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Two of Perth’s finest have joined forces to create a new dining experience in Wembley, as David Pike reports.

THE life of restaurants and cafes in Perth seems to depend primarily on two factors: a point of difference providing certain continuity – icon establishments such as Friends, Altos and The Witches Cauldron, for example; and the quality of the chef and the food they present – the Loose Box, for example.

With that in mind I recently dined at Bouchon Bistro on Cambridge Street in Wembley. In recent years this site has undergone at least three make overs, with mixed success.

Bouchon Bistro under the front-of-house direction of Phillippe Kordics, who previously worked at The Critereon, Observation City and Pierre’s, has secured the services of Gwenael Lesle, who comes to the role after several years with Clyde Bevan at Friends Restaurant.

The restaurant, which has been open since mid August, is already gaining a healthy reputation and has quite a bit of repeat business, Phillip says.

“We have not opened the doors with ceremony and fanfare, preferring to let the quality of the food and service encourage people to dine with us,” he says.

My luncheon at Bouchon Bistro proved to be a very relaxing experience, starting with an aperitif at the bar towards the back of the restaurant before moving through into the main floor.

We opted for a couple of starters to share – chicken liver parfait with strawberries cooked in balsamic vinegar and Sechuan pepper ($10) and the pig’s cheek terrine with slowly cooked red cabbage and Xeres vinaigrette ($11) – while we revisited the menu for main meals and the wine list. The terrine, in particular, was a delight.

The starters on the menu range from $10 to $14, and you won’t find yourself looking under the garnish to find the dish; the serves are well portioned.

The two dishes we tucked into were flavoursome and it was a welcoming treat to find chef moving outside the norm.

The wine list at Bouchon is compact, giving you a choice of wines that lend themselves to matching with the style of food on offer. Prices range from $22 for Chateau Tahbilk Marsanne through to $36 for Langmeil Shiraz, with several wines available by the glass.

Phillip also has a few interesting wines hidden away – or at least not on the wine list – and it may pay to ask what back vintages and limited release wine he has available.

For our main course we selected the Langmeil Shiraz.

Main courses lend themselves towards traditional regional French peasant cuisine and range in price from $22 to $24.

While traditional duck confit with potato, shallots and proscuitto, the pan-fried rib eye with a burgundy sauce finished with blackcurrant liquor, or the fillet of salmon served with a pesto of white beans and chorizo were very tempting, it was the lure of real peasant food that reeled me in.

I decided on boned pig’s trotter, which was wrapped in pancetta and served on a bed of braised lentils ($20). This was a pure delight, and welcome change. The other dish to catch our eye was the braised lamb shoulder served with eggplant, chickpeas, lemon and tomato coulis ($21). The lamb was very tender, ample in size and had plenty of appealing flavours.

Bouchon Bistro is a welcome addition to the dining scene in Perth, purely and simply because of the quality coming from the kitchen and professional attitude to front-of-house management.

Parking can be a bit of a problem as the bistro is located just opposite the Wembley Hotel. But if you ring to book they’ll remind you that parking is available out back.

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