We have something we need to get off our chests…
A secret desire that we’ve kept to ourselves, biding our time, hoping that one day, finally… Scotch eggs would have their time in the sun as the on-trend food du jour. For too long we had gazed longingly (impatiently!) at gooey, golden Scotch eggs from afar.
We had just about given up hope, when we finally went to Bertie.
Arriving to Bassendean’s Old Perth Road at the end of May, Bertie has transformed the rustic former home of Cork & Bottle into a neighbourhood wine bar any suburb would be proud to have.
Underneath that soaringly high ceiling, a hint of the rustic remains in the fitout, designed by Mata Design Studio. The building is still owned by the family of Harry Stanford Hyde, who built the original row of shops post World War Two. At its heart: that long, weathered timber dining table and set of mismatched chairs – but the space has taken a more sophisticated turn with deep forest green HAY chairs and a row of sleek zinc-topped tables, designed to patina over time..
“People that live in Wembley, they have Mummucc, or people in Mount Hawthorn have Casa and La Madonna Nera,” explains chef Anthony Yuill.
“That’s the goal, to try and make a place like that – somewhere that the community around here is proud to have on their doorstep.”
It’s a brisk winter’s afternoon, we’ve sat down for a chat with owner, Basso local and Perth bar veteran James Connolly and Anthony – previously at La Madonna Nera and Shadow Wine Bar, also a Basso local – has popped out of the kitchen to tell us about Bertie’s blackboard of food offerings.
“We’ve obviously got an amazing chef in Anthony,” James tells us.
“He was working for some really great places and when the opportunity came up to bring him on board we jumped at that – and the food he’s been putting out from the kitchen so far has been really sensational.”
“I guess it’s an English sort of gastropub, but we’ve refined it to go with the wine offering we have,” Anthony explains.
“We’re both English: that kind of food, and those sort of chefs are big in the UK. I’ve always followed and admired them, so that’s where I’ve leaned towards. I just enjoy cooking it – and trying to get the flavours that I remember from childhood into the dishes.”
You know what that means. We got our scotch egg, baby!
And what an egg: perfectly soft-boiled, encased in succulent, perfectly-seasoned meat, and that golden and crisp exterior.
You’ll also find other classics on the menu like the Bertie take on bangers and mash, a Welsh rarebit or a striploin and onions, the steak imbued with the charcoal flavours of the Hibachi grill.
Although it requires a quick jaunt across the Atlantic, the Bertie Waldorf salad, unfussy and studded with toasted walnuts, was a prime example of bringing classics into the now – as was the mushroom parfait: a silky smooth, umami-laden emulsion topped with pickled shiitake mushrooms and served with house made potato focaccia.
“The homely, nostalgic aspect of it is the starting point… Then trying to refine it, make it look good, and taste amazing.”
While they’re settling into the new rhythm of service, they do have plans to switch up the offerings – with a beef Wellington and coronation chicken both on the chef’s hit list.
“The scotch egg will probably stay for a while, I imagine!”
Bertie shares owners with Vincent Wine, and James explains how the Northbridge bars’ wine director Rahuul Prasad has played a key role in shaping the wine list of the venue’s Bassendean sibling:
“He’s put together a really great list that’s a blend of local Australian and international wines. We’ve got 15, 16 wines by the glass, which I think is really important – a couple of sparkling, some whites, some orange/skin contact, rose, chilled reds and reds… A real spectrum of options for people.”
“It’s the worst thing when you go to a wine bar and they only have six wines by the glass. We’ve tried to make it as accessible as possible, there’s something up there for everyone’s taste I would like to think. And the same with the bottle list, there’s 110, 120 bottles on there: it’s a really well constructed list with options, all price points and all taste profiles.”
“We’ve got three beers on tap, something from Nail Brewing, they’re our closest brewery – they have a really great affinity with the people of Bassendean and the 6054, it’s really important to support and promote people like that. Then we have an international option then an English-style beer from Wilson Brewing down in Albany.”
If you’ve enjoyed a cocktail in Perth in the last 15-odd years, chances are that you’ve encountered James Connolly. Prior to Bertie, the bartender had stints as group bar manager for Long Chim, ARK Group and more, starting his Australian career at Must Winebar back in 2007.
“I’ve drunk a lot of cocktails over my career. The cocktail ethos is just drinks that I like to make and I think taste really good and I think are really accessible – trying to make them with the best quality ingredients that we can, so that they’re greater than the sum of their parts.”
“Everything that we do, we want it to be as good as it possibly can be – that’s really important to us.”
Bertie is located at 77 Old Perth Road, Bassendean