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Service ... I’ll give you the tipIT has been quite a year in the Perth restaurant scene with a veritable feast of comings and goings, gongs and brickbats.

For some it was the year of the quickie, especially the mysterious Il Bacaro at the City Hotel. It seemed that, just as Perth foodies began talking about the place, it vanished into the Bermuda Triangle of defunct restaurants.

The year began with the opening of several minimalist restaurants, minimalist in name at least.

Firstly, the Clements open C Restaurant in January at the old and tired Highlight 33. Within a few short months it had established a very sound reputation, which culminated in a number of awards during the year. Without doubt they have managed to transform a difficult position into a winning formula. I visited C again last week for lunch and the food and service were very good. The new booths are a good innovation, adding a relaxed feel. Although the wine list could do with some work, overall there is just something about C that I really like.

While there are too many new restaurant openings for me to mention, those that really caught my attention this year included Bacco on Marine Parade in Fremantle. I have eaten here a few times and have never been disappointed with traditional Italian fare and a number of very good Italian wines.

Linda Mead opened LINq amid much fanfare in the latter part of the year, which quickly became a fashionable place to entertain and be entertained. Tony Barlow added the B restaurant to his fashion collection, while David Bianci spruced up Ord Street and added Savoia to the restaurant scene.

For those of you who haven’t been, Cafe Bocca in Shafto Lane is one of the year’s highlights in the CBD. Bocca and Ven Visto have added much-needed spunk to that western end of the city centre.

Elements restaurant, tucked away under Exchange Plaza, is doing some very good things in another very difficult location.

The Must Wine Bar opened in Mt Lawley, while the Subiaco Wine Room closed, the latter now under the direction of the Monaghan family (Subiaco Hotel) and is called the Llama Bar. Also in Subiaco is Jaques on Hay Street, which is fast gaining a reputation as a quality BYO restaurant.

Another beachside restaurant was added to the Perth beach line-up when Oceanus opened in the early part of this year.

One exciting restaurant that has left its opening to this festive season is Geoff Haywood’s Monza in Oxford Street Leederville. I haven’t yet eaten here but am looking forward to seeing what is on offer.

Many of the established eating-houses have continued to impress. Jacksons Restaurant in Mt Lawley remains one of the leading restaurants in Perth. Frasers, Friends and Altos don’t seem to have wavered in their ability to attract a crowd. Altos, together with Jacksons, would get the nod as my favourite places to have dined this year.

One of the most frustrating concerns with the restaurant culture in Perth is the lack of quality service. We simply don’t seem to be able to provide a culture that views waiting staff as professionals. With the exception of establishments such as Altos and Friends, there is no consistency to the value placed on staff training and the professionalism that should be instilled in staff. Far too often restaurants can deliver quality food but provide sub-standard service. If a tipping mindset needs to be formally introduced to give an incentive for sloppy service to disappear then I for one am very much in favour of dipping into my pocket of an extra 10 per cent or so.

My other frustrations revolve around the lack of alfresco dining and the inflexibility of the liquor licensing division. We should embrace the European culture that enables you to sit and have a glass of wine without having to order a meal. I understand many of the pros and cons but remain frustrated all the same.

For the record, my favourite place to dine is Star Bistro in Claremont. I have enjoyed each meal I have had there over the last part of the year and have always been impressed with the service.

Drive safely over Christmas, and don’t drink and drive.

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