Say g’day to Subi Continental: a little bit Euro, unmistakably West Australian

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“If people want to call it a tavern, if people want to call it a pub, or a gastropub, or a restaurant… Call it whatever you like, just come and have a vino and a great time. It doesn’t need a label, it just needs to be a place that you can come and enjoy.”

In spite of the high profile of incoming hospitality juggernaut Subi Continental’s imminent opening, Dark Horse Hospitality’s Group Operations Manager Katie Chan (previously State Buildings, The Leederville Precinct) has a refreshingly unpretentious outlook on the venue.

“We’re not trying to be the best of the best, we’re just trying to do something wholesome, honest, really good value – and just f**king tasty! That’s important, right?”

We’ve wandered in for a chat on a chilly Wednesday afternoon before they opened their doors this week – and despite the bustling activity surrounding her, Katie is as cool as a cucumber. “We’re aiming to open on Thursday, provided our equipment makes it off the Nullarbor!” she laughs.

(Note: in spite of a few remaining bits of kit still en route, they did manage to open on Thursday afternoon.)

As we mosey through the venue, she casually points out impeccable details in the venue’s fit out, like, tucked away down a corridor: brass handles with a pleasingly ergonomic bend, attached to cabinets yet to be filled with wine. Most customers won’t see these, but the attention to detail is no less than if it were the front door.

Much like Katie’s relaxed approach, the venue exudes a kind of quiet confidence. The impressively expansive space stretches around Rokeby’s corner onto Roberts Road, taking up prime position at the base of Subiaco’s tallest, perhaps most contentious, luxury high rise.

Sandstone, timber, high ceilings, brass fixtures: it’s all rather easy-breezy and pared back, but with an unmistakably refined sensibility. And also – an unmistakably Australian kind of vibe.

Subi Continental
Subi Continental

“A few people have said to me ‘Oh, you’re doing a European bistro’… Yes and no. We’ve looked at Euro-inspired bistros and gone: ‘These are the things that we really like and are really cool, but we’re going to pare it back and do a really contemporary, modern version of it.'”

Subi Continental

So while you’ll find the menu – courtesy of Head Chef Marcello Segalina – stacked with dishes like lobster mac and cheese, rib eye with Café de Paris butter or classic burgers, the nostalgia dial has been turned down in favour of a relaxed, Australian kind of approach – and the shiny star at the centre of it all will be the raw bar, loaded with a selection of local seafood on ice.

“The raw bar is going to be phenomenal, being able to order a selection of West Australia’s best seafood to be sent out to you – you can sit outside and have a local lager, a bowl of chippies and oysters, or you can sit at the bar, order the raw bar and have it in an intimate dining experience.”

“This should be the hub where you go for a quiet glass of wine on your way home, if you have a Sunday afternoon where you don’t want to sit in your house but you don’t want to see friends – come and sit in the corner in the sun and read a book and have a glass of Piquepoul, which is to me, sunshine in a glass… And just relax! And if you decide to stay for dinner, we’d love to have you.”

“Something that I’ve heard Miles say a couple of times now is ‘people having conversation’… It’s about people being able to sit and talk and enjoy a glass of wine and a meal.”

The Miles she refers to is Miles Hull: the head honcho of Dark Horse Hospitality Group, as well as the man behind The Quarter Acre Hotel, Northbridge’s Ruinbar and neighbouring Pretty Good Pizza, East Freo’s waterfront Jetty Bar & Eats, Dunsborough’s just-opened Southcamp, the upcoming The Lodge Wadjemup – plus an impressive 20-plus years that includes being the first General Manager at Little Creatures, opening the Alex Hotel and even a stretch at Gage Roads as Head of Marketing.

“We want it to be really approachable, and something that you’ll find really consistent with Miles’ venues is a sense of value – I think perception of value is really important,” Katie explains.

“It’s great that we can put something delicious in a glass or something beautiful on a plate, but at the end of the day you’ve worked really hard for your money and if you hand it over and you don’t feel like you’ve gotten value, it doesn’t matter how delicious those things are, it’s unlikely that you would come back.”

The same approachability is being applied by Katie to the wine list:

“If you want to sit there and talk wine with me, I can do that! If you just want to be given two options to choose from, I can do that too. And it’ll be priced really reasonably – trying to find things that are delicious, that are not $26 a glass. Everyone’s cost of living has gone up, it’s expensive to live in Australia, you should still be able to go out and enjoy the finer things in life without feeling like you can only go it once a month of once every three months because it’s so expensive.”

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“I love wine, I’m definitely not somm level – but I have really great relationships with my suppliers. It will not be a European wine list… Especially with Lulu’s down the road, there’s no way that we would need to, and I don’t think it fits the space.”

Everything is from Western Australia,” Katie explains as she emphatically glides her hands over the timber table.

“We’re trying to put an emphasis on local, so wines will be local. I’m reaching out to a few guys from the Swan Valley – there’s some amazing things coming out of the Swan Valley. And we’ve obviously just opened Southcamp in Dunsborough, so we have the guys starting to brew beer for us which is cool – we’ll have that on tap here once it’s ready to go. We’re very much trying to keep everything central.”

“As Subi’s evolved, here we are! We happen to be very fortunate that we’re launching as it starts to hit its stride. It’s worked out beautifully.”

Subi Continental is now open, and is located at the corner of Rokeby and Roberts Road, Subiaco.