Looking for WA’s best winter vegetarian fare? Look no further.
Whether the grounds are ethical, environmental or health-related, the benefits of reducing the amount of meat we eat can’t be overstated. But separate from any philosophical sensibilities, there’s one more reason to incorporate more vegetables into our diets, and it’s dead simple: plants are delicious.
Thankfully, chefs have caught on, with more cooks in more venues offering so many creative dishes that leave so many sad pumpkin gnocchis and mushroom risottos in the dust. As winter takes hold, we gathered up 10 of our favourite vegetable-led dishes right now, that hit just that little harder than your average.
Heirloom spaghetti squash with chaat masala, Will St
Will Meyrick has the magic touch, the former Longrain chef bringing layers of flavour and fragrance to his Leederville restaurant in the form of curries, noodles, salads and more across an extensive, spice-inflected menu. To go with it, there are enough plant-based dishes to build a banquet around, be it betel leaves topped with watermelon, spicy som dtum or a seasonal special of heirloom spaghetti squash, its strands mingling with chickpeas and flavours of tamarind, mustard seeds and mint chutney.
228 Carr Place, Leederville; willstreetperth.com
Raw radish with fresh quark and pepitas, and the mushroom rotolo, Coogee Common
The extensive vegetable plot drives a lot of the menu at Coogee Common. Case in point: an inspired plate of heirloom radish varieties, sliced thin, dressed heavily, then topped with house-made quark and crisped pepitas. But the kitchen’s prowess with with plants extends to larger dishes such as a stunning mushroom and cottage cheese rotolo, packing deep flavour into two rounds of pasta finished under the grill then plated with fresh greens. Win.
371 Cockburn Road, Coogee; coogeecommon.com.au
Puy lentils and a hunk of seasonal roasted veg, White Star Hotel
These guys know their way around vegetables. Just ask any of the locals who’ve taken out first prize in the veg raffle at this renovated and refreshed Albany local. In the past, the kitchen has made the most of its links to stellar bakery Bred Co to turn out epic ribolitta, but autumn and winter has seen a simple dish of braised Puy lentils topped with a big hunk of roasted seasonal vegetables – beautiful skin-on pumpkin, say – take centre stage. Sourced from local farmers? You bet.
72 Stirling Terrace, Albany; whitestarhotel.com.au
Soy and spicy miso ramen, Tosaka
Tosaka has made waves (and caused foot-traffic jams) on William Street thanks to its creamy, foamy tori paitan ramen based on a rich chicken broth. But keep an eye on its specials for the vegetarian spin, made on a soy-milk base with spicy miso bringing depth and umami. That’s not the only veggie ramen, either, so be sure to make return visits.
Shop 2, 305 William Street, Northbridge; instagram.com/tosakaramen
Mushroom parfait and potato bread, Bertie
Anthony Yuill is on the pans at Bertie, Perth’s latest and greatest wine bar over in Bassendean. The menu taps Yuill’s home country (he’s English) and its surrounds with the likes of a killer Scotch egg, and a Welsh rarebit that’s rammed with flavour, but it’s the mushroom parfait that’s winning hearts – vegetarian or not. A mix of shiitake and chestnut mushrooms are cooked down in a buttery shallot reduction infused with mirin, then puréed and served with soft house potato bread, toasted just the right amount. Add a generous wine list, and no wonder the 6054 postcode is buzzing.
77 Old Perth Road, Bassendean; instagram.com/bertie_bassendean
The vegan menu, Millbrook
It’s the heirloom vegetable garden that steals the show at Millbrook, with Guy Jeffreys (Instagram handle @veg_guy) dedicating most of his attention to what’s growing, and proudly pushing the mantra “we don’t buy vegetables”. All of which makes opting for the vegan or vegetarian menu about the safest bet around. Come in early winter, and you’re looking at turnips and radishes with hummus, broccolini with paprika sauce, baked beans served with young winter leaves and sage oil, and pickles from the garden, and that’s just for starters. Main course might integrate pumpkin, beetroot and Jerusalem artichoke with nightshades, while citrus from the fruit trees find their way into dessert. Then there’s the lakeside setting. Don’t walk, run.
Old Chestnut Lane, Jarrahdale; millbrook.wine
Gado-gado, Suku Fremantle
Tiny but mighty Suku continues to win over hearts and palates since reopening at FOMO in Freo, with the nasi Bali and the rendang headlining a menu propped up by rotating specials. But the gado-gado is a fixture for good reason, too, the classic peanut salad with egg (or not, if you order it vegan), tofu, bean sprouts and potato served alongside Suku’s own fiery sambal and rice crisps. Don’t skip it.
10 William Street, Fremantle; sukufreo.com
Charred cabbage with curry butter, Nextdoor
Nextdoor has undergone something of a revolution recently, with a fresh offering under new chef in Elliot Sawiris. The venue may still have a butchery and grilled-meat focus, but the vegetable-led plates are proving just as much of a draw. Skip the steak and order the charred cabbage instead, its leaves gnarled and handsome, its crevices filled with intense curry butter. Add the fried curry leaves and the sprinkle of nigella seeds over the top and this is one vegetable plate that cries out to be given the spotlight.
79 Angelo Street, South Perth; nextdoor79.com.au
Miso-glazed pumpkin with miso hummus and crisp kale, HQ Bar + Kitchen
A favourite of the visiting WAGFG interstate reviewing team, who use Quay as their home base during trips to Perth. The partnership puts them close to the action with hotel’s CBD location and the views from the co-working space making a fine backdrop to write-ups after lunch in town. What’s more, HQ brings a little home comfort when so many meals out are taking their toll. Is there a more virtuous plate than chef Jamie Lee’s miso-glazed pumpkin a kale dish on offer upstairs, given crunch and interest aplenty with pine nuts and puffed rice? Paired with the view over Elizabeth Quay, it’s hard to beat.
Quay Perth, Rooftop, 18 The Esplanade, Perth; quayperth.com
Wood-fired cauliflower, Bib & Tucker
Having clocked 10 years at North Freo institution Bib & Tucker, chef Scott Bridger sure knows his way around a wood-fired oven. Need proof? Look no further than the cauliflower, roasted hard until charred around the edges, served swimming in brown butter flavoured with Aleppo pepper, then capped off with florets of pickled Romanesco, fried curry leaves and smoked almonds, it’s the kind of small plate that slots in as the main event very, very easily. Just be sure to add a signature bombe Alaska for dessert. That’s plant-based, right?
8 Leighton Beach Boulevard, North Fremantle; bibandtucker.net.au