THE restaurant’s name, Habitué, is also a sign of what is yet to come.
“Habitué is someone who regularly goes to a place—it is a habit,” I hear a French waiter translate from her native tongue before our entrees are served.
Little did I know the Mediterranean-inspired food would make me want to come back many times over.
“We’re coming back here again with friends” I tell my partner, Pablo, rolling my eyes with pleasure after the first bite of the Shark Bay bugs with béarnaise sauce ($26).
We are already planning our next meal: slow-cooked whole lamb shoulder au jus ($75)—a big enough chunk of meat for most families or a group of close friends.
I say “close friends” because it is an intimate setting. I see candle light flicker in my partner’s eyes while water trickles from a nearby fountain and live jazz music pours out from the piano room. Quelle romantique.
We sit in the year-old restaurant’s front garden where gas burners, comfy cushions and blankets take the edge off the winter chill. Other dining options are inside or the rear courtyard under a canopy of vines.
Having given two giant ticks of approval for both food and ambience, I expect to find a chink in the armour—to no avail. The staff are exceptional.
Another waiter, possibly Spanish but no doubt exotic, checks in on us and finds time to linger for a few minutes on the busy Friday night to chat about travel and happiness.
“I love Perth,” she almost sings. “Where is home, you know? It is where you want it to be.”
I feel full of not just food, but also thought—an experience as rare as a beef sirloin steak can be at a restaurant, and not one to expect.
The best part of the night: not being rushed through the tapas menu. We fill our bellies with four dishes and two glasses of wine, leaving no room for dessert.
Next time we will try the quince and pistachio ice cream sandwich ($15) or share some cheese with quince and crackers ($15-$28).
Cheers to a new healthy habit.
1 Harvest Rd, North Fremantle
Open: for dinner Tuesday to Thursday; noon to 11pm Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday