Habitué is a place to make a habit out of visiting for good food, good times and a side of jazz.
This Freo funkster is like the jazz musicians who often play front of house here: eclectic, rambling and fun to hang out with. In summer the dappled tree-fringed courtyard is the spot to chill – in winter there’s a roaring fire.
Ultimately, though, you come for Gary Bennett’s contemporary Australian menu. Sharing is the go: confit pork cradled in thin crunchy pastry “cigars” with a whiskey caramel dipping sauce have become a classic, and there’s dips and olives for those who want to graze.
Bennett’s wood-fired treatment of both meat and vegetables is usually bang-on; baby heirloom carrots with yoghurt, honeyed farro and toasted pepitas is a remarkable dish, as is pink snapper with a delicate orange, fennel and radish salad. And the kitchen is adept at nose-to-tail cooking – turning lamb shoulder into a fragrant, pull-apart jumble, or using lamb necks for a Moroccan-spiced masterpiece.
Baby heirloom carrots with yoghurt, honeyed farro and toasted pepitas is a remarkable dish, as is pink snapper with a delicate orange, fennel and radish salad.
There’s the occasional discordant note – stock boxes dot the shabby-chic space, and sometimes the wood heat is applied too liberally – but the relaxed, attentive service compensates.
For dessert, a brulée veers closer to a Catalan custard, scented with orange and cardamom, while a trio of sorbets is regularly inventive (think white grapefruit, guava or blood plum) and crowned with delicate toffee shards.