carries over to the laissez-faire service as well as the upstairs bar with views out to the ocean. It’s an excellent setting to sign off with a chocolate mousse tart and other beloved sweets, or to take a closer look at the wine list, which flies the flag for all things lo-fi and gluggable.
GT’s Restaurant Guide WA State Winner
Lunch at Millbrook is saddled with considerable expectations, which only seem to build as you make the hour-long drive to this seachanger’s fantasy in the Perth Hills. Thankfully, the team is up to the task, from the cellar-door crew that bid you welcome to the cheery waitstaff that patrol the cosy upstairs dining room. The kitchen is also in on the act, highlighting ingredients grown in the property’s sprawling garden. Italy is a key influence; scallops get flash-cured in acqua-pazza-like fermented tomato water, while blistered porchetta slices share plate space with braised Calabrian white beans. A delicious frugality is also in effect. Foraged weeds are immortalised in a flaky spanakopita just as windswept mandarins become meringue-crowned curd. Snappy estate wines, like the buy-in, are priced so all can play, although beer side projects are becoming more regular on the drinks list. A lunch (and day trip) to be savoured.