I don’t think I could ever be described as much of a night owl. Sure I am all for a loooooong, leisurely evening of fine dining and a few cheeky glasses of vino but I’m generally perched at the same locale for these proceedings and wouldn’t tend to go to more than one spot in a night. So you can appreciate that it was with some trepidation (and also a healthy splash of excitement) that I lined up a night out with friends that would definitely take us to two different spots. And both of those spots were small bars so I figured it was fair to say that we were bar hopping.
Our first stop was inspired by an email that I had received about the launch of the Wolf Pack at Wolf Lane from 5 til 7 where they were putting on a few drinks and nibbles and people could stop by. It sounded like a bit of fun, so we locked that in and the next challenge was to secure a dinner booking for our group of 4. I tried a few of the newbies around town but unfortunately I had left our run a little late so it was slightly more difficult to find a place than I had hoped. But with persistent googling and a few emails I lined us up a dinner booking at The Laneway Lounge. So with those two details locked in, we were set!
I’d actually never been to Wolf Lane before so was looking forward to the chance to finally check it out. Down an alleyway just off Murray street, it’s very unassuming from the outside, albeit there is a giant graffiti wolf painted on the wall near the door. But funnily enough when we were looking for the door I hadn’t even noticed it!
Wolf Lane is one of Perth’s best kept secrets. Nestled down an alleyway off Murray street in the heart of the CBD, Wolf Lane provides a unique setting for corporate cocktail events, relaxed after work drinks with friends or even a late night rendezvous.
The bar itself resembles a NYC loft, with exposed brick work and high ceilings contrasted with eclectic vintage furniture and antiquated finishing touches.
And I couldn’t agree with them more on their description of how the bar looks. It’s a quirky collection of plush chairs, leather chesterfields and antique lamps that somehow don’t look out of place against the more modern art work on the walls. Beware of the Big Bad Wolf!
For their launch party all the staff were dressed in fairy tale costumes which was all very festive and as we arrived we were presented with a mysterious brown paper bag which we would later discover contained a bottle of mini M&Ms, a cupcake and a badge. Reminiscent of kids birthday parties and a lolly bag as you left. Was a lovely treat.
We’d also been given two drink vouchers to enjoy a Green Fairy Cocktail. In keeping with the whimsy of the palce the drinks came served in small, brown medicine bottles emblazoned with the Green Fairy Absinthe logo. They were a combination of absinthe, orange juice and pineapple juice. Very fruity and very easy drinking. So we sat and sipped on those.
I had seen a few different food platters being set up around tables and our party of four was given a cheese board to work on.
I have to say we put a decent dent in it and having cheese as a predinner snack was novel.
Wolf Lane had been very generous with the drinks and nibbles they provided for their launch do and I can definitely imagine this out of the way bar will be a very popular place to snuggle into a corner with a tasty board and a few drinks on a Friday or Saturday evening (Wolf Lane is open Friday and Saturday from 4pm to 12am).
But our next port of call beckoned and we wandered down Murray Street in search of the Laneway Lounge. I knew it was near Shafto Lane but as we walked down we somehow missed it. Thankfully some eagle eye work by Mr R located our dinner venue and we walked ourselves down the red carpet and inside.
A hidden gem tucked in a laneway off Murray Street opposite Shaftos Lane, The Laneway Lounge intends to enhance further the Perth bar scene evolution. The lounge is, without a doubt, a beauty; elegant and refined, like pieces of New Orleans and old Paris transported to the heart of Perth.
The Laneway Lounge aims to provide this busy city a place to unwind with mellow live performances accentuating on vocal jazz. Consisting of 3 distinctive areas, The Laneway Lounge has a room for everyone. Whether it is dining at the Live Dining Room, a night out catching up with your friends at the Lounge ( ask about our Private Booths experience), or a night you may fancy a drink alone at the Bar, this full table serviced venue will be a place you can sit down, relax and be accompanied by good music, drinks and food.
The fit out is really impressive. Row upon row of filament lights decoratively illuminate the room and the place has a real old world glamour about it. We had our booking in the Live Dining Room, so as we were shown in, we wandered past the Bar and the Lounge (complete with some very impressive large booths) and it just gave me further appreciation for what a great job they’ve done with the fit out as I saw more of the place.
