16/12/2010 - 00:00

Low-key launch for city oasis

16/12/2010 - 00:00


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The newest venture from WA food doyenne Kate Lamont offers a quiet hideaway in the heart of Perth’s CBD. Natalie Gerritsen reports.

Low-key launch for city oasis

KATE Lamont doesn’t see the need to have a grand celebration to open her newest venture, Lamont’s Bishops House, in the centre of Perth.

“It’s not really Lamont’s style,” she says of pomp and circumstance.

Instead, Ms Lamont is happy to open quietly and rely on the loyal clientele she and sister Fiona have built up during the past two decades working on the WA restaurant scene.

Bishop’s House inhabits the former home of Mathew Blagden, the first Anglican bishop of Western Australia, in the historic Bishop’s See precinct on the corner of Spring Street and Mounts Bay Road.

Manicured gardens and winding paths lead the visitor up from the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre to the stately, heritage-listed home, its antiquity further highlighted by the wall of skyscrapers that rise behind it.

The heritage listing meant there were limits on what could be altered at the site, but Ms Lamont says that other than putting in a commercial kitchen, she was happy to let the house be.

“There was no conflict from our point of view, we wanted the house to retain its sense of place and bring life back to it,” she says.

“It has such a stately sense and its so incongruous in our city where everything is new and it’s kind of like this secret hideaway where you can sit on the verandah, overlooking the gardens, eat (and have) delicious wine and food, and you’ve got the crazy city right behind you.”

Bishop’s House opened at the beginning of the month, and is a partnership between Ms Lamont and chef Nathan Le, who has been at the helm of Lamont’s East Perth for the past eight years.

The pair has created three tailor-made menus to fit the three distinct dining experiences they offer – alfresco grazing plates on the verandah, traditional three-course dining for the downstairs restaurant, and a full degustation meal served in one of three private dining rooms upstairs.

Ms Lamont sees the private dining rooms as an important point of difference for the venue, and says the response from the corporate sector has already been strong in the fortnight they’ve been open.

“While many larger companies have boardrooms, many smaller ones don’t, and the opportunity to have a genuinely private space that is exclusively yours is relatively unique in the city,” she says.

The degustation menu combines the best features of the traditional meals and grazing plate offered downstairs, with Ms Lamont saying tapas-style food was a growing trend in the food industry.

“Customers are interested generally in eating healthier food and less of it, but are more interested than ever in flavour. We’ve moved away from entrée, main and dessert as being the only way to eat,” she says.

“We offer that idea, for people to come and sit on the verandah, enjoy a few quick bites or while the afternoon away, or we have the traditional entrée, main and dessert (in the dining rooms).”

Lamont’s has been a mainstay of the WA food scene for more than 20 years, with wineries in Margaret River and the Swan Valley, and a cellar door and tapas bar in Cottesloe.

Ms Lamont attributes the longevity of the family brand to energy, consistency and delivery, saying there is no room for complacency in the hospitality industry.

“You perform or you get out. There’s no middle ground,” Ms Lamont told Gusto.

“We might serve thousands of plates of food every year but the customer only gets one.

“So every single plate of food, every glass of wine we serve is, as it should be, both an enormous challenge and a great pleasure.”

Ms Lamont also believes that her restaurants succeed off the back of the wine the family produces.

“It is our point of difference, as a food business we have a fundamental understanding of the wine business and it means we can put food on the plate that is a genuine companion to the wine,” she says.



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