Restaurant News

Coming soon to Perth: a small bar with “weird wine”, new-style pub food and an all-woman kitchen team

A team of local hospitality guns is set to open Nieuw Ruin in Fremantle, where the food is given as much thought as the drinks.

By Ai-Ling Truong
From left: Nieuw Ruin head chef Blaze Young, venue manager Maria Marter and owner Dimitri Rtshiladze (seated). Photo: Jacqueline Jane.
Perth small bar Nieuw Ruin is a portmanteau of the Dutch "nieuw jenever" (new-style Dutch gin) and "mother's ruin", old English slang for gin. Just don't assume it's a gin bar. "The name just sounded cool," says owner Dimitri Rtshiladze.
It's set to open late July in Fremantle with a wine list featuring some 300-plus drops from small, independent producers from around the world and lesser-known local varieties (the bar's Instagram profile promises "weird wine"). The cocktail list, meanwhile, might have 20 drinks on a seasonal rotation, featuring native ingredients and small-batch spirits.
They're gunning for a vibe that's neighbourly and welcoming for the 100 patrons who can fit in the venue – see the large verandah and custom-built communal tables that encourage community and bonhomie. "We want this to be a local hang-out […] You can come here and meet people that you haven't met before," says Rtshiladze.
The seasoned barman worked at Mechanics Institute and Dominion League before opening his first bar, Foxtrot Unicorn in 2019, and knows a thing or two about creating a venue that patrons will return to. The vision at Nieuw Ruin is to build a great team and provide a smart offering without losing the heart of a local bar. A key to this is bringing people on board who are already part of the local community, such as venue manager Maria Marter (formerly of Republic of Fremantle). "We don't want to be fancy. We just want to be good," says Rtshiladze.
Head chef Blaze Young will lead an all-woman team in the Nieuw Ruin kitchen. Photo: Jacqueline Jane
The food is just as much of a focus as the drinks. In the kitchen is Blaze Young in her first head chef role, with a solid CV dot-pointed with stints at Propeller, Billie H and Madalena's.
At Nieuw Ruin, she's flying the flag for local Western Australian produce, lesser-known cuts of meat and whole beast butchery. She swoons over seafood, having developed her love for the creatures of the sea during her tenure as Madalena's sous-chef, and working closely with socially conscious seafood supplier Fins. "You'll see a lot of high quality seafood on the menu: oysters, caviar, scallops and seasonal WA fish," she says.
Young's love of reading old cookbooks from the '50s, '60s and '70s are an inspiration for her new-wave pub-ish menu. They're rooted in nostalgia, but the flavours speak to the here and now. Take the devilled livers for example. "They're something my grandma used to cook my dad when he was young," she says. "Offal wasn't a choice but an affordable way to feed meat to the family." See also: pig's head croquettes, and slow-braised rabbit pie with pancetta peas. A twist on the classic French dip steak sandwich sees koji-dry-aged kangaroo loin cooked over charcoal, served with a sticky, spiced dashi gravy.
From the kitchen hands to the sous-chefs, Young will also be leading an all-woman team on the pans – a rarity in this male-dominated industry.
"I haven't worked with a full female team since I was at Billie H and it's actually a really special experience to be able to give to young women in the industry," she says. "[I'm] creating a safe space for them to reconcile their 'femininity' in a job where you're told you have no choice but to be strong, emotionless, unyielding and 'masculine'. I think there is so much value in running a kitchen with sensitivity and empathy." The Nieuw Ruin kitchen, she hopes, will be a base to grow strong female leaders in hospitality.
Fremantle's small-bar scene is growing, and locals are sitting up and taking notice. But with a smart food ethos run by in-the-know operators, Nieuw Ruin looks like it could well be a bar with a difference.
Nieuw Ruin is set to open late July, 2021

12 Norfolk Street, Fremantle, WA

For updates, follow Nieuw Ruin on Instagram/@nieuwruin