The West Australian Good Food Guide is the only independent, journalist based reviewer awards in WA. The guide is a celebration of all that is excellent in the WA dining scene across all areas of cooking, entrepreneurship, wine and service. On Monday they counted down the top 50 WA restaurants of 2019; below are the winners (in order) that operate within the Perth region!
Santini Bar & Grill
The Santini experience stunned and delighted then and, in the past year, the restaurant has evolved further into a magnificent dining room, serving classic dishes and a destination for Perth eaters of all persuasions: business folk, special-night-outers, romantic couples, tourists and those who just love lunch and a terrific wine list.
Address: 133 Murray St, Perth
What can we say about Wildfower that hasn’t already been written in glowing terms by some of the best restaurant writers around the world. It has indeed garnered international attention and an intercontinental fan base, for its inventive use of indigenous and locally grown produce, foraged herbs, leaves and succulants, and for its elegant, minimalist dishes.
Address: COMO The Treasury, The State Buildings. 1 Cathedral Lane, Perth
Manuka Woodfire Kitchen
The integrity inherent in chef Kenny McHardy and in the food he chooses to put on your plate, is the single biggest ingredient in his success. McHardy quietly (no mission statements, no manifestos, no sustainability finger wagging) lives and breathes his beliefs in farmer direct sourcing, seasonality, sustainability and no or low waste. All these actions take time and energy to manage but, from where we see it, he has never wavered.
Address: 134 High Street, Fremantle
Lulu la Delizia
It may look like a non-descript, shop-front pasta bar. But don’t be fooled. Lulu La Delizia is the best pasta restaurant in the city. There’s plenty to get all fan boy about at Lulu, which opened in 2016 paying tribute to chef-owner Joel Valvasori-Pereza’s nonna’s cooking, drawing on the culinary traditions of her native Friuli.
Address: 5/97 Rokeby Road (Forrest Walk), Subiaco
Dinner is an occasion at Red Cabbage, one of WA’s finest that has stood the test of time. Owner-operator chef Scott O’Sullivan is a rare breed, quietly doing his thing for 13 years and picking up a swag of awards in the unlikeliest of spots, a stealth dining space in an office block overlooking the freeway onramp in South Perth. You need to go out of your way to get there. Locals know about it and keep coming back.
Address: 49/15 Labouchere Road (Cnr Mill Point Road), South Perth
Clarke’s of North Beach
Crisp, white linen, confident and old school. That’s the Stephen Clarke way of fine dining. And there’s many a culinary wunderkind serving up fish tacos on cardboard who could learn a thing or two about hospitality by adopting Clarke’s evergreen beats.
Address: 97 Flora Terrace, North Beach
The Le Rebelle experience is simple and likeable and with an underlying sophistication to it. It’s all about flavour, an easy style, engaged service and a chef who’s trying to delight us.
Address: 676 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley
Rockpool Bar & Grill
Rockpool Bar & Grill might not wear a flannel shirt and Una Bomber levels of facial hair, metaphorically speaking. It may not make the endless online lists that breathlessly pump the tyres of the latest new thing. But its combination of stunning cookery, use of exquisitely sourced produce and a well-executed service model, makes this stalwart one of the best restaurants in WA.
Address: Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood
Balthazar has a new chef, a new menu and a new direction. The food is still pretty as a picture (and tweezered, primped and styled to a “T”), but it has lost its daintiness and tendency to over garnishing.
Address: 6 The Esplanade, Perth
Il Lido Italian Canteen
Il Lido is the western suburbs go-to for a romantic meal, gal pal one-on-ones, a group knees-up or quick bowl of pasta and a glass of nebolio from its epic wine list.
Address: 88 Marine Parade, Cottesloe
In its heyday, Must was the bi-word for modern, French-style bistro dining in Perth. Its charcuterie, in particular, was the best in Perth with extraordinarily glossy rillettes and sleek, sublime duck live parfait, consistent headliners on its menu. It still rules the roost with its charcuterie and its cooking, now simpler, is as good as ever.
Address: 519 Beaufort Street, Highgate
Nobu is expensive for a reason: it’s superb. Chairs are pulled out to seat you. Staff know the menu inside out. Ingredients are top grade and the venue is easy on the eye. Anchored by Nobu San’s Japanese-Peruvian fusion, it is one of the finest (and funnest) restaurants in town.
