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A first birthday bash for one of Perth’s most popular meeting places is a must-do event, according to Julie-anne Sprague, while time seems to be running out for those yet to secure a barrier for one of the Melbourne Cup lunches being held around town.

ANNE-MARIE Banting and Russell Blaikie’s Must Wine Bar is celebrating its first birthday tomorrow (October 25). After an exclusive VIP thanks between 7pm and 9pm the venue will be open to all Must supporters for a birthday bash not to be missed. All the tables and chairs will be taken out of the restaurant, allowing plenty of room for mingling and perhaps a dance. Two DJs have been organised to play some funky French house tunes. Anne-Marie says her vision to have Paris on Beaufort Street has been realised.

“We have a nice space that’s not intrusive. We are really happy with the business and we have a strong following,” she says.

“Jerry Fraser has recently come on board to shuck oysters on Tuesday evenings. It has been very popular. We have the meet the maker dinners and I get to go behind the bar and have a play.

“The corporate side is going well. The private dining room has helped us during the quiet times and it’s getting more and more interest. “That’s because we don’t just tuck people away in a room we select the wines for the lunch and I do a quick wine talk about what we have hand selected.”

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Bien Fine Foods’ co-owner Tai Pham has bought Bien Nguyen’s share in the restaurant. Tai is concentrating on building up more summer trade and is bringing music back to the venue, an aspect that made the former Mezzonine a place to visit on Thursday evenings for the weekly jazz on the rooftop.

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Not so long ago Gusto profiled the shiitake mushroom and its surge into the kitchens of several restaurants. Its popularity has prompted Gala Restaurant’s head chef and owner Hans Lang to write an entire menu dedicated to the Narrogin-grown fresh shiitake mushroom. If you visit Gala this week you’ll catch the tail end of Hans’ White Asparagus and Shiitake Mushroom Special. It’s a separate menu to the a la carte, but with choices such as whiting filled with black rice and shiitake mushrooms or pan-fired medallions of veal fillet with steamed white and green asparagus set on shiitake foam, the decision to eat shiitake is made simple. Hans says the menu has been operating throughout October and has proved popular.

“I would say about 40 per cent of people order from it [the shiitake menu],” he says.

Hans is considering further produce promotions in the coming months, including a Great Southern promotion.

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Xanadu will celebrate its 25th anniversary in style, with The James Morrison Sextet to perform at the Margaret River winery on November 16. There will be plenty of Xanadu wines to indulge in and an array of sumptuous cocktail treats.

If you want to get tickets to the event, which coincides with the final weekend of the Margaret River Wine Region Festival, contact Xanadu wines.

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Melbourne Cup

It’s a little more than a week to Melbourne Cup and if you haven’t booked a ticket to a big event yet you’d better be quick. Gusto has heard the following events will provide plenty of excitement.

Buddha Bar: French champagne and croissants from 11am plus a luncheon to follow. The party continues after the race – $15 gets you a glass of champers and an all-day Buddha buffet.

Oyster Bar at Mead’s: Choose the sit-down three-course menu for $58.50 per person or choose the stand-up cocktail and beverage party for $70pp.

Picknicks: Two-course lunch with beer and wine, prizes and sweepstakes for $39.50pp

The Melbourne: Two-course lunch in the John De Baun Room with big screen and door prizes for $28pp.

Tsunami: Three-course luncheon with sparkling brut on arrival. Prizes, plenty of sushi and a live screening of the race for $45pp.

Fraser’s: Fashion parade, sweepstakes, hat competition, and four-course meal for $70pp.

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