Category Archives: Small Bar

Five Bar

There’s nothing like heading to a bar where you know you’re going to get looked after, where the drinks are quality, the food nourishing, and the vibe relaxed. Such are the experiences I’ve always had at Five Bar in Mt Lawley.

So it was really no surprise that when asked where I’d like to be interviewed for the food blogging story on 730 ABC recently, Five Bar was the spot I chose.

I love the place because the menu is simple and well thought out, featuring all the kinds of things I like to eat. Steak tartare, rare roast beef sandwiches, marinated octopus, and some consistently well made (and fat) hand cut chips. The selection of craft beers and ciders is impressive, and the light filtering in through the big louvered windows up the back makes it feel like you’re outside while you’re still indoors.

I am slightly biased towards this place because bar manager Macca is a lovely (and very huggable) chap who has very good taste in booze, as I was introduced to at 399. The staff on the floor led by Pia and Emma are welcoming and professional, and if you’re smart you’ll head there on a week night where there’s just a little bit more breathing room to spread out on the lounges and benches.

The great thing about Five is that it’s a constantly evolving venue. With new beers, wines, and ciders being added to the list on a regular basis. Recently they’ve had another of my favourite people, Jerry Fraser – Oyster shucker extraordinaire, doing Sunday afternoons there. Cool drinks and fresh oysters are about the perfect proposition to me.

Jerry Fraser @ Five BarFive BarFive BarFive BarFive BarFive BarFive Bar

Five Bar
560 Beaufort Street
Mount Lawley

Silvana Coffee Cocktails @ 399

1/4 of an Espresso Martini Macca drops the flame

Espresso and Alcohol. Such a tantalising but deadly combination of stimulant and depressant pitted together in a vicious battle for who can do more damage to your sleep patterns. It’s not too often that I feel the limits of either my espresso or alcohol consumption tested (which is not to say I abuse either). But this little event held at 399 bar, an initiative of Silvana coffee, left my head in a state more akin to a Sunday morning after the worlds biggest bender.

Which is not to say that any of it wasn’t delicious, because it definitely was. Macca and Gary from 399 were mixing up espresso martinis, blazers made with 15 year old Glenfiddich whisky and inflused with coffee and cinnamon, and then to finish off, a coconut sorbet with limoncello over the top. Tom Wearne of European Foods Coffee Education Centre was also there behind the espresso machine, pumping out shots of Silvana and reprising his signature drink from the W.A Barista Competition last year, this time with the wonderful addition of chambord, which seemed to make the rest of the drink come alive that little bit more.

There was a who’s that of local food and coffee types around, and along with Mr Cafe Grendel, A slightly tipsy but holding it together Karen Cheng, and myself, a nice contingent of bloggers too.

We were excellently hosted by John Ferrari and Catherine Natale of European Foods who were showing off the new Silvana Exclusive blend of coffee they’ve put together, and food and cocktails flowed freely from the ever cool kids of 399.

A little tip for the casual punter though. If you’re going drink a near endless stream of coffee cocktails, each one with at least a shot of espresso in them. Be prepared to have a fitful sleep and some of the craziest dreams you’ve ever imagined, or perhaps just plan not to sleep for a week and have a couple more.

Reanne from SPICE MagazineTotally prescription glassesEspresso Blazer baseMacca drops the flameThis girl I keep running intoThe line upPost BlazeGazzaNice jugsCocktail contemplationA cautious sipperKaren Cheng !1/4 of an Espresso MartiniNat dishes the sorbetLimoncelloRows of shotsMacca - at your serviceTom's Baby Espresso CocktailTom's Baby Espresso CocktailTom's Baby Espresso CocktailTom's Baby Espresso CocktailTom's Baby Espresso CocktailTom's Baby Espresso CocktailTom's Baby Espresso Cocktail

Andaluz Bar & Tapas

Scallops & Pork belly @ Andaluz Pouring Vouvray @ Andaluz

This post is a timely reminder that context is everything in dining.

