Local food reviewer Fleur Bainger seeks out the best meals you'll score by the water in the buzzing western capital of Perth.
Make no mistake: we Perth foodies are as fanatical as they come. We may live in one of the world's most isolated cities, but rather than it hindering our gourmet obsession, it only seems to heighten it. In fact, many say our secluded spot on the map has led to a unique culinary evolution found only in the west. Take our access to phenomenal seafood, and our inventive ideas, free to evolve without external influence. And in a city spread over both river and ocean, we can indulge our foodie passions with some of the best views around.
Perth has been built from the riches of a long running mining boom, but over the past few years it has shaken off its industrial mentality, opting for culture and liveability via hundreds of small bars and creative restaurants. Something new opens nearly every week, most recently a bunch of venues in a game-changing revamp of the inner city's waterfront.
The first stage of the Elizabeth Quay development - named after Her Royal Highness the Queen - was revealed in early 2016. The $440 million entertainment precinct delivers ringside seats to urban reflections in the Swan River, an aquatic artery that divides Perth in two. By day, its curvy bridge, sculptures and playground make for a lovely stroll, and by night it amps up with twinkling lights and energy.
Mid-2016 saw tri-level tapas bar The Reveley, start serving ocean-fresh oysters, seared local tuna stung with fennel and grapefruit, and roasted pork belly licked with smooth, parsnip puree. There’s also gourmet burger haven V-Burger Bar and Isle of Voyage café, which is focused on seasonally-driven daytime dishes. A barge restaurant serving food while it floats is on the cards and, from October 2016, water taxis will take people on a progressive waterfront dinner. Just up the river, Bali hotspot Ku De Ta opens as a Perth incarnation at the On The Point development.
Perth enjoys more sunny days than any other Australian capital city, so naturally locals like me love to chow down while gazing at the yacht-flecked river or glittering coastline. For daytime views of the CBD reflected in the river, I’d grab breakfast at Mister Walker in South Perth. The same outlook pops by night, so consider a fancy-pants dinner at local institution, Coco's, a haven for glammed-up baby boomers.
Over on the coast, our crystal clear Indian Ocean is bluest in the morning light, and new beachside restaurant, The Shorehouse in Swanbourne is in prime position. Along with housemade granola, Benedict eggs and jaffles, it does more styles of Bloody Mary’s than anywhere else I know.
Just down the coast-clutching road, both Cott & Co Fish Bar and Il Lido are excellent options fronting famous poster-girl beach, Cottesloe. The former, understandably, excels at making WA's abundant seafood sing, while at Il Lido I'm hopeless at ordering anything other than their crab linguini - the pasta is house made and the gentle chilli, stock and caper flavours are phenomenal. If I'm in a low-key mood, I'll grab fish and chips from nearby Amberjacks, and sit on the shaded grass overlooking the ocean.
Further south is Leighton Beach, a pancake flat stretch of blindingly white sand with gentle, shallow waters. Bib and Tucker gazes across it, serving made-to-order tacos, long and slow cooked meats and spring-fresh salads. It's owned by former Olympic swimmer, Eamon Sullivan, who named his chic venue after two infamous WA bushrangers - I always spend longer than I should here.
Fremantle's historic streets draw plenty of visitors, and when in the port town I love Bathers Beach House and, in the popular harbour side dining area, Little Creatures microbrewery. Try the Creatures' kangaroo skewers with a craft beer - my favourite is the Rogers.
For something closer to the city, family-friendly Clancy's Fish Pub at City Beach should be on your list. It has a convivial, pub-like atmosphere and a menu ranging from fish and chips to popcorn prawns, confit duck crepes and jerk chicken. Outside, there's a casual café section and several playgrounds. Its newly opened neighbour, Odyssea looms large at the other end of the sand. The kitchen charms with kingfish ceviche, roasted bone marrow and chargrilled lamb, served in designer-feel surrounds. I've seen some gorgeous sunsets over the ocean from their deck.
With so much to feast on, it's easy to create a food-themed holiday Perth - something I'd definitely recommend.
Top image credit: Crudo Plate by The Shorehouse, Swanbourne