Address: Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood
Young George Bar & Kitchen
Vibrant and energetic, Young George charms from the get-go. One of a small cluster of restaurants that have transformed East Fremantle’s George Street into a culinary mecca in recent times, this sleek neighbourhood bar doesn’t just serve a range of select drops from renowned and lesser known wineries, it dishes up some of the most delectable and dynamic food on offer in Perth.
Address: 48 George Street (Cnr Hubble Street), East Fremantle
Bistro Guillaume is one such stalwart on the Perth restaurant scene. Its bistro plates are classic and made with extraordinary technique, exemplary produce and great care. Put simply, BG serves up some of the best French food in WA.
Address: Crown Metropole, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood
Petition is effortless. From its post-Colonial industrial chic, to the polished service and attention to detail, to a flawless, simple, share menu and a stellar wine list (you can even bring a bottle from sibling Petition Wine Bar).
Address: The State Buildings, Cnr St Georges Terrace & Barrack St, Perth
When it first came to light that the world authority on Thai food, David Thompson, was to bring a Thai street food restaurant to Perth, it was the most celebrated opening of 2015. His triumph of casual dining, combining traditional Bangkok street food with contemporary flavours had fans struggling for superlatives back then, and continues to wow customers now.
Address: State Buildings, Barrack St & St Georges Terrace, Perth
Garum’s founding head chef Mario di Natale handed over the reins to Milan native Stefano Pingue in July 2019. The transition has gone without a hitch with the new kitchen leadership staying true to owner Guy Grossi’s Roman inspired dishes and aesthetic.
Address: The Westin Hotel, 480 Hay Street, Perth
Cook & Mason
Cook & Mason, born of a partnership between two dedicated artisans, a cook and a stonemason, has raised the bar on hospitality with its sunny, inviting demeanour — oodles of greenery, bare wooden tables and floors, a covered patio — and its disciplined food, good cocktails and minimal intervention wines. It is unpretentious, determinedly casual and fun.
Address: 125 George Street, East Fremantle
Lalla Rookh is a delightful downstairs bunker that would, should things go pear shaped, be a bomb shelter of choice for the more discerning survivalists. Its caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation from dodgy city tavern to snazzy restaurant began with pasta whisperer Joel Valvasori-Pereza. He now presides over Lula La Delizia and Melbourne’s Haynes has taken the reins with gusto.
Address: Lower Ground Floor, 77 St Georges Terrace Perth WA
St Michael 6003
St Michael 6003 is hanging on as Beaufort Street’s only fine diner. Copious cutlery, set out traditionally in cascading manner frames earthenware crockery and pristine glassware. The prim, white, front room leads to the rear’s more playful black booths – one has velvet scull wallpaper, another a mounted, silver deer head.
Address: 483 Beaufort Street, Highgate
Bread in Common
It’s a common rule when dining that you shouldn’t fill up on bread. At Bread in Common, you’ll make an exception. The in-house bakery makes some of the best bread in town, and no meal should start without spreading the famous Common Loaf with one of its flavoured butters.
Address: 43 Pakenham Street, Fremantle
Sunset is better with an Aperol spritz on the deck at The Shorehouse. It’s the go-to summer cocktail at this beachside nosh spot with Insta-worthy views and Hamptons vibe. Celebs love it. Swiss tennis star Roger Federer dropped in for a bite.
Address: 278 Marine Parade, Swanbourne
Bib & Tucker
If Bib & Tucker was in a suburban back street, you’d go. In a heartbeat. The fact that it is on the wide, flat and white sands of Leighton Beach makes it even more compelling.
Address: 18 Leighton Beach Blvd, North Fremantle
Laurel sitting is clearly not an option at Propeller. They are good. Very good. But in 2019, they got even better. The cookery – orchestrated by chef Kurt Sampson – continues to riff with middle eastern notes and all the heady, spicy backbeats that one expects from North Africa and the Levant.
Address: 222 Queen Victoria Street, North Fremantle
Como The Treasury is as elegant a hotel as you’re likely to find any where, so you’d expect its restaurants to measure up too. Post, the hotel’s default seven day a week, breakfast lunch and dinner spot delivers on the Como promise.
Address: Como at the Treasury Hotel, 1 Cathedral Avenue, Perth
While it might not be as orgasmic as the name suggests, Petite Mort is a pleasurable experience. Devoted to degustation, chef owner Todd Stuart runs his own race at Petite Mort.
