Can one restaurant save the world? Hyper-local New Normal is giving it a go, charting a sustainable path that aims to reduce waste and the distance produce travels to plate.
While Perth shoppers struggle of late to give up their supermarket plastic bags, chef Vargas and his team can often be found foraging for citrus in Subiaco, warrigal greens from Salter Point or seaweed on the Cottesloe shoreline.
They may sermonise a little about their enviro-credentials when reading out specials but there’s no questioning their dedication to the planet and the quality of the food.
Fudgy, dark-crusted rye sourdough and house-cultured butter is a great start.
Juicy, thick tendrils of soft Fremantle octopus touched by woodfire, paired with silky parsnip and jewel-green salsa verde is a cracker. So, too are heirloom carrots with earthy creamy chickpeas and coriander.
Menu decisions are made daily, based on what is good from the farm or the market. The very open kitchen has a prominent wood-fired hearth, which produces most of its dishes, including roasted celeriac and truffle, or pork tenderloin with crackling that is brittle and puffy like a thin sheet of honeycomb. Blue cheese with charred bread and a clear, ruby- red quince jelly is a fitting end to your feast.
All this in the centre of bustling, inner-city Subiaco, which after years in the doldrums is regaining the vibrancy, colour and cuisine it was once famous for. The restaurant also houses one of Perth’s best- kept secrets – a small but stunning rooftop bar, where you can kick back – especially in summer – and enjoy New Normal’s splendid cocktails.