I went to Australia to dive the Great Barrier and Ningaloo Reefs. When I hit Western Australia (or WA, as locals refer to it), I decided to spend a few days in Perth. I checked out the markets and shops in the groovy Fremantle neighborhood, stopping for a beer at the famous Little Creatures Brewery.
I ate and drank my way through Swan Valley’s over 150 wineries, breweries, and shops, including Yahava KoffeeWorks, Lancaster Wines, Margaret River Providore, Edgecombe Brothers, and House of Honey. I swam with wild dolphins in Rockingham and visited the quokkas on Rottnest Island. "[W]hen it comes to the food, Perth is perfect."
But I’m not going to lie. What I did more than anything was eat at restaurant after amazing restaurant. Here are a few of my top picks for Perth dining:
The Beaufort Street Merchant has a European vibe with its closely packed tables and glass cabinet full of pastries tempting you the minute you walk in the door. The menu offerings are nearly impossible to choose from, but I would tell you not to miss the brisket sandwich that was massive and mouth-watering and the pig cheeks, which were tender and tasty. Leaving room for dessert is a no-brainer with their homemade donuts and local twist on bananas Foster.
I know people throw this expression around all too often, but I would seriously travel halfway around again the world just to eat at Apple Daily Bar & Eating House in Print Hall. Even though it’s a shared plates-kind-of-place and I was there alone, I threw caution to the wind and ordered big any way. I indulged in the crispy soft shell crab with watercress, pomelo, and nam jim; the saltwater duck with spring onion, flower bun, and hoisin; the pad Thai prawns with sweet pork and chili jam; ten hour braised short rib with kimchi and ssamjang; steamed jasmine rice; fresh mango; sticky rice; coconut sorbet, and salted peanuts. Each dish was delicately and impeccably prepared. The best part about Apple Daily Bar is the inventiveness with which they craft their dishes, blending flavors and textures in an often surprising and always delicious way.
Another fun place to eat is Bread in Common. This time, I had a partner in crime and we did it up right, sharing the mozzarella with basil, wild pepper, and olive oil; heirloom tomatoes with Dijon, basil, shallots, ashed salt, Barramundi tomatoes, jalapenos, capers, and basil; lamb ribs dressed in mint, chili, and black garlic; aerated chocolate with financier, mint, raspberry, and almond; banana with meringue, rosemary, marshmallow, and caramel.
One of my forever favorites from here forward is Moore and Moore Café in Freemantle. I went there for breakfast and ordered the Little Pot of Moore (a Tuscan style breakfast) that’s comprised of roasted capsicum peppers, garlic, tomato, herbs, and pesto topped with an egg, thyme, and parmesan served in a hot pot with Turkish toast and meatballs. I could not believe how such a simple combination could be so insanely delicious and satisfying. I would love to learn how to make that little number, although I doubt I could duplicate it respectably.
“I heard you like your drinks strong,” the bartender at Stables Bar says as he brings me my drink. “Strong and sweet.” The waiter apparently shared my sentiments with the handsome man now at my table with a Mad Hatter in hand, comprised of whisky, Disaronno, spiced rum, and maple syrup. It was picy, sweet, and perfectly garnished with passion fruit and an orange peel, but be sure to ask for it as it’s an off-menu specialty. As for food, I ordered the smoked organic beef brisket tacos with chipotle and iceberg lettuce; lamb shank ragu with orecchiette pasta and whipped Danish feta; the Stables wagon wheel with dark chocolate, strawberry, and marshmallow. It’s a deconstructed confection with marshmallow puffs that look deceivingly like meringues, chocolaty mouse fudge with just the teeniest bit of delicious salt on top, chocolate crumbles, and a not-so sweet but not quite savory strawberry sorbet. It was a like an exploration of flavors, textures, tastes, colors, and temperatures.
I have become a big fan of the Pimms cup. When I visited the Trustee Bar & Bistro, I ordered up the Pimms winter cup, which they make with Pimms liqueur, lime, mint, cucumber, apple, and ginger ale. It was classic, crisp, and bright. Since I’m a huge fan of brisket (if you couldn’t already tell), I started with the pressed brisket parcel with baby pears, cauliflower, cauliflower purée, currants, and pickled apricot,s and chose the duck confit with puy green lentil tomato cassoulet for my main. You cannot go wrong with carefully cooked confit and the Trustee has it down. For dessert, I splurged on the Trustee beignets with bay leaf anglaise and caramel. Those sweet little dumplings almost made me cry. I had to push the plate away before I went into super-sweet, deliciousness overload.
Perth is growing at record speed these days with waterfront construction underway, including the construction of a luxury hotel that is sure to upgrade the Perth profile. Sounds good to me, as long as they promise not to change the dining scene because, when it comes to the food, Perth is perfect.