Varnish is very polished (’scuse the pun) and in the few short years since our wowserish political betters relented and let adults drink in small bars, it has stood as a benchmark for just about every other bar that has followed it.
It’s a toss-up as to whether Varnish belongs in the Best Bar or Best Casual Dining categories, because while its drinks game is one of the finest in town, its food has been nothing short of ground-breaking over the years.
When you enter the subterranean basement lair in King Street, you are surrounded by warm woody tones, raw brick and comfortable seating. You can chow down on dishes as eclectic as beef tendon crisps with creole spice, wagyu fat-washed potatoes, bone marrow with pecorino crumb and pickles or, for those with a less meaty bent, Jerusalem artichokes with roasted beetroot and rye grains.
The tendon crisps, by the way, are among the best, crunchy, puffed-up beer snacks we’ve eaten.
Varnish is ostensibly a brown spirits bar specialising in American whiskeys and ryes and when it comes to classic drinks – sazerac, old fashioned, Manhattan, whiskey sour – there are few bars in the city which make them with such precision and great ingredients. While you’re there try the whisky and bacon flight and give bar mascot Justin Beaver a pat on the head.
Varnish is one of Perth’s finest bars.