When I grew up in Perth the supermarkets always had good and relatively cheap food available. However, I remember the local restaurants seemed to lack effort as far as the menu was concerned (good service was never an issue). It was as though they just relied on the high quality ingredients to carry them. Coming back to town after 13 years abroad, I think that situation has changed. We ate excellent meals everywhere we went, and the range of styles available was impressive. Perth is becoming a world city, at least as far as cuisine is concerned. It was also nice that all but two of the restaurants we visited (over a fortnight) had Al fresco sections – unfortunately the weather was a bit damp for us to take proper advantage of them. I also noted with interest that most restaurants listed the providence of their ingredients and that the vast majority of these originated inside West Australia itself – overseas elements were notable in their rarity.
While in Perth, two restaurants in stood out as being of a particularly high quality.
Lot 20 is almost hidden in a building on the edge of the cultural district near James St in Northbridge. The decor is modern gastropub. The service was very friendly without being too much. When asking about son-in-law eggs, the reply not only included the recipe, but also their cultural significance (a Thai dish made as warning to behave to a new son-in-law). After ordering the eggs, asparagus, cauliflower and a chicken dish, we got to watch them being prepared in the open kitchen which our table overlooked. All the food was excellent and perfectly cooked. The chicken deserves special mention. At first I thought it had been undercooked, but an exploratory taste showed I was completely wrong. It had been cooked in a water bath to keep it moist and tender – incredible. We also drank some excellent local beers. I used to say that beer, chocolate and TV were all clearly better in London. Now I will have say that the beer (and perhaps chocolate) are about the same – TV in Britain is still better though.
When I lived in Perth, Steve’s on the river in Nedlands was a large student pub (UWA is nearby). Since then the pub has been demolished and turned into fancy apartments. However, there is still a restaurant and wine shop at the site, still called Steve’s. Wine is a large focus of the restaurant and there is a dedicated sommelier as well as a large selection of local wines. The cuisine is vaguely French inspired. For an entree I had a chorizo soup – a spicy meaty mix, well balanced and not oily. Then the pork cassoulet with a side salad for mains. Beautifully cooked, it quickly filled my stomach, but I kept eating until finished – it was too good to leave anything behind. The wine was also very good, but I don’t remember what we ordered.