Subi is on the up – home again to some of Perth’s best restaurants. LuLu La Delizia was recently named Australia’s number one pasta restaurant and another to add to this list of must-try Subiaco dining spots is New Normal.
The new bar and kitchen, found in the Simon Chugg heritage building, is a place to share grazing plates with friends over some carefully selected local wines. There are long communal tables with vases of native flora, cosy booths draped with art deco style light fittings and high stools at the bar.
Upstairs you’ll find a rooftop terrace. It’s out of action on this wet and wintery night, but sure to be a top spot on a balmy summer’s evening for a cocktail or three.
We score two seats at the bar overlooking the open kitchen, which for us, is like kicking a goal. Chef can’t keep out of a kitchen, even on his night off. I love the theatre of watching the chef’s creating their dishes, carefully plating with tweezers and finishing off with the flames from a blowtorch.
The menu is found on big boards on the walls, which is part of New Normal’s sustainability ethos. The kitchen aims to re-use scraps, keep produce local, use minimal plastics (a big challenge for cling-film-happy chefs) and even cut down on paper usage by using boards for the food and drinks menus.
To start, we choose the ultra-fresh, cured Spanish mackerel ($16), with Bindoon blood orange, green chilli and “cilantro” (coriander), you can tell an American wrote the menu! It melts in the mouth. New York native, Head Chef Charlie Vargas and his Sous Chef, Chris Malone give us some excellent recommendations. These two chefs are both brilliant at their craft. Charlie has previously banged the pans at Frasers, 1907 and Balthazar. Young Chris Malone is one to watch and destined for massive things in the culinary world.
A must try is the charred bone marrow ($16), topped with salsa verde and thickly spread on freshly baked bread. It’s a luscious comfort dish, complimented by a sharp radish and parsley salad, which cuts through the fattiness of the marrow.
We are diving into our second dish when we’re brought the drinks menu boards, the waiter apologising profusely. The rest of the service is outstanding, our waiter giving us backgrounds on our drinks choices and also excellent drink suggestions. It’s a teeny blip, quickly forgiven.
I choose a glass of Marsanne Roussanne from Lillian winery in Pemberton. It’s best described as a subtle, baby Chardonnay. Chef picks a local craft beer from south west Rocky Ridge Brewery. Their signature Pavlova Sour cocktail looks mighty tempting.
Purple, white and green florets of cauliflower ($16) are surprisingly meaty. Roasted in the wood fire with sumac and nigella seeds, this humble vegetable dish is bursting with flavours. The creamy cauliflower puree adds texture, along with the garnish of crisp curry leaves.
Roasted celeriac ($16), drizzled in brown butter and finished with shavings of in-season Manjimup truffles, is another palate pleasing vegie dish.
We drool over each dish that passes us by, from the colourful plates brimming with Pinjarra heirloom carrots to the meaty beef ribeye for two. I’m already mentally booking another table.
Superbly cooked lamb loin ($40) is served with delicious chunks of sunchoke (aka Jerusalem artichoke), fresh crème and native salt bush.
Not quite ready for dessert, we order the pork tenderloin ($35), with roasted pears and parsnip – a great match for pork. I’d earlier spied the tenderloin resting on the kitchen bench and the tasty chunk of meat was as tender and moist as can be.
Switching to something light and sweet, we relish the smoky notes of the Davidson plum marshmallow ($8) It took us back to our childhoods of roasting marshmallows on a campfire. A perfect little dessert for those feeling full, though still wanting to indulge.
Chef and I also shared an exquisitely plated passionfruit parfait ($15) with a basil gel and bahen chocolate soil, again keeping it local. The silky smooth parfait is a winner.
If New Normal is in fact, the new norm for dining in Perth, they have raised the benchmark incredibly high. The kitchen team is top notch, which shines through every delicious and carefully executed dish that they place on the pass. The small but perfectly formed drinks list is interesting and there’s a welcoming buzz around the whole venue.
New Normal is a perfect place for a date night or grazing with friends. This Chef’s Wife is mighty impressed – highly recommended! Chef and I had a wonderful date night there, you couldn’t wipe the smile from my face.
At a glance
■ New Normal
2/23 Rokeby Road
Phone 9381 8652
■ Opening times
Tues to Thurs 4pm till late
Fri Noon till midnight
Sat 4pm till late
value for money 4
■ style – Modern Australian share plates
■ wine – well curated and interesting
list of wines exclusively from South West WA.
■ Head Chef – Charlie Vargas
■ Owners – Darryl Naidu, Justin
Naidu and Dru Daniels
■ feel – classy, with a lively atmosphere
■ wheelchair access – yes
Share $10 – $70
Dessert $8 – $15
■ all in all – a wonderful spot for
breaking bread with friends. The
well cooked dishes are brimming
with massive flavours and technique.