There’s a long history of British and French colonial aspirations in WA’s southern port town of Albany. And there are echoes of that colourful past at Liberte – a mash-up of Parisian bohemia and colonial Vietnamese food and aesthetics.
Liberte’s fetching interiors are kitted out with puffy sofas, antique chairs, period posters on the walls, objet d’art, knick-knacks and old cafe tables. The result is a comfortable, warming bar and dining room. Its thrown-together decor is cool — Melbourne cool. San-Francisco cool. Shoreditch cool.
All this scruffy style is backed up by terrific food.
Crispy fish bao was fluffy and light and stuffed with deep-fried fish, fennel slaw, tom yum mayo, grated egg yolk and fried garlic. Sounds like a train crash, right? Not on your Nellie.
Crispy pork belly must be a crowd pleaser. The same dish was on the menu for as long as we can remember And why not. They’ve nailed the combination of juicy, buttery-soft belly meat and a crackling so hard a cat couldn’t scratch it. A splodge of red plum sauce on the side was exactly right for the meat — sour, citrussy, chilli flavours. To top it off: a large mound of apple and Brussels sprouts remoulade.
Banh xeo is a crispy crepe with pork, mushroom and bean sprouts served with cos lettuce — to be used as a wrap for the other ingredients — herbs and a finger lime nuoc cham. The balance of Thai/Vietnamese flavours was on point.
The cocktail program at Liberte is taken very seriously and their drinks are inventive and well balanced. The wine list is a paean to local producers with some “orange” and low intervention styles of wine for the more brave-hearted.
Is Liberte worth the drive? You bet. Go for a drink and dinner and stay a day or two to look around and explore Albany and the beautiful Great Southern region.