Parisian elegance and New York bravado intertwine at Subi Continental, an all-day bistro for Subiaco locals to call home.
An all-day venue with the feel of a village meeting spot was the brief for Subi Continental. It’s a concise vision with broad appeal that hospitality veteran Miles Hull hopes will revive the community spirit of the defunct pavilion markets.
“The markets used to be the heart of Subiaco,” says Hull. Today, the space is home to Hull’s latest endeavour: a 300-seat multifaceted venue that takes “inspiration from European all-day bistros but with modern sensibility.”
The menu features the best of both French and American bistro classics. Take, for example, steak frites with béarnaise or a lobster mac and cheese with a bisque béchamel. Counter-bar diners can enjoy house Gildas or a classic cheeseburger, while delicate madeleines are baked to order.
Equally as impressive as the food, the space marries hallmarks of bistro dining rooms, such as plush banquette seating, with a uniquely Western Australian feel. The result is a behemoth venue that’s bright, light and ultimately inviting.
We spoke to Hull about melding influences from around the globe, the uniqueness of Perth’s alfresco dining scene and sentimentality of the old Subiaco Markets site.
What was the vision behind Subi Continental?
I really wanted to do a bistro but in a very Australian, contemporary sense. The markets used to be a bit of the heart of Subiaco, but they were left abandoned for a long time. I could see the space as a classic village meeting spot, a tavern meets bistro, very much of European descent. It takes inspiration from European all-day bistros but with a modern sensibility. We’ve got a really lovely alfresco area, a classic banquette dining area and a private dining room. But being a tavern, you can come in any time and have a drink, have a glass of wine or a bite to eat.
The space itself is visually impressive – special mentions go to the sandstone-fronted bar. Where did you find inspiration for the look?
There were a couple of places in New York that I really loved, that were sort of that village meeting spot. In Australia, places like Cumulus Inc. in Melbourne, which is a brilliant modern Australian bistro that you can go to morning, noon or night and have a coffee, a glass of wine or a full meal. You can visit for a business meeting or with friends, and it just transforms really well. I wanted to ensure the venue represented Western Australia: we have a very outdoors mindset I think in Perth. We have plenty of sunshine and I think that really helps define a lighter and brighter style of dining over here, where we don’t need to be so moody or internal or underground, if you like.
Subi Continental has joined a list of recently opened dining venues in the area that have contributed to something of a renaissance for Subiaco’s hospitality scene. Why now?
I think it was just a matter of time. Subiaco had that very strong food and drink history through the 80s and 90s, it was a real destination. A few things contributed to a decline, but it’s a prime suburb with an amazing and very established high street. It has all the makings of a great inner-city suburb, so I think it was just a matter of time.
The menu has such a range of culinary influences, how did you and the kitchen team bring that together?
It’s a modern bistro menu, taking some European classics and giving them a contemporary Australian feel. It’s a collaborative team effort. I work with a really talented team. I gave a bit of direction and framework and left it up to them to develop it. Our head chef Marcello Segalina came to us after two years working at Jetty Bar and Eats, and he’s well suited to the opportunity. He brings a very contemporary, modern outlook.
Let’s talk about the menu. What would you recommend for a starter?
The pickled mussel toast, which is served on fried bread with saffron mayo is absolutely delicious and is great to get the palate going. Or the house Gildas: it’s just a single bite, a beautiful olive, some anchovy and guindilla peppers on a skewer.
Where would you steer us with mains, then?
The confit duck is beautiful, or one of the pastas. We work with local maker Sal’s Pasta for fresh pasta. Before you even get to mains though, it’s worth adding a little seafood selection from the raw bar: everyday we have fresh oysters and a selection of seafood and you can get a plate for two. That’s something that I think is quite special.
And if I wanted to come in, but I don’t eat meat?
We’re working with some amazing lion’s mane mushrooms from The Mushroom Guys. They’re almost like abalone or a chicken breast, the texture is amazing. We marinate and grill them, and it’s something quite unique for a lot of people. Even though it is just a mushroom, it’s not like a mushroom you’ve ever tried before and it’s quite a departure from what you’d expect from a vegetarian mushroom dish.
And something sweet to finish?
Little baked-to-order madeleines with lemon curd. Beautiful and buttery, crisp on the outside and still warm because they’re baked to order. That’s a credit to the kitchen to be able to do that, and they’re a really special and classic little French number to finish on.