We were the first table to arrive in the Live Dining Room, which was unsurprising because I knew the live music didn’t start until 8 and we arrived at 7, but that was fine, there was still plenty of atmosphere. Our table for 4 was snug and I suspected it was going to be an interesting exercise trying to squeeze in four plates when we ordered food, but we would cross that bridge when we came to it. More importantly it felt appropriate to have a drink in hand in such a lovely spot. Despite a very impressive cocktail list I decided to stick with wine and the Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2011 was my drink of choice. The lads opted for red but Miss E had her heart set on a cocktail and first up ordered the Granny Cider Apple Sour – vodka + house made cider + apple juice + fresh pressed lemon juice = served short over a cider apple sphere. They didn’t take long to arrive and the cocktail was an impressive drink to behold, particularly with its decorative slices of green apple and icy cider orb floating in the glass.
With drinks sorted our attention turned to food. Despite some very appetising choices in the small shared section we recognised that our table would make it tricky to stack up a whole lot of little plates and then each have a plate on top of that. So a main meal each was a much easier way to go. Naturally, my meat lover couldn’t go past the steak, Char grilled Rib Eye, spinach, crisp potatoes & bone marrow sauce (gf) 39, while Miss E went with the Roast Ora King Salmon ﬁllet w/ peas, asparagus, leeks & parsley butter (gf) 36 and myself and Mr R liked the sound of the Slow roast pork belly w/ fennel, apple, walnuts & bacon jus (gf) 32. And I was intrigued by the Fattie chips w/ trufﬂe aioli (v, gf) 9 so we ordered a serve of those to share.
As we had anticipated it was a mission to fit everything on and it was almost a blessing that the pork belly was served on slate rectangles so we could tetris everything into a workable configuration on the table. We got there though and I had to start with one of the chips. Apologies for the blurry pic but as you can hopefully see they came served in a cone with a generous dish of the truffle aioli on the side. As the name suggested they were a chunky size and I’m going to say they are the best chips I have had in a very long time. Cooked to crunchy perfection, well seasoned and what an indulgent delight the truffle aioli was. Such a decadent and delicious dipping sauce! I could gush on but I think you get the gist…… this fattie loved the fattie chips
On to the main event. I thought the pork presented nicely. Three large slices, along with a decorative arrangement of fennel, apple slices, a sprinkle of walnuts and an artistic smear of apple. Pork and apple. It just works so well. This was very well cooked pork belly. Rendered to a delicious softness, while still having fantastic crunchy crackle. I enjoyed it. I had wondered whether it needed more of a sauce as it was only a drizzle of the bacon jus, but I suspect it was because I only noticed the apple puree after one piece of the pork given the rotation of my plate. It tied together a lot more once I made that discovery
Across the table Miss E gave her salmon a positive verdict and on having a bite of GG’s steak I had to agree with him that it was a very nice piece of meat. Especially with some of the bone marrow. Will you just look at it! The generous piece of bone was an impressive addition to the plate and I think if I had my choice again I would have actually gone with the rib eye. I’ll know that for my return visit.
The music had started while we ate and there was a saxophone player along with a solo singer. Both were really good and the live dining room was soon full to the brim with those wanting to enjoy the tunes. I had actually been worried it might be too loud to talk when the music started but it was actually just the right volume. We enjoyed another wine after our dinner and Miss E changed things up with a Laneway Mule – ketel one vodka+ homemade spiced ginger beer + fresh lime + fresh cucumber = served in a mug. We all had a sip of this one so that we could fully appreciate the spicy kick of ginger that was in the Laneway Mule. Wow it was a powerful drink. Of the two cocktails Miss E tried, the first was said to be the favourite.
Feeling footloose and fancy free we decided to tick another box on our impromptu Saturday night bar hop and went in search of Varnish on King. We weren’t too far from King Street and we soon managed to locate this newbie to the Perth bar scene.
All we do all day is source the best food, the best wine and the best whiskey to share with our friends.
There was quite a strong timber smell when we first walked in through the heavy wooden doors and down the stairs into the bar area. Definitely smaller than the Laneway Lounge, but it had a cool vibe to it and was actually playing some great old tunes that could be heard over the din of the crowd. At Varnish their resident mascot is a stuffed beaver called Justin. Yep Justin Beaver…… funny I had known his name was Justin but it was only when Mr R said Justin Beaver that I was like “ohhhh that’s why he’s called Justin”. Haha I’m not the brightest spark sometimes.
This place would indeed be a whisky lovers dream given the impressive range of rye that they have on display, but I actually don’t really like whisky so I ordered a glass of the vino that Justin recommended. It was a nice drop. We managed to find an area for the four of us to perch and it was close to the tables where people were enjoying a late dinner and all the dishes being brought out did look delicious.
Eating there was for another night though and it was only a relatively short visit to Varnish. We finished our drinks and decided that we’d hopped enough bars that night and said our goodbyes and disappeared into the night.
It had been a lot of fun and just highlights the really interesting places that are open in Perth these days. Each having their own niche and offering something different. Plenty of choice and something for everyone. Go Perth!