To enjoy a night filled with incredible food is one of life’s sweetest pleasures; to make it is another thing entirely. Chefs are a hardworking lot. Late nights, weekends and public holidays sacrificed for a hot kitchen and a spewing docket machine, allowing us the opportunity to enjoy a meal out with family and friends. But when the stoves are off and the benches are clean, where do these masters of chaos go to find that perfect meal? Where does one find the crème de la crème, the jewels of the oasis, the best of the best? We chatted with a veritable smorgasbord of Perth’s finest chefs to find out where they like to go on their nights off from the pass.
Born out of a love for the old-world Parisian style bistros of New York City, Liam and Sarah Atkinson’s Le Rebelle is a ‘nod to the past and a look to the future.’ Pumping out contemporary renditions of classic hors d’oeuvres, plats principaux and bistro classiques – such as steak tartare, crab toast and of course the renowned glazed Wagin duck with frites and béarnaise sauce – it’s not hard to be swept up in the traditions of old. “Classic French is where every chef should start,” Liam Atkinson says, a believer that the recent waves of culinary maturation have contributed to the bistro’s popularity amongst chefs and diners. “Chefs crave the little things done well. Not just in food, but service is the most important thing. We bend over backwards to supply service. On those days off all you want is simple food and amazing service.”
676 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley
Lulu La Delizia
“I am in awe of that man.” A sentence that was consistently uttered by chefs and restauranteurs as this article came together. They were of course talking about Lulu La Delizia chef and WAGFG Chef of the Year: Joel Valvasori-Pereza. Named and dedicated to the lessons and cooking of his grandmother, Valvasori-Pereza’s Lulu La Delizia is packed with comforting and rustic North Italian flavours with a refined contemporary edge. With antipasti and snacks that foreshadow the greatness that’s to come, a meal is usually followed by one of Lulu’s famous handmade pasta dishes and finished with a tiramisu that leaves no doubt of the osteria’s magnificence. “Our approach to food really centres around quality ingredients and sound technique,” Valvasori-Pereza says. “Lulu’s is really an extension of our home and our family’s beautiful hospitality. Always welcoming, glasses always full.”
5/97 Rokeby Road, Subiaco
Anyone who has made a trip to the south-west has visited one (or a few) of the spectacular wineries that make up the region. Overseen by Chief Winemaker Virginia Willcock, Vasse Felix grows some of the best Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon wine blends that the state has to offer. Vasse’s restaurant – voted Best Restaurant in WA by the WAGFG in 2021 – is helmed by head chef Brendan Pratt, who alongside a passionate and hardworking team are always striving to find new and inventive ways to ‘cook the food to the wine.’ Celebrating the very best of WA produce, Pratt’s approach to cuisine features a local and seasonal menu that plays with Japanese and Korean influences. Turning to fermentation to reduce wastage and create new flavours, Pratt’s “less is more approach” allows you to experience the essence and quality of south-western ingredients, produce and terroir.
4357 Caves Road, Wilyabrup
A prime contender for the best pizza in town, Tania Nicolo and Ryan Bookless’ Monsterella is a favourite amongst Wembley locals. A friendly – and ever so busy – neighbourhood pizzeria, Monsterella pumps out delicious and chewy woodfire pizzas thanks to a 48-hour cold ferment and the very best of local and imported D.O.P ingredients. Although famed for their perfection of the Italian classic, Monsterella continues to gain popularity for its relaxed atmosphere, Abruzzei street food and terrific handmade pasta dishes, including the ever so popular truffled pappardelle carbonara and spaghetti with macadamia and spinach pesto. Owner Tania Nicolo attributes the influence of family and a love of caring for others as the reasons for locals’ continual return. “When I was younger and my friends would come over, they always enjoyed a bowl of my mum’s homemade pasta,” Nicolo recounts. “I always loved that feeling of watching someone enjoy something so simple.”