Address: 225 Onslow Road, Shenton Park
Shadow Wine Bar
Shadow’s black, coat hanger ceiling beams, sheer draped walls and concrete underfoot is a scheme which doesn’t seem to date. It’s a pared back, industrial-chic interior and a respite from Northbridge’s fetchingly tatty, dog-eared and neon aesthetic. The restaurant has an equally pared back menu with a European backbone but modern Australian execution.
Address: 214 William Street, Northbridge
Talk about lifting your game. Samson’s Paddock slipped quietly onto the restaurant scene several years ago and, to be frank, it didn’t have a lot going for it. Last year, it poked its head up and we liked what we saw. This year, chef Georgi Partenov has improved the offer even further. It may not have a roster of hip hospo owners or be considered one of the cool kids on the block, but it sure over-delivers.
Address: 3 Glyde Street, Mosman Park
The Heritage Wine Bar
There are few, if any, Perth venues where diners make an entrance via marble steps into a lofty-ceilinged Palazzo style dining room which transports them to Paris in a Belle Epoque kind of way. Read that sentence again, if you have to. With Perth’s lack of CBD heritage buildings, restaurant dining rooms like that at The Heritage are rare and wonderful.
Address: 131 St Georges Terrace, Perth
This Freo funkster is like the jazz musicians who often play front of house here: eclectic, rambling and fun to hang out with. In summer the dappled tree-fringed courtyard is the spot to chill – in winter there’s a roaring fire.
Address: 1 Harvest Road, North Fremantle
Whether by design or destiny, Marumo’s reputation precedes it. Few places offer such an enigmatic promise: an unassuming suburban Japanese eatery that is nigh on impossible to get into.
Address: Shop 22, Chelsea Centre, 145 Stirling Hwy, Nedlands
Middle Eastern-inspired Bivouac excels at serving food you just don’t see elsewhere. Dishes are exotic, heady and bold. Goat, for example, is sourced from the family farm and pressed into disc-shaped nuggets and laid down on baharat-spiced eggplant relish and Yemeni hot sauce. Crowd favourite, duck liver pate is given an Israeli twist, with a crumbly texture and pickled veg. It comes with a mustard kasundi that’s show-stopping enough to go it alone; think fermented tang, rooty sweetness and mild piquancy.
Address: 198 William Street, Northbridge
Mayfair Lane Pub & Dining Room
Long live the office lunch at Mayfair Lane. Fridays are a melting pot of public servants, accountants and resource workers gearing up for the weekend at this rubbity dub. It’s part watering hole, part gastropub with napkins on tables, pressed tin ceilings and chandeliers.
Address: 72 Outram Street, West Perth
No other Indian restaurant in Perth does it like Sauma. It eschews the butter chicken, lamb korma, beef vindaloo suburban curry house clichés, for a more contemporary Indian experience. Yes, you can order Aus-Indian curries if you must but our recommendation is to order chef/owner Gurps Bagga’s modern Indian dishes.
Address: 200 William Street, Northbridge
Galileo Buona Cucina
Nothing, and we mean nothing, changes at Galileo year to year. Such immutability in the face of the swirling trends and fashions of the hospitality sector is not just brave, it’s like a counter-cultural revolution. It’s a strategy which pays off in spades for its legion of fans, who have little interest in pulled pork sliders or Korean Mexican mash-ups.
Address: 199 Onslow Road, Shenton Park
Oggi Bar & Eats
Old school yet modern, fancy yet informal, fine dining yet flexible; Oggi is difficult to classify, but in some ways its broad church approach makes it all the more satisfying.
Address: 300 Walcott Street, Menora
Fraser’s Kings Park
Fraser’s Kings Park is the flagship of the Fraser’s group. Opened in 1993, it remains one of the city’s tourist and business hot spots with its stellar views of Perth’s burgeoning skyline and its classic mod-Aus cooking. Executive chef Chris Taylor was there from day one and remains at the helm.
Address: 60 Fraser Avenue, Kings Park, West Perth
Nine Fine Food
We love a set menu, especially when priced right and the offering doesn’t detract from ordering off the card. We enjoy a BYO even more. Throw in an interesting mix of modern Japanese with Aussie notes and welcome to Nine Fine Food.
Address: 227 Bulwer Street, Highgate
Matilda Bay Food & Wine
Matilda Bay is an oldie but a goodie. Conservative, but not old fashioned, posh but not stuffy, it styles a fine mac’n’cheese with smoked cheddar and all sorts of on trend dude food.
Address: 3 Hackett Drive, Crawley
All selections and words by The West Australian Good Good Guide.
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Cover photo of Santini Bar & Grill