Santini Bar & Grill, Perth

We arrived… And I was relieved I'd worn a frock. The dress code is smart-casual-fun (with a side of very cool).

We chose here because…It was named new restaurant of the year at the 2018 WA Good Food Guide Awards. Judges described the room as "runway ready . . . sleek, moody and very adult".

Our first impression was…The waitstaff might be actual models.

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We started with…Fat tentacles of wood-grilled octopus with thick-cut green peppers, a blob of black garlic puree and a scatter of pancetta. Smoky and sweet, salty and seriously delicious.

Squid ink risotto, Santini Bar & Grill, Perth. Photo / Kim Knight
Squid ink risotto, Santini Bar & Grill, Perth. Photo / Kim Knight

The highlight was…Squid ink risotto, as black as an eclipse. The waitperson wore all white and I held my breath as she finished the dish tableside. Briny rice, tender squid and bonus pops of fish roe. There was nothing in that line-up that I didn't want to eat again and again. Taken as a single mouthful it was even more than the sum of its sublime parts.

Dessert was…Also a drink. I had the strawberry-pear gelato which is churned to order and then made adults-only with a pour of rose. My dining companion had the salted caramel tart and literally dreamed about it again that night.

Strawberry-pear gelato with rose, Santini Bar & Grill, Perth. Photo / Kim Knight
Strawberry-pear gelato with rose, Santini Bar & Grill, Perth. Photo / Kim Knight

Come here if…You thought Perth's entertainment scene was just off-duty, beer-swilling miners. So happy to be proved so wrong!

The bill… Almost hit $300, but we did have a bonus oyster course and some very lovely local chardonnay.
- Kim Knight