As its name suggests, Habitué is where one goes not just for clever, precision cooking and a good time, but often. On the evening of our review, a roaring fire was hissing and crackling in the hearth of Habitué’s 1920s renovated cottage in uber-cool North Fremantle and the local fans – habitués if you will – were out in force.

The front-of-house crew is among the smartest in Perth, and led by a team of mature gents from Spain and Germany. Chef-owner Gary Bennett has always been one of the city’s most talented chefs – mention his former gaff, Barque, to in-the-know foodies and they’ll roll their eyes in mock pleasure and emit low crooning sounds – and he’s still playing the hits at Habitué. His food is playful and casual yet seriously executed. It’s clear Bennett is a journeyman chef who can turn his hand, successfully, to any style.

The menu sports dishes with roots in Italy, the Middle East, Thailand and in genres such as American steakhouse, French bistro and Aussie Sunday roast.

Pork cigars wrapped in super- crisp spring roll casing are richer than Gina. The moist confit pork is accompanied by a whisky caramel dipping sauce. Fried cauliflower is Perth’s veg de jour, but don’t let that put you off ordering Habitué’s fried version, rolled in earthy, fragrant cumin and garnished with almond cream and dates. It’s a show-stopper.

Lemongrass chicken harks back to the Barque days when powerful Asian flavours and textures ruled the menu. Generous cuts of bird are charred to perfection and plated with a sticky, sweet and tangy pool of oyster sauce, lemongrass, turmeric and kaffir lime.

The wine list straddles well-priced favourites and some off-piste titles to give wine boffins something to look forward to. Habitué has a bar licence, so a drink in the shady, nicely shabby courtyard is par for the course for many.