Sonny’s is seasoned with wokeness, but it doesn’t spoil the flavour

As you might expect Sonny’s has a low-waste kitchen where everything is cooked over fire to save the planet from coal-generated electricity. Its chef is Aaron Read and he is, to quote Seinfeld, the master of his domain.

Read is a Victorian who has cooked at a range of celebrated Melbourne restaurants. Since moving to Perth four years ago he has done stove time at the Rusty Pig and Billie H.

Smoked fish dip – they call it montecato, after the salt cod paste which hails from Venice – uses bycatch caught in the nets but not popular for sale.

The bycatch used in this instance is tailor, a perfectly good fish. It is made, like bacala, by blending it with soft-boiled potato and milk and whipping with olive oil.

Flavours include the subtle, soft perfume of society garlic, a stalky, green distant relative of garlic of which just the leaves are used. This is proper sustainable cookery utilising fish that would be otherwise thrown away or used for cat food.

Mushrooms are sourced from a company who use spent coffee grounds to grow their funghi in upcycled sea containers.Credit:Rob Broadfield

A mushroom skewer uses mushies from local growers, The Mushroom Guys, who grow their funghi in spent coffee grounds in upcycled sea containers in the southern suburbs. You can’t fault their green credentials. Neither can you fault their product. They are the best mushies a chef can use, and Aaron Read uses them well.

All sorts of mushrooms are threaded on to a steel skewer, seasoned and roasted over the fire. That’s it. Job done. The reason it is such a remarkable dish is the tare (pronounced tar-ray) sauce which sits in the bottom of the bowl. Tare is the super flavoured, umami-laden reduction sauce that is the start of every good ramen.

Read’s version uses shitake, miso, sugar, tamari and ginger to create a sweet and sour, astringent sauce as punchy as a roided-up nightclub bouncer. Dish of the day.

Albany white sardines are caught in the Southern Ocean and processed in Albany by Tuesday Foods, a remarkable sustainable WA seafood company.

The sardines are pickled and packed in oil and herbs, and when plated up at Sonny’s chef Read garnishes with desert limes and the shiny green leaves of the beach dune succulent, Aptenia.

The little fillets are imbued with knock-out flavour, firm and without the overtly fishy flavour one expects from sardines. Great product.

As for their flank steak, they had me at bone marrow butter. We asked for it rare. It arrived perfectly rare. Secondary grilling cuts do not respond well to anything past medium rare, but when properly cooked they out-taste and out-texture an eye fillet every day of the week.

It was nicely grilled, but it could have had a better crust. The only complaint with the bone marrow butter is there wasn’t enough for we bone marrow tragics. Great steak. Nice work.

Sonny’s is a fair dinkum find. I can’t imagine anyone of any age not enjoying this place. Its food is simple but well-executed. Flavours are big, but the cooking is humble and precise.

Sonny’s sardines: “The little fillets are imbued with knock-out flavour.”

Sonny’s sardines: “The little fillets are imbued with knock-out flavour.” Credit:Rob Broadfield

It’s the sort of bar that you can enjoy your way: a wine and a snack place, a wine-tasting experience, a full-blown steak and roast duck restaurant and everything in between.

You can grab a corner banquette with a buddy and quietly discuss your master’s degree in gyno-centric dance and gendered performance art or you can populate the bar and have a good old time with some stunning drinks and your raffish mates.

They open on Mondays, which is boon for drinkers and diners in a city where hospitality virtually shuts down on Monday. Their days off are Tuesday and Wednesday, not great revenue days for a suburban bar. They open for the party days, Thursday to Sunday. Very customer friendly. Clever

The highest compliment we can pay Sonny’s is that we’ll be back, and on our own dime. We’ll be back often. Love this place.


126 Hobart Street, Mount Hawthorn

Book online or just walk in.

Open: midday-late, Thursday-Sunday; 4pm-late, Monday; closed Tuesday-Wednesday

Prices: all dishes, $8-$50.


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