This year I have had the great pleasure to have eaten in lots of great places on my travels but also at home here in Perth so as we approach the Xmas and New Year season full on I thought it was time to give you my top 5 local places to dine for this year!

If you have been following my blog you will know that I do not always choose fine dining options but when looking at all the things that make a good meal then it is the fine dining restaurants that get to make my top 5 list as they tick all the boxes from food, presentation, ambience and service (and you know how much service can be a real issue here in Perth – yes one of my main bug bears in the local restaurant scene!).  Price is another interesting one to consider as we cannot always afford to eat in the most expensive restaurants all the time.  As the festive season is now upon us there is an option to do some fine dining with the one or ones you love and have a true celebration in an atmosphere that offers a wonderful experience for you and those you are dining with.

So the list of the top 5 for me for this year is:

5: Balthazar –  no official website but you can check out pics and other reviews  here at : www.urbanspoon.com/r/338/1370049/restaurant/Perth-CBD/Balthazar-Perthww.menufeast.com.au/info/3198/balthazar/perth/

It is funny that in this day and age a top restaurant like Balthazar does not see the need for its own website, but I have not held that against it in terms of where it ended up on my list of restaurants to go to.  For me this is one of those special occasion dining experiences that really works for a romantic night out with that special someone.  The one thing that really stops this from being further up the list for me is the ridiculous price charged for the wines on the wine list.  Whilst it is extensive and offers some wonderful wines, the costs really are much steeper than any other restaurant I have been too this year and they really need to address this as I for one would really only choose to go here for a really special occasion.  It is hard to find a good wine for under $100 which really is silly in this day and age when a number of the wines are much cheaper in other fine dining places around Perth.

However, the knowledge of the staff and the service as well as the food are worth a visit and I have never once been disappointed when dining here.  Every course has always been presented wonderfully and the tastes fuse together to create a wonderful dining experience.  A real  favourite for me were the duck with beetroot with blue cheese and candied walnuts a combination that worked well and was beautifully presented but there has never been a course that has disappointed so if you can put the wine prices to the side then you will really enjoy this fine dining experience.

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4: NOBU at CROWN Perth www.noburestaurants.com/perth

For a top class Japanese experience then NOBU at CROWN is the place to head to!  From the minute that you step through the door and seat yourself at the bar to be served by the knowledgeable bar staff to the moment you chose to either have a table for you and your guest or opt for the teppanyaki experience you will be in heaven with the delicate tastes on offer.

The restaurant is stylishly appointed, and it overlooks the pool at CROWN so it makes for a lovely view during the day or at night when the area is wonderfully lit.  The staff are attentive without being over bearing which ever option you chose in terms of the food you will not be disappointed.  I just love some of the signature dishes especially the pepper crusted seabass with balsamic teriyaki and the pork belly miso caramel which is simply wonderful.  There really are no faults with this restaurant experience at all and it is one that makes you want to go back again and again to experience the wonderful food of chef Nobu Matsuhisa.

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3: Perugino – www.perugino.com.au/

I really do not need to write about Perugino as you can just flick down to my post from a couple of weeks ago to read a full review of the wonderful dining experience I had at Perugino.  I really just need to reiterate how wonderful it really was and to recommend it highly for a special occasion or just a romantic dinner for 2!

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2: The Butterworth – www.thebutterworth.com.au/

The Butterworth Bar & Kitchen restaurant offers contemporary Australian fare with a focus on the best seasonal ingredients alongside signature meat and classic seafood dishes and is a new kid on the block this year in terms of the Perth dining scene and it has hit the ground running with a  great menu and an amazing, hand picked wine list that never disappoints.  Located on the ground floor of Exchange Plaza I was introduced to this restaurant earlier this year just after it opened and have dined there 3 times since!

The menu is an evolving one and in the past couple of months they have a new Head Chef on board and with seasonal choices there is something on the menu to excite all palettes.  Sitting along side this is the wine list from maitre d’ and  sommelier Simone Oliver who has an incredible knowledge of and has hand picked each and every wine on offer.  Match this with some really exciting new cocktails and just sitting at the bar pre dinner is a wonderful experience in itself.

The food on offer is wonderful and most recently really enjoyed the pork belly, rhubarb, fennel and pear butter an amazing combination and the flavours complemented each other perfectly to create a taste sensation and a great way to begin a meal. The globe artichoke, farro wheat risotto, field mushroom and hazelnut is delicate and bold at the same time and was a real highlight.  This is one restaurant that I highly recommend and would encourage you to head to for a great night out from start to finish.

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1: Jacksons – www.jacksonsrestaurant.com.au/

Jacksons has been one of my favourite restaurants for the past 8 or so years.  I have never had a bad meal and the service, décor and overall experience have always been exceptional.  I was really sad to read last week that Neal Jackson is selling up and closing the doors in a few months – what a loss to the Perth dining scene as I cannot talk more highly of this amazing restaurant.  It was earlier this year that for the first time he stopped doing his stylish and specialised degustation menus (he was the first chef to introduce this style of dining to Perth)  but has now decided that since he is closing his doors that for the last few months he will be re introducing it as so many people have complained about not being able to head there for what really was one of the most sensational dining experiences that you will have!

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The degustation menus were changing with each new season and that promised seasonal treats that were exquisite from the first bite to the last and with the matched wine options it really was a complete night of gastronomical delights from start to finish.  I am waiting with baited breath for the degustation to once again begin and I will be heading back for at least one more memorable evening at Jackson’s before the doors close for the last time.  Of the current menu (before degustation comes back) are the Amelia Park lamb loin & belly, olive crust, beetroot, broken olive sauce which is tender, delightful and mouth watering.  The other dish that I love is the banana choc chip souffle, passionfruit sauce, mango ice cream which defies gravity and is a wonderful way to end a meal.  Neal Jackson has always been famous for his soufflés and he does not disappoint with this one.

That is why Jackson’s is still my favourite place to dine in Perth!