Wills Domain’s Good Food Guide Restaurant Of The Year award in 2018 was clearly no fluke. The inventiveness and originality of chef Seth James’ dishes are almost without parallel in Western Australia. And in the past year chef James and his serious-minded, highly skilled team has further cemented its claim to be one of WA’s, and Australia’s, top kitchens.
The food quietly – as in not being shouty or show-offy – displays a high level of technical skill and virtuosity and yet is likeable and approachable. After all, there are few, if any restaurants, of this calibre which would have the chutzpah (or unabashed confidence) to serve deep fried potato gems as a side dish.
An entrée of butter poached squid is soft and buttery as you might expect. Cleaned squid hoods are briefly frozen and then cut into strips on a meat slicer in to fettuccini sized pieces before being gently poached in a fermented rice butter. The offcuts and trim from the squid is cooked down to form the base for a cream on which the alabaster white strips of squid sat, then the dish is carefully flooded with a pool of ginger tea. Epic, subtle, imaginative and whole animal cooking at its finest.
A starter of “whipped marron” is, dare we say it, fluffy, but it is the jet black potato skins made with dehydrated potato skins blended with ink sacks left over from breaking down squid, that stole the show.
Salt-roasted celeriac in a sukiyaki-style glaze served with shaved sheets of the vegetable draped like a wizard’s sleeve over a base of roasted hazelnut cream, is another of the stunning, imaginative dishes coming from Seth James’ accomplished and disciplined kitchen. These are complex dishes which somehow deliver simple, linear flavours.
But, as we well know, a memorable restaurant experience is more than good food and it is the service standards at Wills which also speak volumes about the leadership and training front of house. Service is quietly efficient; cheerful but not cloyingly in your face about it; informed and thoughtful but without being arch or superior.
Simply, Wills Domain continues to be one of the finest dining experiences in Western Australia and, from our experience, one of the best dining rooms in the country.