A chef rates his own fine-diner? Unsurprising. Our critic agrees with him? Book a table. Jed Gerrard, executive chef of fine-diner Wildflower, and Max Veenhuyzen, Qantas magazine's Perth-based restaurant reviewer, reveal their top restaurants.
Is there one restaurant that really nails the Perth vibe?
JG Petition Kitchen, headed by chef Jesse Blake, is one of my long- time favourites. Located in a corner of the historic State Buildings, it serves the best broccoli salad in town and has that laid-back Western Australian feel, with relaxed and friendly service.
MV Island Market at Trigg is casual and by the beach. One of the city’s best chefs, David Coomer, is behind the food. They make the pita bread for their kebabs and a lot of their stuff gets wood-roasted, including a great duck dish and pineapple that’s caramelised for a dessert.
What’s the city’s best fine-diner?
JG Without a doubt, it’s Wildflower – not because I’m the executive chef but because it offers a genuinely world-class dining experience. I think it’s due to the whole ethos of the restaurant, which follows the six seasons of the Indigenous Noongar calendar. There’s been a recent move towards more casual dining in WA but there’s always a place for quality.
MV I’m not sure that fine dining is something Perth excels at or even wants but when there’s a big occasion, Wildflower ticks all the boxes. The food is really polished and precise, with a strong native Australian accent. I went there recently and had local abalone with a squid ink crumb. It was insanely delicious.
And your top choice for brunch?
JG I like to go to Propeller. It’s a Middle Eastern-style restaurant inside a former bus garage. They’re famous for brunch pizzas and make their own Turkish beef sausage that’s served on flatbread with an egg in the middle – you cut it open and the yolk oozes out. They also do a spicy Bloody Mary. And it’s casual enough that you can take your dog.
MV Go directly to Hampton & Maley. The location [on the Albany Highway] isn’t much to write home about, unless you’ve got a thing for bus stations and highways, but the quality of the cooking is a cut above. The owners ran Restaurant Amuse, Perth’s most awarded fine-diner [now closed], for more than a decade and they bring that laser-sharp focus to the café space. The crab omelette is a masterclass in technique.
Where would you find the best weekend dim sum?
JG I head to The Wang’s Treasure House (4 Wellington Road, Morley; 08 9275 4020), which is a funny place – it’s like stepping back in time. The interiors are quirky and outdated Chinese style, which I think is cool. And the dim sum – especially the barbecue pork buns – is really good.
MV In a perfect world, I’d conduct my own roving Northbridge dim sum lunch. It’d start at Fortune Five with steamed dumplings and chicken feet then move across the road to New Moon (63-65 James Street, Northbridge; 08 9328 8720) for all the fried stuff. Next, Hong Kong BBQ House for a roast pork hit, finishing at Northbridge Chinese Restaurant (26 Roe Street, Northbridge; 08 9328 9288), where sublime molten salted egg yolk custard buns await.
What is your favourite place to sink a beer by the water?
JG The Cottosloe Beach House is all about location, location, location. Sometimes there are live bands and DJs. It’s my place for a pint of pilsner from local brewery Eagle Bay.
MV If I want to show people how pretty Perth’s beaches are, I head to Il Lido. It’s an Italian cantina at Cottesloe Beach but you’re welcome there just for a drink. There are very good wines, great sliced meats and tables outside beneath the pines.
Who does Perth’s best sandwich?
JG Le Vietnam (80 Barrack Street, Perth; 08 6114 8038) for crisp pork belly banh mi. I’ve travelled extensively through Vietnam so I know what a traditional banh mi should be like and they nail it. The white bread rolls are super-crunchy, the pork is really fatty and the pickles and chilli condiments are on point – they just get the balance right.
MV In Perth, we do this thing called a continental roll, with salumi and other Italian cold cuts, cheese and antipasto – like a muffuletta. The nonnas at the two Re Stores (231 Oxford Street, Leederville; 08 9444 9644 and 72 Lake Street, Northbridge; 08 9328 1877) make the benchmark version at their legendary Italian delis. I go to the Leederville one because it’s livelier, especially on weekends when people are picking up meat and cheese. I get a house special – several kinds of cold cuts with salad and pickled peppers.
What about interesting bar food?
JG The bar snacks at Long Chim are out of this world. Their spiced cashew nuts go perfectly with beer and the beef skewers are one of my favourites. [Executive chef] David Thompson has factories in Thailand where he makes the curry pastes for all his venues – there’s nowhere else in Australia that cooks Thai street food with the authenticity of Long Chim. Whenever I head down there, I feel like I’ve been transported to Thailand.
MV Tiny’s, the new place from the Mary Street Bakery crew. The food is delicious and, at lunchtime, you can get pasta for one or a sandwich made with roast chicken. What’s great, too, is that you can eat a lot of it with your fingers – a sign of good bar food.
Is there a great restaurant no-one knows about?
JG Pho Huynh Restaurant (7/70 Marangaroo Drive, Girrawheen; 08 9343 3886) is a hidden gem. The area is a mini Vietnamese hub, sort of like Cabramatta in western Sydney. They do this great grilled pork chop with fermented chilli paste on it – it’s addictive. They’re also pho pros and know how to stuff a mean chicken wing.
MV Not nearly enough people are talking about Young George. To the naked eye, it looks like an easygoing neighbourhood bar in East Fremantle but chef Melissa Palinkas cooks like a boss. She makes her own charcuterie – and turns the offcuts into ’nduja, a spicy, spreadable salami. She also makes a ridiculously good marron thermidor with truffle from Manjimup, where the marron originates, and creates fruit “doughnuts” by coring supermarket-rejected Fuji apples and cooking them in butter and brown sugar until they’re soft and caramelised.
SEE ALSO: First-Timer’s Guide to Perth