46 Grantham Street, Wembley
James Parker Sushi & Sake
When it comes to the mastery of Japanese cuisine in WA, look no further than James Parker. A contemporary izakaya on James Street in Northbridge, James Parker “shares true Japanese food and culture” through experience and honed technique. Appreciative of the positive response to the eatery, owner Nao and manager Ayumi remain excited by the breadth and quality of the produce available to them. Indulge in masterfully sliced sashimi, sensational savoury egg custard with sea urchin, shiitake and salmon roe, and carefully prepared assortments of handmade sushi rolls, nigiri and grilled specialities, each dish standing out as both wonderfully unique and incredibly delicious. Accompanied by an impressive sake list, watch the evening melt away as you are overcome by the beauty of this remarkable cuisine.
Shop 2, 182 James Street, Northbridge
Everyone loves a rogue. A rascal, a scoundrel, a good for nothing son of a gun that doesn’t play by the rules. From Liam and Sarah Atkinson of Le Rebelle comes Bar Rogue: a quaint wine bar that has been quick to capture the hearts of chefs and Perth diners. In the kitchen is Brent Pedlar and head chef Sofika Boulton, whose menu of passion projects and childhood classics is a masterclass in balance and flavour. From crispy skin cucumber sandwiches to spicy “supa crunch” lobster tacos, each dish at Bar Rogue is a creative treat. Boulton describes the opportunity to “go Rogue” with her menu as “a luxury,” and is excited to see the uninhibited creative philosophy take hold across more kitchens in WA. “What’s most exciting, is that I can see chefs – especially chefs my age and younger – start to forget about all the naff rules that surround cooking,” Boulton says. “Chefs are growing more comfortable to just do what they want, and cook what they want without inhibition, and that’s super exciting.”
2/515 Beaufort Street, Highgate
Named after the capital of Sarawak, Malaysia (Kuching), co-owner Calvin Chong’s KCH is a modern reflection on homestyle Malaysian cooking. Recent winners of the WAGFG’s Best Casual Dining award, KCH’s small kitchen in no way inhibits its ability to go big on flavour. Chong’s menu is filled with plenty of heart, skill and nostalgia with bold aromatic dishes unlike any other. A rotating list of specials keeps the menu as exciting as your first visit, while the classics will have you planning your next trip back. With highlights such as Mumma Chong’s curry and rice and the char kueh tiaw to name just a couple, it’s easy to see why WA chefs clamour to this busy little eatery.
Unit 41/10 Angove Street, North Perth
Starting off as a clever way to handle the overflowing Monsterella, MUMMUCC’ has quickly evolved into a culinary powerhouse of its own. Inspired by the walk-in bistros of Sydney and Melbourne, the neighbourhood wine bar and eatery tailors to small groups and catch ups. When it comes to food, self-professed “cowboy” Matt McDonald’s incredibly flavourful and creative menu features a lively blend of Italian comfort and Asian punch. Think sopressa and prawn tortellini with uni butter and espellete, koji roasted baby carrots with macadamia cream and sesame pangrattato, and Angus fillet tartare with bonito cream, enoki and a soft egg. McDonald’s humble and passionate approach to cuisine has transformed MUMMUCC’ into a Mecca amongst chefs, a phenomenon that McDonald describes as “overwhelming.” “I’m definitely flattered, it’s nice to have validation from your peers,” McDonald laughs.
“I’m glad we found a way to make it work. The trick is to surround yourself with good people.”
46/56 Grantham Street, Wembley
We would like to personally thank the hard-working and passionate cooks, chefs and
restauranteurs that took the time to contribute to this article:
Denver Stevens (Bungalow Neighbourhood Social), Brendan Pratt (Vasse Felix), Sofika Boulton (Bar Rogue), Joel Valvasori-Pereza (Lulu La Delizia), Chase Weber (Executive Chef: The Standard, The Royal, Fleur, Willi’s, Dandelion), Richard Overbye (Wildflower, Capsule), Kim Brennan (Executive Chef: State Buildings), Liam and Sarah Atkinson (Le Rebelle), Cormac Smith (Hearth), Brendan Pang (Bumplings Perth), Tania Nicolo (Monsterella), Gurps Bagga (Sauma, Topi), Elijah D’Vauz (Vinotto), Ben Keal (Executive Chef: Good Company, The Elford, The Camfield, The Reveley, The Stables), Matt McDonald (MUMMUCC’), Nao and Ayumi (James Parker Sushi & Sake), Matthew Sartori (Capsule), Paul Bentley (Si Paradiso, Casa), Adam Rees (Madalena’s Bar).
Header image: Monsterella