Tucked away in the corner of Subiaco Village at the site of the old Ess Bar, is the Village Bar. It’s a gorgeous Melbourne-esque cross between a gastropub and a bistro that has been decorated very organically. Think wood, vines and lovely clean lines. There’s chairs and tables of different types; and menus stuck on top of wooden clipboards. It’s funky and suited to the new progression that Perth restaurants and bars seem to be making in the past couple years. This year in particular.
It’s a Thursday night and the number of people inside is decent – most tables and couches are occupied with smiling groups. It’s an eclectic mix just like you’d expect for Subiaco and I have to admit I am eying the people around me curiously as my friends and I sit around chatting.
It’s our ‘family dinner’ night for Jay, Linda, Vee and I and Jay’s chosen the Village Bar, which I have to admit I hadn’t even heard of. One peep at the menu online and I have to say, I was pretty excited for our meal.
The menu is extensive, with food to satisfy all tastes. The pricing is more than reasonable and the set up may look like a funky eatery, but is more like your normal pub in that you go up to the bar to order. We all debate over a couple items each before settling on a different menu dish each for some diversity.
Jay initially is leaning towards the crispy pork belly atop grilled apples with slaw and rocket salad. It sounds phenomenal, but he finally settles on the salt & pepper squid with red nam jim sauce and Asian paw paw salad ($21).
The squid is cooked perfectly; scored and crunchy with just the right amount of seasoning. The sauce is vibrant and the salad fresh. It looks like a perfect summer’s dish.
Vee goes for the 200gram Black Angus steak sandwich with onion jam, horseradish butter, roma tomatoes, cucumber, cos lettuce and a side of chips ($21).
The steak is juicy and thick; glistening pink on the inside as she cuts into it. It’s a very decent serving size for the price and the presentation is gorgeous on the wooden board. It’s very on theme with the decor and the flavours are impressive. It’s a simple dish done very well. The chips are crunchy on the ends but starchy in the middle, dusted with a light smattering of salt. There’s also a delicious garlic aioli sauce to dip them in.
Linda goes for the dish that had initially caught my eye, the chicken, mushroom and sweet corn pie with mash and peas ($22). Once again the presentation is cute and clean; the food sitting happily in miniature pots.
The pie is lusciously saucy; thick and filled with chicken chunks, sweet corn kernels, peas and little cubes of carrot. The puff pastry lid on top is the best part – but only because all of us are massive pastry fiends. It is, besides feta, one of my worst addictions.
For my meal I toss around a couple options. The warm lamb salad definitely has my attention, as does the crab & angel hair pasta. But finally I settle on the local fish chips in a honey vodka batter ($22).
The serving is the largest of all the meals; and the presentation is adorably kitschy. There’s a cone of paper holding a pile of the same chips Vee has with her meal, with four slices of fish on top. Holy moly! The batter is delicious; crunchy and slightly sweet. The fish inside is incredibly soft and succulent; flaking away like a good piece of fish should. The squeeze of lemon over the top enhances the flavour perfectly.
On side are two sauces to enjoy with the meal – a homemade tartare and a garlic aioli. The tartare is nice but nothing earth shattering. But the aioli, that’s a completely different story. I fall in love with it, scraping my bowl clean with each piece of fish and chips.
I have to say, my first impression of the Village Bar and it’s menu was one where I was wowed and excited. And now after eating there, I can see that it was justified. It’s simple, comforting food presented in a modern and fresh manner. I like the price tag, the flavours and the overall ambiance.
It’s worth a visit to the village.