So I’m just going to come out and say it. I really did not enjoy Andaluz the first time I went. It was a Friday night, it was busy, full of well suited business types and lawyer lookalikes. The people who no doubt keep most of the inner city bars afloat, but whose presence inevitably makes me cringe as their conversations turn to the share market, Bali, getting tickets to Pink for their missus, and whatever else it is that cashed up bogans and stockbrokers like to talk about.

I was squished into a small table and had to shout to be heard above the din. The waitress was sweet but clueless and felt like she needed to explain what jamon was to me. And here was me thinking my “I know what jamon is, where it comes from, and can quote you a thousand facts about it” face was so obvious. In short, I wrote it off as one of those places that people with too much money who work in the city would go to in the hope that some of its coolness will rub off on them.

Skip forward a few months and a friend was going out on a Thursday night and invited me along, “Sure I’ll give it a another shot” I thought. The crowd had suddenly changed into a group of people who looked like they could all have their own restaurant review blogs if they weren’t too busy being good-looking and having intellectual conversations with musicians and artists. Suddenly the menu had come to life as well. Looking at it in a new light, it was so much more interesting, the wine list extensive and thoughtful, the food more interesting. Clearly I still didn’t fit it, but we were heading in the right direction.

You see, I had thought Andaluz was yet another in a long line of places to join the awful tapas band wagon. So many places in Perth (and around the world) have popped up calling themselves tapas bars, when they are in actual fact nothing more than schlocky Spanglish joints with little to no creativity, some mention of chorizo on the menu, and prices through the roof for tiny plates of nothing special.

My general reaction to hearing about a new place serving tapas or tapas-like dishes is one of casual skepticism. I actually don’t mind eating that way if it’s done well. Being greedy and adventurous by nature, I love being able to try 8 things on the menu instead of just one. But so often the combination of those 8 dishes does not add up to the value of one very well made dish of the non-tapas variety.

Andaluz Lamp The chaise @ Andaluz

Suffice to say however, I’ve changed my mind. Many subsequent visits to Andaluz have been excellent nights. Interesting seasonal changes abound with solid staples. The seared scallops on confit pork cheeks are outstanding and have been getting better every time I’ve been, and the duck albondigas (meatballs) are sublime. If you’re feeling rich you can splash on freshly shaved jamon by the gram (a dangerous road to go down because you’ll just want more).

The wine list is parochially Spanish without resorting to the same boring bottles you find all over town. You can still find the few odd Australian/French/Italian wines that fit into the style of the food they’re doing, but it’s pretty much Spain all the way. Thoughtfully chosen interesting expressions from a wide cross-section of Spain’s best wines.

So next time you find yourself in a place that doesn’t float your culinary boat on first glance, take a step back, think about the night, think about the crowd, think about the menu. Whilst you can’t always expect miraculous changes, it’s amazing what a difference a day can make.

Andaluz lightingBathroom floor in AndaluzHand drier powered by a jet engineMarc Brediff Vouvray @ AndaluzPouring Vouvray @ AndaluzAndaluz LampScallops on pork belly @ AndaluzThe chaise @ Andaluz

Andaluz Bar and Tapas
Basement level
21 Howard Street, Perth
T: 08 9481 0092
www.andaluzbar.com.au

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Andaluz Bar & Tapas on Urbanspoon

The Stanley

The Stanley Cape Goose GSM

In a city where it’s all too easy to lose your faith in good service, who would have thought that a couple of lapsed Catholics would restore mine ? Such is the quality of character of the men behind the bar at The Stanley, Wembley’s best and brightest small bar.

The Stanley is the brainchild of Paul Fowler and his partner in crime Gerry Shields, Stanley being the namesake of the bar and the name Paul’s alter ego when he was a rowdy youngster out hitting the turps a little too hard at Uni. None of that in this establishment however. The Stanley is all about quiet sophisticated charm in relaxed surroundings.

The main room gives a doff of it’s cap towards a British era that I can never actually identify, but likely ends with “ian” (Victorian, Edwardian, Elizabethian… you get the drift), it features an eclectic collection of leather and suede bound furniture that all cry out to be lounged on… and would be the perfect place to smoke a cigar if such things were permitted. Of course they’re not, but you can do so in a little courtyard at the back with tardis like proportions that stretches down and around the building.

