Last month I joined some of my fellow food bloggers at the Perth Night Food Safari, an event put on by the Publican Group Australia, which operates several hospitality venues around Perth – The George, The Aviary and Wolf Lane in the CBD, The Bryneleigh in Nedlands, plus a swag of venues in Melbourne. It was a clear winter’s night in the city, perfect progressive dining weather. How often have we joked, fondly patting our food baby bellies, about taking a brisk walk around the block between courses?
Our host for the event was Telina Menzies, Executive Chef of the Publican Group. Heavily tattooed and studded with metal, she looks more rockstar than chef ambassador, but as she spoke, her love for her job and the hospitality industry was compelling. She led us to and from each stop, talked about each venue and told us a little bit about herself. Telina’s from a family of chefs and before her current gig, she worked at the Hyatt Regency Perth, Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre and did a stint in London which included cooking for the Royal family and Richard Branson and catering prestigious events such as the Chelsea Flower Show. Upon her return to Perth in 2010, Telina began working with the Publican Group as Head Chef for The George.
After kicking off the safari with Moët champagne by the crackling fire at The George, we made our way to The Bird Cage at The Aviary at the edge of the Murray Street mall, where glasses of Cloudy Bay Sparkling Pelorus awaited. We met Head chef Luke Firth, who creates Asian-inspired modern Australian dishes designed for sharing, featuring seasonal Western Australian produce. We gathered in the Lounge Bar where we were each presented with a party plate of canapes: chilli salted cuttlefish served on yellow curry sauce and sprinkled with Szechuan salt and pepper; a juicy steamed chicken and chive dumpling; and 5-spiced lamb cutlet with chilli caramel.
For another look at The Aviary in daylight, see my post from last year: Lazy Sundays at The Aviary – Bird Cage Restaurant.
It was then back up the West End to The George for our main course. It’s a stylish and sophisticated space, complete with patterned wallpaper, chandelier and marble-topped bar, with leather ottomans in cosy corners to relax with friends for after work drinks.
There were two main courses to choose from, both featuring winter produce, garnished with shaved fresh Manjimup truffle. For the carnivores: love me tender slow braised beef short ribs that melted in the mouth and sous vide beef fillet with celeriac-forest mushroom textures.
The vegetarian main course was cauliflower custard with smoked baby onions and turnip.
On the side, we had house-baked bread with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar; iceberg lettuce with sliced radish; autumn greens with almonds, butter and pecorino; and endive and shaved fennel salad with citrus segments and shallot.
Our final stop was Wolf Lane, a laneway cocktail bar where dessert came in the form of frozen chocolate martinis and animal print (safari – get it?) white chocolate mud cakes to take home.
Here at night, it’s like being in the dingy den of a recluse who prefers to sit in the dark, surrounded by the clutter of all his possessions – which include a well-stocked liquor cabinet. But it’s snug like my favourite pair of ugg boots. I’ve been to Wolf Lane for drinks with mates a few times; while there’s a cocktail menu, Head Mixologist Ricardo and his team are always happy to create a drink to your liking – just have a chat and let them know what you feel like. I love bars like this that make even non-booze drinkers feel welcome and well looked after with delicious, reasonably priced mocktails. Bar snacks and share plates are available too.
Some of those plush vintage armchairs swallow you up when you sit in them, so hang on to that drink as you’re sinking! It was a shame it was a school night; it would’ve been easy to keep chatting all night until they kicked us out. Oh, to be 19 again.
While this was a blogger event and a daytime safari has been held previously for media, the Publican Group should seriously consider making safari-style events available to regular punters. It was a fabulous progressive dinner and great way to sample each of the venues. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from organising your own.
TFP attended the Perth Night Food Safari as a guest of the Publican Group Australia.
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1/140 William Street (Corner Murray Street Mall), Perth
Located directly above Perth Underground train station – entry via William Street (take the escalator)
Telephone: (08) 9226 0259
Sunday to Thursday 11am to late
Friday and Saturday 11am to 2am
216 St Georges Tce, Perth
Telephone: (08) 6161 6662
Monday to Friday 7am to late
Saturday 5pm to late
Bookings for high tea are essential:
Saturday high tea 1pm to 4pm
Sunday high tea 1pm to 5pm
It’s worth mentioning that The George and The Aviary each have a dress code and as such won’t suit everyone. At The George, no sneakers, thongs, sports shoes, jerseys, or backpacks are allowed. The Aviary’s dress code requests smart neat casual dress at all times (see details).
Rear Murray Street Perth
(Lane access from Murray or King Street)
Telephone: (08) 9322 4671
Wednesday to Saturday 4pm to 12 midnight
Sunday 2pm to 10pm