On Friday night we decided to try the newly opened The Village Bar in Subiaco. What was previously the Ess Bar, The Village has been recently renovated and is located at the bottom of Hay Street Subiaco. The owners have been brave enough to set up shop in what we affectionally term ‘a dead zone’. You know the kind, every suburb has one, a retail space that is consistently ‘under new management’ or ‘newly refurbished’ and every business ends up closing its doors after six long, agonising months. However, judging by the crowd on Friday night it seems like The Village Bar might just have made this corner spot in the Subiaco Village precinct work.
As soon as we got out of the car we knew that The Village Bar had broken the hoodoo as the voices of happy patrons filled the air. Unfortunately as we approached the noise got louder and louder AND LOUDER! Basically our first impressions of the bar was that it was NOISY!!!! In fact, so noisy that after a walk around the entire bar looking for a slightly quieter spot where we could have dinner and a drink we actually debated leaving. Now noise is probably a welcome sound to the owners and manager but to be honest there didn’t seem to be a reason for this level of noise other than possible poor design because whilst the place was busy it wasn’t so packed to warrant that level of noise.
Having decided to stay we were quickly shown a table and given menus by wait staff. The menu has lots of options, catering from snacks to ‘something to share’ to main meals and even dessert. We ordered a range of snacks and at least this customer was impressed by the fact that they didn’t call it ‘tapas’ like most other establishments.
The snacks were all around $8 and between four we had chips, a salad, brocolini and asparagus, oven roasted mushrooms and one of the share plates ($26). With our food we enjoyed a nice bottle of Wills Domain semillon sauvignon blanc ($37); by the glass most wines were about $8.50 which is on par, if not a little cheaper, than most bars of the same ilk.
Whilst we enjoyed both drink and food there was still the noise issue. It just doesn’t make it for a great dining experience when you’re having to yell at each other or drape yourself over the table in order to hear what the person next to you is saying. And more than once I spared a thought for the poor bar staff who I’m sure must have had real difficulty hearing people’s orders.
Take a look at their website and you’ll quickly understand the look and feel they’re going for: a replication of a quaint British or German village bar. It’s a pretty tough ask considering that the bar is actually surrounded on most sides by carparks but overall they’ve managed to create a space inside that makes you forget its location. However, at the moment The Village Bar feels a bit more like The Vic or the Brass Monkey as opposed to Kitsch and The Garden which I think is what the owners are aiming for.
Case in point is that one of the bar staff came over to our table soon after we placed our order to ask if we wanted to pose for a photo that would appear on their website. She walked past several other groupings and customers without pausing to take their photo before arriving at our table. Considering that I was dining with my 26 year old girlfriend, her 20 year sister and her friend (also 20) who all looked quite stylish and that the average customer was a 30-40 year old man in jeans, it leaves little doubt as to whom their ideal audience is.
The Village Bar in Subiaco has lots of potential and we will be back but probably on a midweek night when we’re hoping it won’t be as busy and therefore we might actually hear each other.
And for the record, we declined the photo opportunity.