A look at this year's list of Gold Plate finalists for best new restaurant gives a picture of a varied and vibrant WA hospitality scene. Represented within the lucky few are different corners of the culinary spectrum, from upscale Japanese to modern Australian to a taste of the Indian subcontinent.
Catering Institute of WA president Craig Joel, who presides over the awards, explains that entrants in the category come from across the other judging categories.
"So we've got everything from finer dining at the Terrace Hotel, Trustee and Butterworth to the charms of somewhere like the Copper Chimney, a more homely Indian restaurant in Fremantle," he says.
The field of finalists is mainly Perth-based with those establishments which are the toast of the CBD rubbing shoulders with the likes of Fuku in Mosman Park, a restaurant that takes the stress out of ordering with its Omakase approach (common in Japan with the chef serving up whatever is fresh and available) and Roleystone's Views 101 on the Araluen Golf Resort.
With no entrants in the final running from the South West the lone finalist from outside Perth and Fremantle is The Esplanade Hotel in Port Hedland. Xavier Kris, director of food and beverage at The Esplanade sees it as a sign that its approach is hitting all the right notes. "We are delighted that the quality we offer has been recognised," he says.
"Our philosophy is for homemade over pre-made, fresh over frozen and service over attitude. Not just the same old country fare, we are proud to say that we've brought the food revolution seen in Perth to the Pilbara and the Kimberley."
While not the case this year, Mr Joel tells us that technically a coffee shop could be in this category and win if it got the highest percentile score.
"It gives an idea, however, of the breadth of entrants that can vie for the top spot," he says.
While, the standard across the competition, now into its 46th year, has been exceptionally high, Mr Joel explains why there were about 35 that just didn't make the cut.
"This year's judging has also seen more line-ball calls than ever before, with an incredibly tightly fought contest across all the categories," he says.
"We've scrutinised the numbers and scores from the judges again and again. This is people's livelihoods and businesses we are talking about."
With this in mind, whoever comes out on top, when announced at the Gala Ball on October 28, can be sure that they are truly at the top of their game.
2013 GOLD PLATE NEW RESTAURANTS
The Terrace Hotel, Perth
The Esplanade, Port Hedland
The Trustee Bar and Bistro
Fuku/Omakase/ Teppanyaki, Mosman Park
The Butterworth Bar and Kitchen, Perth
Views 101 on Araluen, RoleystoneCopper Chimney, South Fremantle