I’m not sure how to put this nicely, so I’ll just say it: I’m leaving. I know, I know. We’ve had a great 10 months. Really, it’s not you, it’s me (and visas, family ties, employment prospects … )
But as I prepare to head back to the UK, I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed our time together. Forget my raised eyebrows at your $16 toasties, or my confusion as to why restaurants kept closing up before 10pm.
Instead, lets remember the good times. After all, you have offered some truly fantastic food and drink experiences.
In the UK, I’m used to good Indian dining and less good appropriation of Chinese cuisine. But Perth, you showed me an unknown continent of delights. Pillow-soft bao buns bursting with crunchy crab at Lucky Chan’s. Delicious Malaysian flavours at Old Lane Street Eats, finely-tuned Thai tastes at Dusit Dheva; all that was just in Northbridge. Not to mention the buckets of slurpable noodles at Nao and Viet Hoa, and finely-tuned Vietnamese/French combinations at Albany’s Liberté.
I suppose it makes sense that in a hotter climate, you’d fancy something frozen more often. But I was still surprised by the amount of parlours and pop-ups that competed for my tastebuds’ attention, and delighted by the quality. Honey Creme’s Korean soft-serve was a great addition to Perth’s CBD, Red Spoon in Cottesloe proved a perfect post-beach stop, and Piggy Food Co (Fremantle) delivered the best iced-cream sandwich I’ve ever tried. But my pick would probably have to be Chicho Gelato, the Northbridge spot for a night-time sugar hit. Roasted macademia with white-choc crisp and a drizzle of warm nutella? Oh, Perth.
It’s important in any relationship to be able to admit you were wrong. And Perth – nay, Australia – I owe you an apology. Before I left England, I had only one reservation about coming down here: the beer. Based on past experiences/advertising, I pictured nothing but fetid lakes of Carlton Draught; lifeless puddles of VB; tasteless swamps of Hahn Superdry. I admit it – I had major doubts about our future.
But in my very first week, you steered me towards William Street’s Baby Mammoth and reassured me that everything would be OK. Much better than OK, in fact. A blackboard full of porters, stouts, double IPAs, Belgians and sours made my heart leap. And from there we shared the excellent Petition in central Perth. And Eagle Bay Brewery near Dunsborough, where the beers match the idyllic views. And Gage Roads from Palmyra, and their award-winning Little Dove. And Victoria Park’s Dutch Trading Co. with its Aladin’s cave of ale …
In the UK, “brunch” is often just a late, hungover breakfast where you opt for some posh toast. But Perth, you opened my eyes to the joyous possibilities this morning meander can offer. Roasted chickpeas, chia pudding, rosti with fruit chutney and always-perfect eggs? You gave and gave. Worth mentioning, too, that I’ve never seen such excellent vegetarian options anywhere. While bacon was mostly absent or woeful, and mushrooms were roughly the same price as gold, I’ll treasure the time we spent at Sayers’ Sister (Highgate) Rabbit in the Moon cafe (North Fremantle), Voyage Kitchen (Sorrento) and the underrated Angel Falls (CBD).
Perth, this will be one of the hardest things about our separation. You’ve spoilt me with creamy cappuccinos and bracing, flavour-packed long blacks. You’ve got so many worthwhile coffee stops I still haven’t had time to try (though Hay Street’s Moana Coffee is my favourite place to ponder, and Eillo, Polly, Bench Espresso and Toastface Grillah all do a great brew). How will I cope when I’m back in the UK, slogging past countless chain cafes, dodging people who spoon dry froth onto burnt black water? I don’t know. But as I hunt out those cherished, independent venues where the staff care about their coffee, I’ll think of you.
I could go on, but it would be too painful for us both.
So I’ll just say thanks, Perth. You’ve given me more delicious dining and drinking experiences than I can remember (and that’s not just because of Margaret River wine). You’ve got a fantastic thing going, with a food scene sparking with different influences and so many small yet superb businesses. Make sure they’re well supported so they can keep going; the last thing we want is for you to lose any of your Perthonality.
You’re not perfect – none of us are – and I hope in the future you’ll stop charging people for entry to food and drink events where they’re obviously going to buy stuff anyway. But I’ll never forget my time with you, and I feel like one day we might see each other again. Goodbye Perth. It’s been tasty.
p.s. Some of these restaurants were places I visited as a reviewer, and many were just lovely spots I encountered while exploring this beautiful city and state. If you’ve made it this far, then hopefully you’ve enjoyed at least one of my write-ups. And finally, a huge thank you to Foodie Cravings for having me on her team since September. Cheers!