It was the loud voice of recognition, before the bear hug, that assured me my first meal at Crown Perth would be memorable. The greeting came from that loveable chunk of a man, Guillaume Brahimi. The man responsible for the brilliant eponymous restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne and now in Perth.
Bistro Guillaume in Melbourne, in the Crown complex on the Yarra, is one of my favourites. I love the prawn salad with smears of avocado and croutons but curse myself when I forget to tell them to hold the onion.
It’s a long time ago, when I used to often do the HINCH program from Perth, since I’d been to the (pre-James Packer) Burswood casino complex.
There’s a permanent reminder in my living room: a complex sculpture of bronze balls called Galaxy. I bought it from a foyer display at Burswood after a well-oiled dinner.
On this visit, Guillaume proudly took me on a tour of his new nosh-house in the west and like, Nobu next door, it was booming.
Almost impossible to get a late booking at either place on Friday or Saturday and on Sunday night it was an ‘ in by six, out by eight’ sitting at Nobu.
Actually, that suits a traveller fine, when you are booked on the red-eye overnighter on Virgin. And Crown will also let you keep you keep your room on until 6p.m. (at half-rate) if it’s available.
Both Guillaume and Nobu have all the familiar dishes they serve in the East. And it was good to see Guillaume himself in the Perth kitchen cooking. Unlike some name restaurant chefs who seem to spend so much time on television they’d need a map to find their kitchen. And a cookbook to match what’s on the menu.
At Nobu I had some signature salmon tacos, a good serving of tuna only sashimi, and a generous prawn and vegetables tempura ($32).
They charged me $8 corkage for the alcohol-removed Edenvale but I couldn’t really complain. The waiter said it was his first day and it was Nobu policy.
(That was nothing compared with $12.90 for a bottle of Fiji Water.)
Crown Metropol Perth has a huge Superdome lobby which even managed to dwarf a spectacular seven-storey illuminated Christmas tree and four-storey reindeer.
The rooms are similar to the Japanese-style Metropol rooms in Melbourne with similar classy bathrooms and the most comfortable, soft, bathrobes outside Neiman-Marcus.
I dined two nights on the balcony at Guillaume, overlooking a sprawling, sparkling series of deep and shallow swimming pools and waterslides. Late at night the pool bars were jumping.
FOOTNOTE: It was a timely coincidence bumping into Guillaume. Only days earlier he had been the celebrity chef at a friend’s law firm Christmas lunch in Sydney. She was quite the flummoxed fan.
I told her how to put it into perspective. Translate ‘Guillaume Le Chef’ into English. It comes out Bill the Cook. Either way I love him. And his restaurants.