The Standard Bar 2017 Winner

This is a very singular award. We’re not looking for “Best Bar,” but rather “Best Bar Dining.” The winner of this award is a successful and popular bar, but which also boasts an impressive food program, exciting cooking, a serious menu and culinary innovation.

It’s a segment which barely existed five years ago. Then in the mid- to late-2000s a handful of pioneers in the Western Australian bar sector began taking their food offer very seriously, propelling superior bar dining forward into a new and exciting segment. They are bars where one goes to eat as much as drink a cocktail. Our winner this year is one such bar. Its food has been described as “sexy,” “brilliant,” “imaginative” and “damn fine.” Its food program is never dull and always booming with well crafted, bravura flavour and texture. The drinks program is also one of the best in Perth.

The winner of The West Australian Good Food Guide Best Bar Dining venue of the year, presented by AMP Capital, is The Standard Bar.

We took five with The Standard Bar owner, John Parker.

Q: What has been your favourite part about opening The Standard?
My wife and I moved here for a sea and lifestyle change. I was new in town and I didn’t know anybody so it’s been the amazing people I’ve met. They are a pretty creative bunch, especially around Northbridge. I love the flexible lifestyle of bars in general. It’s social and is as creative as you want it to be – definitely not boring – and every day is different.

Q: To what things do you attribute your success?
A: Experience. I’ve worked in some pretty good places in London, Melbourne and Auckland before coming to Perth – Michelin star restaurants through to dive bars. Having that broad experience has been really helpful. I love hospo – so my passion, hard work and having a good team is always handy.

In terms of The Standard’s success, I think because I wasn’t from Perth I looked at things a bit differently. Perth has really changed in the five years since I’ve been here. It used to be just full of pubs. The Standard is classed as a bar and I think that fresh eyes had a lot to do with it, as well as not many interstate or out of town operators when it started. Of course the landscape has all changed with lots more small bars all over Northbridge and that competition is such a positive because it helps you stay on top of your game.

Q: If you could do it all again, is there anything you’d do differently?
A: If I could shift time I would have opened last year, with Yagan Square about to open bringing the city to Northbridge. I’m always looking for ways to evolve and improve what we are offering, but still in keeping with the concept we have achieved. That’s why I enjoy the industry so much, it’s always changing – always a new wine coming out, or a new food trend. It’s not an industry that stands still. People want more these days, they travel more and have been exposed to more things so their expectations are high, which is great – the places that are evolving are what separates the good from the bad.

Q: What is your favourite cocktail and bar snack currently at The Standard?
A: Our mod Australian-Asian food offering is so important. We are a bar first with a strong focus on our drinks program but the same attention is paid to the food. At the moment I love our lightly poached and diced scallops which have been mixed through a salad of ruby grapefruit, mint, coriander and crispy shallots, dressed with a caramelised coconut fish sauce. As far as wine goes I love Dormilona wines and its rosado – a 100 per cent tempranillo. We always try to support local, independent producers both with food and booze suppliers because we are a small business too, and it might be a bit romantic but people have given me a hand, so it’s nice to share the love.

Q: What’s next?
A: It’s been a busy past two years with The Standard and Halford Bar opening plus a few other side projects. So 2018 will be a good time to get more of a work-life balance, having said that both venues are expanding. Halford is getting a new bar space, which will be ready in January, and we hope to extend the wine garden at The Standard with another level, which is still in design stage.

People want more these days, they travel more and have been exposed to more things so their expectations are high, which is great – the places that are evolving are what separates the good from the bad. "

John Parker Owner of The Standard