The north of Melbourne is in the process of gentrification – and this extends to the restaurant scene. Leading the way in the small suburb of Northcote is none other than Perri Restaurant. A haven for foodies, locals and visitors alike, Perri combines an inspired menu of fusion tapas, fine wine and a buzzing atmosphere. This is not fine dining, but more “a place where you can chill out” says owner Joe Perri, whose lifelong ambition to open a restaurant has culminated in this modern and inviting restaurant, which speaks of both the past and future. The past we’re referring to is all over the restaurant’s exposed brick walls – portraits of Perri’s grandfather arriving back from a holiday to Italy, coupled with vintage photos of the Queen’s visit to Northcote. Polished concrete floors and black mosaic tables pay homage to Northcote’s former past as a thriving industrial suburb. The future, however, plays its part in the kitchen.
Inspired by his overseas travels, Joe Perri, together with Chef Jess Allen, have conceptualised a menu based on the idea of tapas – small bites of food which are easily shared. After years of wholesaling fruit and vegetables to restaurants, Perri is now on the other side of the equation. Thanks to his experience as a wholesaler, Perri has an eye for quality produce, and the menu showcases this obvious attention to detail. Representing the European side of the menu, goat cheese fritters topped with onion and tomato marmalade are light and robust, while a flavourful scallop ceviche with heart of palm, kaffir lime leaf oil and a kick of chilli backs the Asian offerings. Pan fried Morton Bay bugs, served with a Vietnamese salad is one of Perri’s personal favourites and this dish is proof that good food is food done simply. And at just $5 per serve, it would be rude not to order a whole plate to yourself.
We must warn, however, dessert may be tapas-inspired, but not tapas sized. A small dessert for two, known as “Perri’s chocolate garden”, is a cacophony of treats including raspberry sorbet, chocolate cake and a Thai-inspired custard tart. Chocolate soil runs down the middle of the dish and the pandan custard is then poured around its periphery, all done table side. Just like the food, the wine list is well chosen and accessible – with a good selection of European and Australian wines at a very reasonable price-point. What we have failed to mention at this point, is the ingredients are all homemade. Everything from the raspberry sorbet and corn tortillas to the house-cured bacalla that the chefs fold through the eggs at breakfast. With such promise for success, Perri’s is a restaurant you’ll want to return to again and again, even if you do live on the other side of the river.
Read more about Perri Restaurant here