Gone are the days when you could open a small bar in Perth and people would flock because it was part of the boom. A point of maturity has been reached, where small bar owners have to be savvy across the board: wine, beer, décor, food – and that often forgotten ingredient, service. Half measures won’t cut it.
Enter Budburst, the first venture by sommelier Rachael Niall, in what was previously Iain Lawless’s Wee Bar. An experienced sommelier working in Perth, Sydney and London, Niall has obviously attained more than just a good palate. From the drinks repertoire, to the small plates, to a team that know the business, Budburst is on the money.
The wine list is a smart curation of taste, not a tick in the box of a wholesaler's order book; an introduction or a reacquaintance with everything from Austrian pinot gris to the best of Australian natural wines, to something closer to home from the West. It’s certainly not a list girt by parochialism. Select from about 20 different wines by the glass, or if you're going by the bottle, you've got around 60 of them to consider.
Cuisine is loosely based on European, with Gwenael Lesle (ex-Bouchon Bistro in Wembley) heading up the kitchen. Delightful house-made charcuterie involves duck terrines, chicken liver parfait and freshly baked brioche, while the Croque Monsieur makes for a perfect savoury hit in between rounds. Larger plates are available too – the dining room at the back is the best place to get into the more refined menu.
You could easily characterise Budburst as a neighbourhood bar - and a very good one at that - but it goes beyond its destination. Seek it out.