Perth’s newest and long-awaited high-end steakhouse, 6Head, has finally opened at Elizabeth Quay, with Shane Middleton, formerly of Fleur and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, teaming up with Sean Hall, the venue’s head of culinary. We sat down with the pair to talk bringing the Sydney heavyhitter to Perth, raw seafood bars and steak to write home about.
6Head, the long-anticipated high-end bar and grill at the base of Elizabeth Quay’s Chevron building, is arguably one of Perth’s highest-profile openings this year. The flagship in Sydney’s Seagrass Boutique Hospitality Group, which also counts The Meat & Wine Co, Hunter & Barrel and Ribs & Burgers among its brands, the new opening has landed Shane Middleton as opening chef, a familiar face from his roles at Fleur, Clarke’s of North Beach and the QT Hotel. His CV also includes three years at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, across London and Melbourne.
The WA Good Food Guide spoke with Middleton and Sean Hall, Seagrass’s head of culinary and 6Head’s executive chef, about what diners should expect from the restaurant and where it fits in the Perth market.
How would you describe 6Head? A high-end steakhouse, or something more?
Sean Hall: We fall within the steakhouse category. Protein is our game, and that’s what we’re strong at, but we want to ensure that seafood plays a big role within our menu. As a chef, I pride myself on working with great producers and showcasing their product.
Shane Middleton: We don’t want to be in competition with Rockpool. We’re here to deliver a beautiful dining experience: elevated dining with elevated food. You can come in for lunch and have a burger, or come in for dinner and have a $370-per-kilo tomahawk; it’s open to everyone. The flavours aren’t over-complicated, the dishes aren’t overly complex. It’s about getting maximum flavour from the produce.
SH: Seasonality is very important, and bringing what the market wants. The next six months are going to be baby steps for us to see how the Perth market adapts to our menu.
The restaurant feels bustling and casual for a relatively high price point. What’s the intended demographic?
SH: Bradley Michael, CEO and founder of Seagrass, had a vision for an environment where people can relax with family and friends, enjoy great food but also celebrate life and occasion. That’s what we strive for. Yes, it’s a beautiful venue, but we want people to come in and feel relaxed.
SM: There’s different clientele coming in and that’s the beauty of it. You don’t just want tables of two, you want to feel the energy from a dining room full of fours, sixes and eights. It wouldn’t matter if you wore a suit and ordered a burger, or came in shorts and ordered a big steak. We want to make every dining experience special and unique.
How did Perth come to be the location for the second 6Head restaurant?
SH: We’ve been in the market for a few years with some of our other brands, and WA has always been one of our strongest regions in terms of guest satisfaction and sales. We were looking for the right venue and when the Chevron opportunity came up, we all said ‘this is a game changer’.
SM: The location is beautiful, we’ve got the Swan River right there. The guys above me thought this is the right time and right location, and I totally agree with them; there isn’t anything like this in Perth. The Meat & Wine Co and Hunter & Barrel serve great meat and great wine, but they have their price point and demographic. We’re at a higher price point but I don’t think anyone should be scared of that. The produce speaks for the price.
It’s my first visit to 6Head, and there’s a lot to choose from. What should I order?
SH: Some dishes are very special to me, the kingfish ceviche was one of the first dishes I developed for 6Head. It shows that we’re not just focused on meat. The wagyu skewers play with your tastebuds, you’ve got burnt chilli and a bit of avruga caviar. The flavours are really bold, it’s not just a one-hit wonder.
SH: In regards to the meat program, we’ve got a selection from grass fed to grain fed. The strip loin is one of my favourites. If you want to go full whack, the Mayura signature tomahawk is something special – it rates in the top three steaks I’ve eaten. The pressed potato is a classic, old-school dish presented very well. Then to finish off, the chocolate delice is something we’ve developed over the last three menus.
SM: I would start with oysters and the Mayura bresaola, which literally melts in your mouth. I really like the Skull Island prawns, the XO butter goes really well with them. The Hokkaido A5 wagyu is great and reasonably priced for a piece of meat like that – there’s nothing that can compare to the Mayura in my opinion. The desserts are all great, and our cheese program is phenomenal.
All of the beef on the menu is currently from interstate. Can we expect to see more local produce?
SM: We’re a 160- to 180-seat restaurant, and 70 per cent of the menu is steak, so volume and consistency are big concerns for us. This first menu is beautiful. We’ve got Mayura Station, Collinson & Co and O’Connor beef. We’re in talks with Margaret River Wagyu, and [Perth-based] Fins Seafood is our seafood supplier.
SH: We’ve had the conversation with Margaret River Wagyu and we’re very excited about that. Unfortunately, it’s quite a lengthy process. They can only do a certain number a month, so we need to take the right steps. We want to showcase it and have fun with it.
SM: We’re supporting local small artisan suppliers such as Cambray Cheese and La Delizia Latticini. And we work closely with the Artisan Bakery, who bake all our bread.
That’s steak, but I believe the raw bar is unique to Perth.
SH: It’s going to be based on dishes that Shane and the team put together. We want to focus on local oysters. Perth is a very hot climate, so having the opportunity to have a few crudos or ceviches is ideal.
SM: Albany rock oysters are coming into season and we’ll be putting them on the menu. The Appellation oysters are phenomenal, sourced from the best estuaries along the Australian coastline.
SH: WA has some of the best seafood in Australia, if not the world, so we’ve included the raw fish bar to showcase it. You’ve got beautiful blue marron, and we want to use rainbow trout and the Mandurah blue swimmer crab. It’s about adapting to drive locals to come and enjoy our product. At the end of the day, it’s all about the guest experience.
The wine and cocktail lists are extensive. Were they developed exclusively for Perth?
SH: We wanted to give our sommeliers the opportunity to focus on putting the right criteria together for the market, and they’ve done a phenomenal job. The wine list is big, but it caters for a bit of everything. It’s all levels and varieties, from local to international. You’ve got the opportunity to really home in and decide what you want.
SM: The guys have been working hard to nail the cocktail menu, and It’s hard because we’re not a bar. You can get away with serving clarified cocktails in a bar, but we serve those here as well. We want to experiment and be different from other restaurants.
Shane, it’s been a long time since you were announced as the chef here and opening the doors, how has the journey to 6Head been for you?
SM: It’s been good. It’s been six months in the making since I left Fleur. I spent a month in Sydney, so I had time to understand how the restaurant runs, the ethos and to see the beast that Sydney 6Head is.
SH: Shane’s very talented and ambitious, I’m extremely happy to have him at the helm in Perth. To have somebody of that calibre on the ground is satisfying, but also takes the pressure off me. He knows the market very well and we’ve spent a lot of time collaborating over the last six months. The feedback we get over the next three to six months will give us the opportunity to focus on a core menu for WA.
Has it been difficult building a new team in the current climate?
SM: Staffing is tough, not just here but across Australia. You’re constantly hiring, there’s always people dropping off but that’s just part of hospitality. Everyone’s training, learning their roles and we’re learning about them as well. We’re fine tuning and tweaking to make it run like clockwork.
SM: I’ve got 25 in the kitchen. I’ve never managed anything that big, but I have worked in kitchens that size. We had 50 chefs in the brigade at Dinner. It’s about trying to build relationships with your team to know who they are, their strengths and weaknesses. I’m not physically on the line all the time, but I’m still in the kitchen. It’s a new challenge I’m excited for.
6Head, Shop 1, Ground Floor, One The Esplanade, Elizabeth Quay, Perth; 6head.com.au/perth-restaurant/; instagram.com/6headaus