What makes a restaurant or eatery truly memorable and lures diners back time and again is often that one dish that they become known for. Dianne Bortoletto discovers a dozen of the best.
23 Railway Rd, Subiaco
At Restaurant Caleb, the one dish you’ll keep coming back for is the handmade crustacean pasta which is as generous as it is delicious. Containing large chunks of butter poached lobster, scampi and prawns, all deliciously coated in a saffron champagne sauce and served with caviar, Paris chilli drops, house mozzarella, Italian ricotta insalata and fresh herbs. Go for the pasta but start with the famous burrata, made from scratch, and stuffed with mascarpone cheese, infused with Margaret River truffle honey, 24-year-old balsamic vinegar of Modena, white truffle cream, and finished with basil and paprika emulsion drops with an accompaniment of woodfired bread to mop it all up.
169-171 Rokeby Rd, Subiaco
2/184 Rokeby Rd, Subiaco
The Italian menu has many worthy dishes but the one close to Larry Cherubino’s beating heart is the Salsiccia Calabrese, served simply with lemon and ciabatta. Salsiccia means sausage, and Calabrese refers to the region in the ‘toe’ of the Italian peninsula. The sausage is made by renowned third generation butcher Torre in Northbridge from a traditional Calabrese recipe, almost identical to owner Cherubino’s own family recipe. The meatballs star the same sausage meat and are served in a tomato sugo - you’ll want a plate of those to yourself. My pick is the veal cotoletta (crumbed cutlet, served sliced for sharing) with Italian slaw. Save room for dessert, there’s cannoli and tiramisu, the best two Italian desserts ever invented.
This unassuming shopping centre café boasts Perth’s best laksa, and after walking past Red Chair every week for six years, researching this article prompted me to stop and see if what they claim is true. It is indeed a worthy contender, even for a chilli weakling like me. The spiced coconut soup was packed full of flavour with some mild chilli heat which was making me sweat by the time I reached the bottom of the bowl. That said it was a 39-degree day, however I could still feel my lips and tongue, so it’s not crazy-hot. I felt fantastic afterwards, nourished and somehow purified. The laksa comes in a choice of chicken or seafood and with egg or rice noodles or a combination of both. I chose the combination and next time - and there will be a next time very soon - I’m choosing egg noodles. Red Chair, close to Farmer Jacks in Crossways Shopping Centre, has been serving Asian and Anglo dishes for ten years and has been under the ownership of Jane Cao for the past six years. Jane says the secret to her laksa is making it fresh every morning.
502 Hay St, Subiaco
Café by day, bar by night. For a memorable bar snack, head to Bark as the sun goes down, grab a cold pint and order a serve of moreish chicken parmigiana croquettes. They are as good as they sound, with little chunks of chicken and tomato surrounded in a gooey, cheesy crumbed cube of deliciousness - try eating just one. Sit outside on Hay Street, inside on a floral sofa armchair, in a booth, or perch by a bar table in front of the TV to catch the latest sport. There’s old school entertainment too with Connect Four, board games and Uno cards to play, and the house rules written on the wall dictate that there will be no arguments about whether or not you can throw out after picking up.
23/17-31 Rokeby Rd, Subiaco
Six Senses Gourmet Thai is elevated Asian cuisine, presented beautifully. There are so many worthy dishes to keep coming back for, but for me, it’s the tried and tested pad thai which wins the day. When executed properly, pad thai is a delicious meal in itself with layers of flavours and textures that make every mouthful of the coated rice noodle dish a delight. It’s hard to go past Six Senses’ version of char grilled king prawns and their own special pad thai sauce.
5/97 Rokeby Rd, Subiaco
Lulu La Delizia is akin to Mecca for pasta lovers, and the menu staple of tagliatelle delle Delizia is worthy of a pilgrimage. Fresh house made pasta that’s perfect in every sense is as much a highlight as the pork and veal ragu which it carries. I can’t go past nonna’s meatballs served with soft polenta – every time they have me yearning for my own late nonna. Order bread so you can relish every last morsel.
349 Rokeby Rd, Subiaco
There’s no right or wrong time of day to delve into Boucla’s Turkish eggs with garlic yoghurt and chilli oil that have a cult following. Boucla’s baked ricotta cake is also idolised across the city – don’t leave without a slice.
22 Railway Rd, Subiaco
Best served with a pisco sour or an icy cold beer, El Peruvian’s ceviche is a delicious rendition of Peru’s national dish. Using fresh locally-caught fish and made with a mix of local and Peruvian imported ingredients, each ceviche dish is served with tiger’s milk - not actually milk from a tiger but the name of citrusy lime marinade that ‘cooks’ the fish - sweet potato chips, red onion, raw corn and a dried corn from Peru called canchita.
199-203 Onslow Rd, Shenton Park
In Shenton Park is long revered trattoria, Galileo Buona Cucina, one of only a handful of Italian restaurants in Perth awarded by the Italian Government for meeting strict quality standards. The dish to order here is an
entrée, polpette jotta, veal meatballs served in a white wine sauce. The Italian staff in waistcoats surrounded by Tuscan washed walls does feel like going to an old trattoria in Italia. If you’re a sweets person, be sure to include dessert in the two or three course offering - there’s tiramisu and a nougat semifreddo.
123 Rokeby Rd, Subiaco
Is there anything more satisfying than the perfect bowl of pho? Fee Fi Pho Fum specialise in just that – a delicious and balanced fragrant beef broth with flat rice noodles, bean shoots and herbs that comes with a choice of raw beef (my pick), beef balls, chicken, pork, duck and more. Available to eat in the little café space or call ahead and take away.
345 Rokeby Rd, Subiaco
We’re all missing our Mediterranean holidays, but we’re lucky to be able to have a taste of the Greek Islands at Lady of Ro on Rokeby Road. From the chalk board menu, don’t go past the chargrilled octopus with lemon - it’ll have you dreaming of whitewashed walls and endless hues of Aegean blue seas with each tender bite. We love the dips with flatbread and the slow-cooked lamb shoulder with wine and herbs. Greek desserts are renowned and they are worthy at Lady of Ro – save room. Be sure to book - this little 50-seater is always busy, and as a bonus, it’s BYO.
279 Rokeby Rd, Subiaco
If you’ve got a hankering for some proper Gallic hospitality, then Bloody French should be your destination de choix. With a menu straight off the broad boulevards of Paris, you’ll find snails a la Bourguignone, beef tartare, bouillabiasse and gratinated crepes. However, the confit duck croquettes are what makes us go ooh la la on a regular basis. Just delicious.