Have you tried tapas ? If you are new to tapas, it consists of small dishes to share, snack size portions for when it is too early for dinner (in the mediterranean they tend to eat dinner quite late i.e. after 9pm), but too late for lunch, maybe post siesta.
The typical kinds of tapas dishes are chorizo, fried potatoes, serrano ham and bread, prawns in garlic oil etc. and they are quite easy to make at home. However, some of the tapas bars in Perth are quite cheffy and you can find some real gems amongst the typical tapas favourites.
Far and away my favourite tapas bar is Andaluz in Howard Street (between Esplanade and St George’s Terrace). If you blink, you’ll miss it, but a little courtyard takes you through to a little homely bar which quickly becomes crowded, noisy and lively. The drinks menu is very extensive and it is a popular gathering place for after-work drinks.
I have had some amazing dishes here, and the menu changes regularly, but my favourites have included the chicken and duck liver parfait, which is the lightest tastiest pate you could image served with perfectly toasted thin bread; chick pea crusted prawns with avocado; kingfish ceviche; rare carpaccio of beef, mushrooms and mayo; and a ‘special’ salad with root vegetables and blue cheese.
If you like cider, Andaluz serve Napoleone cider (apple or pear) which I can highly recommend.
The only problem with Andaluz is that parking is not easy to come by and can be expensive. There is a car park at the New Esplanade hotel on Esplanade which charges $10 for as long as you like, so unless you can find a parking space, the hotel is probably your best bet.
Near to Andaluz is Greenhouse restaurant on St. George’s Terrace – I haven’t tried it yet, but they serve tapas, so I must be sure to schedule a visit.
Another fabulous tapas bar is Duende in Leederville which is open all day from breakfast through to evening. Tapas are available from noon and my favourites include mushrooms with blue cheese and walnuts; scallops with morcilla sausage and apple; amazing rabbit terrine. They also do fabulous breakfasts such as crab omelette, but I find the portion sizes on the small side.
There used to be another lovely tapas bar in North Beach called Barizzie, but looking online it appears to have closed, which is sad because it was good and fairly local.
There are various ‘tapas style’ restaurants in Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley. Beaufort Street Merchant serves food on boards such as a cheese board and a cold meats board. The menu varies with the seasons and they serve good produce. I love their garlic and chilli prawns when they are on the menu – there is nothing like dipping a fat chunk of bread into the oil that has cooked the prawns and chilli. The establishment is a cross between a bistro, a bar, a wine shop and a deli. I do find the food quite variable though and seems to depend on the chef each night as sometimes I have found it over-salted. If you pay a visit, have a look around the shop, you will find some gourmet produce in there, and they also sell the lovely Napoleone cider which you can take home.
UPDATE: Sadly, Beaufort Street Merchant has permanently closed.
Cantina 663 is not a restaurant that I have visited yet, but it has terrific reviews for breakfast, serves tapas and seems to be very authentic. Definitely on the ‘to do’ list.
Stop Press: Since writing this post, I have been to Cantina 663 click on this link for my review.
5 bar is another Beaufort street bar cross bistro and although I have not eaten there, I have had a drink there and the food going past did look very appealing.
It looks like I need to eat more tapas to add some substance to this post. Please let me have your recommendations too.