One thing I appreciate about Australia is its willingness to preserve the past — good or bad. Take, for example, The Stables Bar, a popular restaurant and bar built in the refurbished landmark residence and stables of 19th Century businessman Jonathon Butterworth.
The bar, tucked away in a cobblestone courtyard of the tiny Hay Street lane way in Perth’s Central Business District, is the perfect location if you want to drink outdoors on a warm night. When I went for an early dinner, the two-story bar was packed with after-work happy hour drinkers enjoying a beer or cocktail in the outdoor courtyard with strings of light bulbs or the second-floor deck with a view of the city skyline.
The dining room where I was seated had the masculine charm of a Colonial library, and like I read in many of the local reviews, the service was friendly and welcoming, making me feel like I was just going to my buddies’ home to drink and eat.
The menu has a nice mix of bar food and dinner entrees, and for the first time during my trip I wasn’t facing sticker-shock with the prices. Many of the small plates were reasonably priced, and even the dinner entrees were comparable to San Francisco, including dishes like braised lamb shank (AUS$26 or $24.15) and whole roasted chicken (AUS$29 or $26.90).
Like what I do back home sometimes when I’m drinking alone at the bar, I created a nice meal with a few appetizers, which actually came close together one after the other to my table. I downed my food with a glass of Little Creatures Pale Ale (AUS$9 or $8.35), a popular Australian beer made in Fremantle, which I had visited earlier in the day.
To eat, I ordered a couple of daily specials, including the seared yellow fin tuna with cracked wheat and crispy white bean salad, AUS$16 or $14.85, which were chunky bites of tuna (still raw in the center) on a huge bed of the white bean and cracked wheat salad, and a plate of five-spiced crispy quail with capsicum relish, AUS$16 or $14.85. I liked how the quail was pan-fried to the right crispness, but I didn’t really detect a strong five-spice flavor.
I rounded out my meal with some vegetables, ordering a side of panzanella salad (AUS$8 or $7.40) that offered up the freshness of tomatoes and cucumbers.
The Last Bite
While the food might not be especially fancy, they work perfectly with a cold glass of beer. And with the festive vibe and welcoming staff, The Stables Bar is the type of no-fuss neighborhood spot I would drop in often and make myself a regular if I only lived in Perth.
Rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps
The Stables Bar, 888 Hay St., Perth, Western Australia. PH: +61(08)6314-1300. Open Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to late; closed Sunday. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. www.thestablesbar.com.au
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