Firstly, I must admit to having held a bit of a grudge against Perth for the past twenty years or so. Going to university in Perth in the late-80’s, early-90’s, I could not wait to leave the city and move to somewhere more cosmopolitan. Perth’s lack of sophistication has been an enduring part of all my trips over the years, that is up until the last couple of years. As much as I want to hold onto my prejudice, the bare facts are that it no longer holds true. Perth is a city on the up, not only in terms of money thanks to the (now well-and-truly over) decade-long mining boom, but also in terms of food, drinks, design and a general increase in the quality of the offerings of the best independent business.
Below is a list of the places we enjoyed over a three-day long weekend. By no means is this meant to be an exhaustive guide to Perth. However, it does provides a good starting point and goes a ways to illustrate the dramatic change in the city over the past couple of years. If you have not been to Perth for a couple of years, it may be time to book a flight.
FOOD & DRINKS
Bread in Common [43 Pakenham Street, Fremantle] A quality bakery/kitchen serving breads, coffee and cocktails in a beautifully restored warehouse in the quayside suburb of Fremantle.
City Farm Cafe and produce market [1 City Farm Place, East Perth] Located on the edge of the Perth CBD on the site of a former scrap metal yard, the site has grown to become a Western Australian icon for environmental sustainability and community engagement. The attached cafe is a casual affair with good food and pastries including their famous Breakfast Burger and cold pressed organic smoothies.
The Imp Cafe [863 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park] Tattoos, strong coffee and an interesting take on breakfast staples make The Imp a hit with the locals in this emerging precinct.
Chapels on Whatley [196 Whatley Cresent, Maylands] Wonderful Eurasia cooking complemented by a selection of over 50 teas. Located in up-and-coming Maylands, this is an area to watch with its funky mix of delis/bars/clothing and design stores.
Bistro des Artistes [424 Hay Street, Subiaco] Superb French cooking from owner and chef Alain Fabregues who has been crowned chef of the year four times since opening his first Perth Restaurant The Loose Box in 1979.
Subiaco Hotel [465 Hay Street, Subiaco] Recently refurbished, the ‘Subi’ is popular with partygoers and serves a good selection of beers and cocktails in addition to hosting live bands.
Little Creatures Fremantle Brewery [40 Mews Road, Fremantle] This ever-popular brewery is the place to grab one of their famous Pale Ale’s and a pizza while enjoying the sight of an active brewery or head outside and enjoy the sunshine.
Compendium Design Store [49a High Street, Fremantle] This compact store sells one of the best (edited) selection of magazines I have seen anywhere including Cereal, Monocle, Fantastic Man and Kinfolk. All this in addition to Delfonics pencil cases and a selection of Tintin books and merchandise.
Aspects of Kings Park [Frazer Avenue, West Perth] This design and craft store in the heart of Kings Park is the place to pick up a piece of Australian design. A cut above most souvenir shops, the best of Australian design is on show with all profits going to supporting Kings Park and the Botanic Gardens.
Kings Park Botanic Gardens This is one of the areas you can really see that money has been spent in the city. Comprising a series of wonderful gardens and sweeping views over the Swan River and city, this is one of my favourite parts of Perth.
Fremantle Markets [corner South Terrace and Henderson Streets] Over 150 stalls selling everything from bird whistles to leather goods to freshly roasted coffee.
Walk along the Swan River from the city taking in the brilliance of Laurel Nannup’s aluminium sculpture ‘First contact’ and the smartly curved Elizabeth Quay Bridge.
The Alex Hotel [50 James Street, Perth] Boutique design hotel on the edge of the city.
COMO The Treasury [1 Cathedral Avenue, Perth] Magnificent contemporary hotel, bar and restaurants designed by Kerry Hill Architects.