With a $12-million revamp and a gun team at the helm, The Claremont Hotel is starting 2023 as the pub to beat. But how best to enjoy it? Its chef and somm gave us the rundown on where to start.
The summer’s biggest opening? It has to be The Claremont Hotel. That’s on capacity alone, with the western suburbs watering hole licensed for 1600, and a kitchen equipped to feed more than a night. But this isn’t just about size. It’s down to a homegrown chef, Telina Menzies, who has made her mark around the country, coming home and discovering established and emerging WA producers then putting them front and centre on the menu.
Her role as executive chef is complemented by the work of head chef Nick Trezise and sommelier Matt Skinner. The result is an appealing wine list that trades in classics as well as newcomers, and a menu where pub staples like chicken parmi are made with free-range chook, local ham and mozzarella from La Delizia Latticini. Where the shared options extend to an epic seafood platter featuring Shark Bay prawns, Albany oysters, scallops on the half shell and cured Akoya and dessert in the dining room might come in the form of a pitch-perfect lemon tart.
With impressive dishes, a seamless online ordering system and a killer drinks program, is this an elevated pub experience? Or something else entirely? We caught up with Menzies and Matt Skinner to help us delve deeper into the narrative.
Telina, you’ve just spent a good stretch of time in your hometown of Perth after a long stint away – what are your impressions of the food scene here from your latest visit?
The food scene is booming in the West; I am really impressed with everything I’ve seen. There are so many great venues and new small bars popping up, and they’re really pushing the boundaries. Hyper-local produce; I’ve seen some really inspiring things coming out of places like Si Paradiso and Casa.
Was there one meal in particular that stood out?
I drove all the way from Inglewood to Ethos in East Fremantle just for the pastrami sandwich! I also took the chef team from The Claremont to Billy Lee’s and Uncle Billy’s a few times, which is a late-night institution for chefs.
Let’s turn our attention to the Claremont Hotel. You open new venues all the time, what was different or unique about this one?
I was born and bred in WA, and worked here for a large part of my early career. Coming back for such a significant project as a more mature chef was really important to me. It’s such a defining project for us in Perth, and it’s a special pub with lots of memories for so many people.
How did you approach the “getting-to-know-you” phase with WA suppliers and producers?
Never underestimate the power of social media. But I’m still very well connected to many amazing WA chefs, like Melissa Palinkas and Stuart Laws, so it was quite easy. WA has some of the most incredible ingredients, so I’m stoked to do a project like this here where I can use the best in the West. I’ve met some great people along the way too.
Any standout producers that you’d consider using outside of WA?
Leeuwin Coast Akoya – it is such a unique product, I’m excited to showcase it in Melbourne.
The online ordering system is impressive, too. In a labour-starved industry, it seems smart. What are your views, and how is it working?
We love the online ordering system – in terms of the Claremont Hotel, you can still order at the bar if you want to and there are parts of the pub where you can get table service. But I think “Order at Table” allows you to focus more on your family and friends who you’re there with, and it frees up our team members on the floor to spend more time on the more meaningful or helpful customer interactions.
How does it change the operational flow in the kitchen, if at all?
People eat with their eyes first, so the visual online menus encourage people to be more adventurous. People might have come in thinking of a classic schnitzel, but then they see something else on the menu that they think looks amazing, so they give it a go. Our customers order much more widely from the menu when we use the online system.
Back to the menu – the bush chook roll – is this a dish you knew would really take off?
I hoped and dreamed that it would go large, and it really has. I had a vision for making the most gangster chicken roll – with a big side of gravy that you can dip it in, or pour it over your chips. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the bush chook roll take off.
With a few weeks of data behind you, have you seen any particular patterns emerge? There’s oysters, octopus, prawns, taramasalata and squid on the snacks section, and an epic seafood platter – are we as seafood obsessed here in WA as people say?
Absolutely. We’re selling a lot of seafood and a lot of steak. Everything is selling really well, which reflects the time and effort we put into understanding the area and demographic. We’re a pub, so ultimately it is about doing the classics really, really well.
Finally, you’ve written a menu that’s put simply, very damn smart for a pub. You’ve successfully launched it to rave reviews – what’s the plan going forward?
Watch this space. Now that we’re open, we’ll be looking to do regular events and dinners to see where we can take the hotel next. Chef Nick Trezise is leading the kitchen now, he’s Perth born and bred so the Claremont is in great hands. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he brings to the table next.
Over to you Matt, and the wine list. There’s such a strong representation of local vineyards and makers – was this important to you?
Keeping the Claremont Hotel wine list locally focussed was incredibly important to us. It was also a really enjoyable list to write given the depth of both established and next-generation producers – plus the incredible regional diversity from the Great Southern all the way up to the Swan Valley. We took this a step further by including a quarterly “Local Producers We Love” feature at the front of the list, which through a cross section of wines by the glass, shows the true diversity of some of the state’s best producers.
The Claremont Hotel, 1 Bay View Terrace, Claremont. theclaremont.com.au