Paul Fowler the bar @ The Stanley

The front room features a long wooden bar and sturdy bar stools with a row of lights slung casually above, and quirky touches around the place point to Paul and Gerry’s sacrilegious sense of humour. The thing I like about The Stanley though, is that it’s not complicated. It isn’t staffed by a team of young hipsters mixing the latest trend in cocktails, and it doesn’t necessarily attract the in crowd. It’s a great suburban bar that everyone can feel welcome in without worrying about pomp or pretence.

The wine list is short but done very well. There’s some excellent choices to suit very discerning palates (Cherubino Riesling, Cape Goose GSM, Millbrook Viognier) and Paul has made an effort not to take the piss over bottle prices, with what I’d call some of the lowest markups around on full bottle prices.
There’s also a decent list of international beers and Becks on tap for the diehard pint lovers.

The other great thing about The Stanley is it’s symbiotic relationship with Flipside burgers next door. Order your burger and ask them to deliver it next door, then go in and relax with a drink and wait for the burger to arrive. It’s a partnership that just makes sense and an irresistible option when thinking about a quick weeknight meal. Just wait for McDonalds to cotton onto it…

Millbrook ViognierJesus reminds youThe Stanley menuPaul poursOpen Hours of The StanleyStanley himselfFurniture @ The Stanleyoutdoors @ The StanleyJesus and/or MaryMenu @ The StanleyFlying ducksTasting plate @ The StanleyPaul Fowlerthe bar @ The StanleyElbows love barsCape Goose GSMBulmers CiderThe Stanley

So the next time you’re wandering the suburbs of Perth thinking about heading out for a quiet drink (or 5), you now have somewhere to go.

The Stanley
294 Cambridge St
Wembley
Phone: (08) 9387 4481

The Stanley on Urbanspoon

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Bar 399

The bar at 399 Bloody Mary @ 399

Small bars, small bars, small bars.

Perth is awash with them of late. You’d almost think they’d sprung up overnight in a flurry of activity caused by the state government lovingly embracing the community and doling out liquor licenses like they were sewing corn into a big fertile paddock.

Of course the reality of the situation is pretty different. Most of the small bars that have opened in Perth recently have been a long time in the making. Legislation changes that were supposed to make it easier to apply for and be granted a small bar license, and thus be able stay open til midnight during the week and to serve drinks without food, have not exactly come to fruition the way the general public would have expected.

It’s been a long and often arduous road for the majority of these venues to get off the ground, jumping through hoops like training monkeys hoping not to have their bananas confiscated. Only to be rewarded with yet more trials and ordeals. I for one, however, am glad that those people persist in the face of inexplicable bureaucracy, or we wouldn’t have such interesting new venues like Bar 399 to tickle our collective fancies.

It’s situated at the top end of William Street next to one of my favourite Vietnamese restaurants, in a fairly nondescript location, that’s slowly building in potential for educated winers and diners out for a good time. The concept is simple, a small space with a bar down one side, booths down the other. A regularly changing wine list that isn’t based on any one distributor, bespoke cocktails from a group of experienced bar tenders, and a nightly meal of just one selection.

ECM ReflectionsNat serving at 399Havana Club at 399The bar at 399399 manager NatEspresso at 399Cheshire AlexNorthbridge styleratiHavana, where jazz musicans congregateBen n Jen at 399Bloody Mary @ 399Bloody Mary @ 399

The hook that got me in however was the master stroke of bacon and egg rolls and Bloody Marys served on a Sunday morning. $15 for a thick roll filled with lashings of bacon and a fried egg or two, and a peppery but piquant Bloody Mary is as fine a way to start a day as I can think of… A classy hair of the dog that even temporarily took the place of my dim sum ritual, which is a formidable opponent to almost everything.

I think it’s time to start rediscovering your city through the eyes of some of these venues. Perth is not, and will probably never be… Melbourne, but the more venues like this that open up, and the more people who start to build a following behind them, the better off we’ll all be.

Bar 399
399 William St, Northbridge

www.399bar.com

399 Bar on Urbanspoon

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