Perth bartender James Connolly has been around. He’s run small bars (El Publico, Defectors, Enrique’s. He’s also run bigger bars and was group bar manager for Long Chim, as well as Perth’s Ark Group (Market Grounds, Galway Hooker) before its venues were purchased by Australian Venue Co in mid-2022. What he hasn’t run – yet – is his own bar. That changes this year with the opening of Bassendean wine bar Bertie.
Taking over the former Cork & Bottle site on Old Perth Road, Bertie will represent close to two decades of bartending experience for Connolly. But more important than a stacked CV is an understanding of what locals want.
“I live in the area, my kids go to Eden Hill Primary, and [Bertie chef] Anthony [Yuill] is just over the bridge in Guildford: we’re both locals,” says Connolly to Broadsheet. “We’re invested in the area. The people in Bassendean are an incredibly engaged community [and] really care about what happens in their suburb. They want great places to go and great things to do. Part of our job as operators is to deliver that.”
In Connolly’s mind, delivering good times to the Bassendean crowd means a wine list with international bottles as well as local names from the Swan Valley, Margaret River and other West Australian regions. (There’ll be 20 by-the-glass options.) Local breweries such as Bassendean-based Nail Brewing will also be on tap. In a nod to Connolly and Yuill’s shared British heritage – Connolly was born in Ascot, Yuill was raised in Croydon, South London – the cocktails will touch on British favourites, including a Pimm’s Cup and seasonal gin and tonics.
Of course, a good local is as much about its food as its drink. Yuill – once upon a time of Melbourne heavyweight Vue de Monde, but more recently Shadow Wine Bar and La Madonna Nera – is looking forward to digging into his heritage.
“I’ll be leaning on that modern British style of cooking that I grew up being fascinated with,” says Yuill. “I watched every season of Great British Menu, which led me to people like Tom Kerridge, Marcus Wareing, Marco Pierre White, [Gordon] Ramsay and all the people that came through that kind of cooking.”
Recently returned from a trip to England to visit family and touch base with the country’s food scene, Yuill’s vision of modern British cooking will be about celebrating pub culture – his menu will include Scotch eggs with a house-made brown sauce and a refined take on steak and chips – as much as local produce and producers. As you’d hope from a good local, the kitchen at this 120-seater will stay open through the day, and you can take your pick from a seat indoors or out in the shaded al fresco area.
Bertie (77 Old Perth Road, Bassendean) is due to open in autumn.