In a city obsessed with casual, to-share and mod-Oz, Stephen Clarke’s northern beaches fine-diner is a masterful beacon, but not in a fussy silver-cloche way.
Clarke is one of Perth’s more exacting chefs – his cooking is perhaps the most classic in town and yet he delivers dishes with a very modern style, anchored in near-flawless old-school technique. Above all his food is great value, given the labour intensity of cooking, like a fish-of-the-day “sandwich” of King George whiting with airy scallop mousse.
The fish is rolled into a tight tube, sous-vided, lightly pan-fried and paired with vongole and a rich tile of ocean trout, blow-torched and brushed with yuzu butter sauce. Baldivis rabbit could be de-boned and served with tiny plum-pink seared kidneys and a parsley and walnut salad.
Or you might find seared assorted mushrooms with toasted brioche and pepper ice-cream alongside a miniature silken pyramid of porcini panna cotta and crumbled honeycomb. It sounds busy but it’s remarkably harmonious.
Clarke weaves the same ingredients through the menu; the effect is a little like a song list. Theatrical baked honey sponge with Manuka honey ice-cream, honeycomb and caramelised honey foam is stabbed by a deeply ruby gossamer-thin, glistening quince paste shard. The discreet, draped room makes the best of its setting and a tight, interesting wine list and polished friendly service seals the deal.
Clarke’s is one of Western Australia’s finest.