It's not hard to imagine what life was like in Guildford in 1829. This sleepy, semi-rural spot was one of the first towns established after the founding of the Swan River Colony - initially as a water source and then marketplace. It retains a lot of its historical charm, courtesy of a clutch of old buildings (well, old, by Perth standards).
Nestled among them is Little Guildford: a beaut restaurant with a chic-country-farmhouse feel, good food and warm, thoughtful service. Plonk yourself on a plank outside (in spring you might get to sit under a blush of flowering pink cherry blossom trees), or in one of the cosy nooks inside.
Little Guildford's seasonal- produce-driven menu changes regularly. And while the dishes don't necessarily push the culinary envelope, servings are generous and rustically styled.
Starters on the night we ventured out included a jumble of "frenched" pull-apart, braised, short-ribs with a fine peppery coleslaw ($18), and a house-made parfait (pate, $16), with crudites and three styles of Melba toasts. Pot-set, the silken, buttery parfait had no hint of bitterness - a welcome sign the livers had been cleaned properly. The huge serve proved too rich for four of us to master but the staff - without prompting - transferred the leftovers to a doggy cup (If you are feeling less Cruella De Vil and more Bondi Vet, your dog may also love it.) Pumpkin gnocchi ($26) was light and fluffy, although the sauce had a too-soupy feel.
Another main of tender, jewel-pink, pan-fried salmon ($33) illustrated Little Guildford's uncluttered, simple approach to food: served simply with bravely al dente broccolini, standard mash and a balsamic-drizzled salad.
If you're not partial to dessert, you can instead indulge in a post-prandial at the landmark Rose & Crown Hotel across the road. But why rush? Especially on a warm evening when the restaurant is serving an ice-cream mocha and Kahlua pie ($15); creamy coffee centre cradled by a minty, biscuity base. Or classic creme brulee ($11), with a refreshing not-too-eggy custard and wafer-thin sugar crust.
The one drawback is that Little Guildford isn't open more often, although owners Nicole and Luke Turnbull are striving to change that, and experimenting initially with a Saturday breakfast sitting to add to Sunday's.
Address 104 Swan Street, Guildford
Phone 9378 2223
Open Breakfast: Sunday (from 8am), Lunch: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dinner: Thursday to Saturday (from 6pm). Extra opening times coming soon.
The buzz Country casual with flair. This cosy restaurant nestled in the heart of historic Guildford serves up generous meals in picturesque surrounds.
Other: Not licensed, BYO only. Corkage $3.50pp