bread in common
by Mei Leong
Raspberry, chocolate ice cream and peanut butter mousse. Yes, it tasted as fabulous as it looked.
Pakenham Street, a rather deserted road that deserves far more attention for its gorgeous buildings and untouched vibe, is home to Freo’s newest food destination, Bread in Common. Gorgeous inside, with equally gorgeous food, Bread in Common has a certain ‘Freo’ originality that’s super attractive. It’s not often I really, really want – no need – to visit a restaurant this much. (Though anything with a bakery attached, I am there with bells on…)
The former warehouse has been admirably hollowed out, with its handsome, heritage corrugated iron roof and brickwork making stunning features. Sunshine streams in from above and down below, Edison bulbs swing slowly, illuminating the space. Boxes of West Aussie lemons, potatoes and fruit are proudly strewn about in front of the open kitchen. On the counter are bottles of olive oil and pickles, ready to be scooped up and taken home. But this is not about schlepping dukkah home, this is about eating.
Left: Strung up bulbs light up the dining hall. Very cool. Right: Bread fresh from the oven.
Bakers hard at work. The twin wood fired ovens are at the back of the restaurant, if you go to the loo you will see them. What is that bright white light? A torch, to see where all that bread is going in the pitch black oven.
At the very back of the dining hall are the restaurant’s two wood fired ovens, built right into the wall as if the building came with them. The bakers work throughout the day, laboriously paddling soft dough into the dark ovens. What comes out is a revelation. Every bakery in Freo should be terrified.
Bread is served at $2 a head and at that, it’s a bargain. The sourdough has a toasted almost sooty crust that’s chewy and full of flavour. Inside, it’s bubbly, tender and warm. The baguette has a golden crust with a soft crumb that’s great with the creamy house churned butter. The sides, oil, butter, dips and so forth, if you want them, are ordered separately from the menu, so diners can mix and match or overload with extras (yay). We tried the eggplant and garlic dip, a chunky hash resembling baba ghanouj that wasn’t half bad. Slicked with olive oil, it was fragrant and charred in flavour.
Bread plate at $2 a head. Sides/condiments are ordered separately. Eggplant and garlic dip, $3.50. House churned butter, $0.50.
Is the mason jar craze over yet? No! To the left, banana chia smoothie and the right, watermelon and coconut water smoothie. $10 each.
Okay, so $10 a pop is really pushing it for a freshly squeezed juice (even in Perth) but there’s a reason why Bread in Common’s juicer looks like it’s going to bust a gut. Combinations like banana and chia seed, fabulously fashionable kale and the coconut, watermelon, elderflower and agave syrup smoothie are fresh and are actually pretty good.
As soon as the last of the bread disappeared, the main plates arrived. The pork belly sat on a bed of beans – all sorts of beans in fact. Broad beans, navy beans and string beans were dressed with pan juices and an acidic pineapple chutney. Caramelised, the pork was tender and slightly sweet. However, the vegetables were the highlight. The contrast of textures, from crunchy to fresh and leafy, was made even more satisfying with the rubbery snap of shelled broad beans.
Pork belly, spinach, broad beans, green beans and pineapple salsa, $22.
Salmon, cauliflower, goji berries, dill and fennel, $27.
The poached salmon was more than just a beautiful dish. Giving more than a nod to the raw food trend, the crescent of goji berries, sprouts and almost raw cauliflower was lightly spiced, crumbly and tasted so healthy. All this was anchored by an olive paste that set the stage for the perfectly cooked poached salmon, gently flaked to its translucent heart. The shaved, lemony fennel (first time I have ever liked fennel, maybe I’m getting old) and feathery dill spruced up the dish. This was an impressive dish, showing a perfect balance of flavours with food in its unadorned state.
Like most new places, Bread in Common does have service teething problems. For lack of a better word, the waitress seemed well, quite shitty, with plates slapped down on the table or not arriving at all. Which was quite a contrast from our first visit with another waitress who was just lovely. So it goes to show service is really quite subjective. The first visit was just for coffee, where I promptly fell head first into the sweets menu.
Like art on a plate (the best kind of art – edible), it was gorgeous. A wobbly disc of jammy raspberry jelly, raspberry coulis, chocolate ice cream and crème fraiche were showered with freeze dried raspberries, like a very sweet forest floor. The peanut butter mousse was treading the fine line between sweet and savoury but it was the combo of tart, dry, sweet, jelly, cold, creamy and salty that was heavenly.
Raspberry, chocolate ice cream and peanut butter mousse. I forgot how much it cost.
There always seems to be a queue here, but it moves quickly and is worth waiting for, even just for a coffee (the coffee is half decent). The mood on the floor is electric and for once, it’s more than hype, but enthusiasm for food and this new space. I hope this is the much needed injection into Freo’s west end and hopefully it emulate Little Creatures’ iconic success in the port city.
Bread in Common
43 Pakenham Street, Fremantle WA
T: 08 9336 1032
Sun – Thu 10am – 10pm, Fri – Sat 10am – late
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