Perth: your new one-hop stop
If there’s one dish that the people of Perth are talking about right now, it’s a chicken larp. Since David Thompson opened his first Australian venture, , Long Chim (longchimperth. rth. com), last year, this chilli-infused salad – so spicy it has to be wrappedd in cabbage leaves to get past your r lips – has come with a side of bragging rights. “How much did you manage to eat?”
It’s not just the Thai cooking g at Long Chim that has captured the locals, but what it represents. The fact that a famous Australian chef chose Perth for his grand return, rn, rather than, say, Sydney, is proofoof that their city is finally stepping up p to the international stage. “We alwaysys felt like the little sibling, the one everyoneveryone overlooks,” one Perthian tells me. “Whenever something cool started up, people would say ‘it’s so Melbourne’.” Western Australia’s capital has long suffered from its isolation. It is more than 1,200 miles from the next nearest city, Adelaide – and the sense, from Aussies and tourists alike, that it’s just not worth the airfare. For British travellers, a flying time of 20 hours or more from London plus a stop-off in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Singapore made Perth even less accessible. All that will change in March next year, when Qantas launches the first ever nonstop service from London, cutting the flying time to 17 hours. The route will make Perth the gateway to Sydney, Melbourne and the rest of Australia, as well as a new and exciting destination in its own right. This high-octane city of gourmet restaurants, artisan food shops and hipster hotels will be but a single hop away.
Foremost among Perth’s attractions is its food scene, conspicuous in the State Buildings which once housed institutions from the Post Office to the city jail. Thanks to a £65million renovation, this combination of grand Victorian architecture and modern interiors is one of the city’s most elegant places to shop and eat. Long Chim occupies the basement floor, but at its heart is COMO The Treasury
The capital of Western Australia is reinventing itself as a stylish gourmet destination – and soon new direct flights will bring it closer to the UK. Emma John can’t wait
(comohotels.com/thetreasury), recently voted the second-best hotel in the world (after Ballyfin in County Laois, Ireland). Each of its rooms feels like a pied-à-terre and there’s a library, a luxurious spa and a pool that looks over the city from the fifth floor.
The show-stopper, however, is Wildflower (wildflowerperth.com.au), the rooftop restaurant presided over by Jed Gerrard and Steven Black. Both chefs are committed to working with ingredients with a Western Australian provenance, which is why their kir royale comes not with cassis but with rye berries, so flavoursome that a mere handful, uncrushed, does the same job. “You don’t even have to go out of the city to source some of our ingredients,” says Black. The restaurant harvests its own honey from hives on the roof, and Kings Park – the 1,000-acre site that borders the business district to create one of the largest inner city parks in the world – contains plenty of foraging material.
The challenge has been to create dishes that can harness unique and unusual flavours. A dry-aged duck breast is paired with sweet quandongs (a desert peach); the signature chocolate mousse is delicately combined with Geraldton wax, a colourful WA flower. The result is a menu that is fresh and fragrant, proof that modern Australian cuisine has left its macho barbecue roots in the distant past. Beneath the hotel, in her chocolate shop (suelewischocolatier. com.au), Sue Lewis works with similar resourcefulness and spontaneity. This week she’s been given a box of rice crackers, “and I wanted to do something with plums now that
Perth’s skyline, above, has been transformed in recent years