Getting back into cooking since 2009.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The best restaurants in Perth?

Gourmet Traveller released their annual restaurant guide earlier this week, which includes a Michelin-style three-star rating system, a top 100 list for the country and top 10 lists for each capital city.

Anyway, the Perth list is pretty solid, if mostly predictable:

1. Restaurant Amusé
2. Star Anise
3. The Loose Box
4. Jackson’s
5. Nahm Thai
6. Must Winebar
7. Maya
8. Fraser’s
9. Divido
10. Lamont’s (East Perth)

How can restaurants that do not have stars (Fraser's and Maya) beat a one-star restaurant (Divido)? I can understand how this might happen if the stars and the regional lists were compiled separately; different critics might be involved in the separate processes, or maybe the restaurants could be assessed by different criteria. This is one guide, with Divido scoring a star yet ranking lower than two no-star restaurants! (EDIT: Jane Cornes, the WA editor of Gourmet Traveller, confirmed via email that an error was made in compiling the WA list, and Divido should be placed above Fraser's and Maya).

I'm pleasantly surprised to see Amusé top the list after eating two spectacular meals there in the last few months. I can still vividly recall their rabbit, ceps and thyme dish, a small individual lasagne with an intense, earthy porcini flavour, served as part of their standard 12-course degustation.

musé scored two stars, making it the only two star restaurant in WA. The second star for Amusé is well deserved, but does Perth really only have one two-star restaurant?.

If you compare Perth's list to those of other cities, you can definitely make a case for Perth being slightly underrated by the GT critics. Star Anise in particular surely deserves a second star; it was rated 4/5 by John Lethlean in the Australian last weekend and would likely have kept its second star if it was in Surry Hills rather than Shenton Park. I'm not quite sure why Star Anise went from two stars to one. Perhaps Amuse's promotion exhausted Perth's quota of stars.

Still, even allowing for Perth being slightly hard done by, and controlling for our smaller population, it's clear that we're miles behind other cities, even Adelaide. We've got a few great fine dining places, heaps of decent, cheap Asian places and not a hell of a lot in between. I can't work out why.

A few high-profile chefs interviewed by WA Today suggest that Perth diners need to stand up for themselves. There's definitely something to that, people are too accepting of mediocrity (and expensive mediocrity at that). But why would that be? The issue that comes up whenever Perth is discussed, our isolation, might be a factor, but I'm not so sure. Are we less well-travelled than people from Adelaide? I doubt it.

Great mid-range places like Cantina fill me with hope, as does the mini-boom in small bars that we're experiencing. Maybe things are starting to turn around. I'll be interested to see if there's any movement in next year's list.


  1. OK if you guys don't take me to Amusé when I am visiting you're going to be in trouble.

  2. Oooh it's kind of expensive though, and we're going again next week for Natty Carson's birthday. Maybe we could have the petit degustation?

    (We're saving for San Francisco, on the hella financial straight-and-narrow)

  3. Yeah I'm not sure i'll be able to afford another amuse pre-holiday sorry :( I'd take you the HECK to cantina though.

  4. Great post and great blog. Will spend some time browsing through the archives!


    I've still never been to Amuse. I've always wanted to try a whole bunch of those places on that list. Never been to Maya (a crime for someone so obsessed with indian food!) or Nahm Thai, which looks so nice...ahhh man, so many restaurants, so little time!

  6. Fratelli Restaurant Perth and Fratelli Cafés strive to create a true taste experience with impeccable service for our guests. Contact for event, catering and Wedding Catering Perth.