18/07/2006 - 22:00

Experienced trio brings a fresh perspective to Verve

18/07/2006 - 22:00

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Three of Perth’s most seasoned hospitality players have taken over the helm of Verve. Restaurateurs Josephine Mac Fie, Chris Vane and chef Belinda Martin opened the doors at the smartly appointed restaurant and bar at Woodside Plaza last week following

Experienced trio brings a fresh perspective to Verve

Three of Perth’s most seasoned hospitality players have taken over the helm of Verve.

Restaurateurs Josephine Mac Fie, Chris Vane and chef Belinda Martin opened the doors at the smartly appointed restaurant and bar at Woodside Plaza last week following a recent change in ownership.

The trio has signed an eight-year lease for the premises, believing that the west end of Perth – now home to some of the state’s trendiest restaurants – is the place to be.

“The city is becoming a night venue again and West Perth is an important part of that,” Mr Vane says. “Three or four years ago no-one came to this end of the city to eat. And if they did, all that was here was Fast Eddies.”

Ms Mac Fie agreed.

“For a long time you just had these little pockets that were spread around Perth,” she told Gusto. “Now there is a feeling that it is far more concentrated in the city.”

Those counting Verve as a neighbour include chic Indian hotspot 9 Marys, Japanese stalwart Matsuri, The Melbourne Hotel, Bar One and Box Deli.

The new residents are not alone in their faith in the West Perth food scene. The area not only houses the new Woodside building but also almost every major law firm in the city.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the ‘suits’ have taken to Verve in the past. Its savvy lines and extensive wine list made it a place to lunch and to be seen lunching.

And the late night jazz offered an alternative venue for the chic crowd.

Added to this is Verve’s alfresco area, complete with a garden vista lush enough to make punters almost forget they are in the CBD.

These are all areas the trio wants to capitalise on as they see their stewardship of Verve as more of a rebirth than a change in direction.

One thing that is not changing is Ms Martin’s style in the kitchen. The former head chef of Black Tom’s in Subiaco, Ms Martin has immediately injected a sense of energy and vitality to the menu.

A small core set of dishes is complemented by seven or eight daily specials, all of which will change on a regular basis. A strong proponent of local seafood, Ms Martin plans to focus on fresh fish, freshly shucked oysters and also some heartier fare for this time of year.

When asked what her style is in the kitchen, Ms Martin jokes that she always says “if Jo can seat them, I can feed them”.

This adage maybe soon put to the test if Ms Mac Fie’s expectations for the Perth dining scene hold true. Believing that diners’ moods are ever changing, she cites the 1970s as a dining culture ruled by fine dining, hotel-chain style restaurants.

With the 1980s came a new breed of non-hotel restaurants, such as Jessica’s, Matilda Bay, JoJo’s and Pierres. This gave way to the cafe culture of quick service and low prices in the 1990s, which dramatically changed the dining dynamic.

Now, Ms Mac Fie believes there is a return to eating out well.

She says the culture of dining out is getting stronger and the longer lunch is well and truly back.

Mr Vane concurs, suggesting the old-fashioned business deal is coming back.

“This kind of dining is perfect for that,” he says.

“You would be amazed how many deals get done on paper napkins in restaurants.”

With napkins and much more, Verve stands at the ready with seats for 200 at lunch and dinner, and plans to open for breakfast as well. The beautifully appointed bar will be open late each evening except Sunday.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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