Perth, Australia: 5 Hot Restaurants, 1 Super-Cool Bar

You don’t hear much about Perth. But that’s about to change. It’s one of the fastest-growing cities in Australia — thanks to a booming mining industry, Perth boasts the strongest regional economies in the country. Everyone here is flush with cash. (It feels a bit like San Francisco during the late ’90s dotcom gold rush.)

This vibrant capital of Western Australia has also become an important gateway to Asia, with all the major international airlines now looking at Perth as a key intercontinental hub. As a result, the city’s restaurant scene has really come of age in just the past couple of years. Sydney’s Neil Perry has come to town, as has America’s Nobu Matsuhisa. But the celebrity chefs aren’t necessarily the be-all, end-all. Here are the five hottest restaurants and one seriously cool bar in Perth right now:

1. Andaluz
The basement of a historic brownstone in the central business district now serves as underground tapas bar outfitted with Chesterfield sofas, fringed lampshades, library shelves and exposed brick. Chef Scott Alfonso’s brilliant menu borrows ideas from Spain, but relies almost entirely on local products: panfried Freemantle sardines, ocean trout croquettes with crispy quail egg, pork belly with pear-ginger relish, fried lamb brains with black truffles from Manjimup. 21 Howard Street, Perth,(08) 9481.0092

 2. The Aviary
The Aviary is a sprawling restaurant and lounge complex that includes a 500-square-meter rooftop bar furnished with astroturf, palm trees, picnic tables and cabanas. The dining room is a more posh, black-and-white affair. Best bets on the globally inspired menu include red curry beef tartare with coconut and peanuts, and a duck confit risotto. Level 1, 140 William St., Perth, (08) 9226.0259

 3. Greenhouse
The focal point of rising-star chef Matt Stone’s kitchen is a wood-burning oven, which cranks out terrific designer pizzas and Middle Eastern-style breads. The laksa is made with local marron (incredible freshwater lobsters). Charred octopus wraps its tentacles around fingerling potatoes, the whole of which is painted with harissa. The restaurant itself is a marvel of eco-design, with walls made from hay bales, ice buckets crafted from old gas cylinders, lamp shades twisted from old fencing wire, and a bar fashioned from reclaimed plywood. 100 St Georges Terrace, Perth, (08) 9481.8333

 

4. Rockpool Bar & Grill
This the latest outpost of (Sydney celebrity chef) Neil Perry’s very Australian chophouse. Think massive, beautiful dry-aged steaks (and a killer burger) from grass-fed Aussie beef, along with big, meaty oysters from local waters. The wine list is packed with Australia’s best Shiraz and Cabernets. Burswood Entertainment Complex, Burswood, (08) 6252.190

 5. La Cholita
Australians are fascinated with Mexican cuisine at the moment, and no local example is currently hotter than La Cholita, which offers a wildly fun, tongue-in-cheek cholo vibe. And although the kitchen doesn’t quite understand tacos (they haven’t yet figured out how to cook a tortilla) or pico de gallo (theirs looks and tastes more like bruschetta topping), they do serve a truly outstanding pork hock that’s been slow-roasted in a wood-fired oven. The steak with chimichurri (granted, not at all Mexican) is excellent, and the margaritas are strong. 279 William St., Perth, (08) 9227.9238

 And the bar: Helvetica
Enter through the alley. But not just any old alley. Look for the alley with chandeliers hanging between the buildings — you’ll know it when you see it. The door is unmarked, but there will most likely be a queue, so you can’t miss it. And while you don’t actually come to this back-alley industrial loft to eat, there is a nice little menu of tapas-style snacks like goat cheese on baguette, roasted chorizo or miniature ham and cheese sandwiches, all made with panache. This focus here is barrel-aged cocktails, plus an extensive whiskey selection and an exhaustive list of craft beers. Rear 101 St Georges Terrace, Perth, (08) 9321.4422

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