Vasse Felix 2021 Winner

There are periods in a restaurant’s lifetime where every element comes together to create an experience for the diner that is a synthesis of everything that is right and good about eating out. If 2021 is anything to go by, Vasse Felix is smack bang in the middle of it. Is it the warm service? The way the estate wines – from entry level, to rare and exclusive, to curiosities – are each given their due? The elegance and airiness of the room? The answer, surely, is all of the above. Then there’s the food, which has found real focus and clarity under Brendan Pratt, a chef whose always had the skills, but who’s ideas now seem clearer, more refined. He’ll draw on the state’s best produce – much of it from Margaret River – then take it in new and unexpected directions. It’s a bold chef who’ll pair Rose Mallee beef with tallow-enriched milk, taramasalata and radicchio, for example, or use toothfish twice on a menu. But Pratt not only makes it work, he does it in ways that reframe the conversation. A shining light.