Monday, 16 July 2012

Bivouac Canteen & Bar (Perth WA)

198 William St
Northbridge Western Australia 6803
(08) 9227 0883
    Tue-Fri: 12:00 - 22:00

    Sat: 10:00 - 22:00

Bivouac Canteen & Bar on Urbanspoon Bivouac is one of the latest "it" places on William Street and, being so "a la mode", and so close to my work place, there I went, to sniff and taste. My sniffing has turned into a habit, and I have been bivuacking weekly.

Bivouac sounds like the surname of an imaginary Philosopher with Native American and French origins, or the name of an alternative revolutionary hyper-cool austere Art movement. Far from it, the exotic name is not only the name of an American mountain, but most commonly used to describe a military camp and camping tent, which is, indeed, the place's logo - a schematic tent, with an intriguing almost-corporate design bearing the colours of the military uniform. 

Facing Arcade 189, in the heart of William St, Bivouac is indeed a very Spartan place, and the name of canteen perfectly describes what the place is: Uncomplicated simple decoration and settings, undefined style, with nice artwork as the only visual break. The ambience varies depending on the patrons, but is quite relaxed in general, with people of all ages, professions and attitudes, and plenty of groups.

THE COFFEE - My first coffee from Bivouac was a take-away and it was a weak watery concoction I did not like. However, each time I have it in the place, the coffee is creamy, well prepared, medium strength and is good.

THE FOOD - Bivouac offers an interesting, colourful, flavoursome mix of Mediterranean fusion dishes. They have food that will satisfy any big eater, with pizzas, burgers and rolls that are decently sized, filling and full of flavour. The menu is varied and changes regularly, and there are variations from lunch to dinner, too. It reminds me of "Cantina 663", regarding food philosophy, but their menu is more varied and adventurous and the prices a bit more affordable; on the other hand, the place is also less charming and authentic, and their food more "canteeny". There are many tempting things in the menu, and very nice entrees too, plus a small selection of International wines.

The pork sandwich is delicious, with an orgasmic golden crispy juicy piece of pork, tasty pear relish, beetroot and a great mix of textures and flavours. Yummy and satisfying. 

The Vegetarian Gnocchi with pear, blue cheese, walnuts and kale are also lovely with a nice mix of flavours and textures. The Chorizo & Jalapeños Sourdough Pizza was happy hot, and I was so full after lunch that I did not need dinner.  

I have a long list of things that I want to try, which I have seen served to other people and made my juices flow. 

DESSERTS - I was allured by the Spanish Catalan Cream (a sort of crème brûlée). It was nicely presented with a dollop of chocolate mouse. The dessert, however, has too much sugar, and the wonderful flavours get lost and masked by it; the chocolate dollop is very nice, but very rich and thick. I expected my Catalan Cream to be warm all through and the caramelised sugar crust hot just because we are in winter; the differences in temperature from up to bottom were considerable, so I thought it had been reheated from a frozen preparation. I asked the staff, and I was told this is a Spanish dessert and that is the way it is served in Spain (:O)... well, in Spain it is consumed warm or cold depending on the season, the crust being always hot as it is caramelised crusted sugar on the spot. I don't have a problem with them choosing the cold version, just because this is a restaurant, not your house,  but, if that is the case, it is an option not a matter of fact. Do you understand what I am saying?

THE SERVICE - The staff are friendly, smiley, respectful, and eager to help. For example, on one occasion, they had two fully-packed group tables, but I was in my lunch break and short of time, so I told the waitress so, and she was very helpful, and I got my food in less than ten minutes. It was such a nice detail. 

THINGS TO IMPROVE - 1/  I would remove rocket or greens easily perishable from the sides, as it is never appealing finding your greens looking a bit "mushy".
2/ The olives are OK but not worth the 7$ we pay for them. Reduce the price or provide a better selection of olives. 
 3/ Improve your take-away coffee. If you know how to prepare your coffee, why do you downgrade it for take-away? 
4/ Too much sugar in a dessert makes a bad dessert, so remember that golden rule when making yours. :O

If you are in a hurry, hungry, and not fussy about what you want to eat, ask the waitress for the quickest options to prepare in the kitchen, and you will be served faster. 

Location: 8/10
Layout: 6.5
Ambience (lunch) 6.5 
Pricing: 6.5
Desserts: 7.5
Coffee: 7.5  (takeaway/in)
Service: 9/10

UPDATE 20/9/2012
 I returned today to Bivouac for lunch, and had one of those wonderfully delicious moist flavoursome and textured Pork Sandwiches that caught my attention the first time I visited the place. You haven't tried it yet? Really? Well, if that is the case, you are missing on one of the best sandwiches you can taste in Perth CBD at the moment. No kidding. Orgasmic. No photo, sorry, the view was too good to waste any time and had to put it right into my belly. 

UPDATE 20/3/2013
Bivouac is one of those places that keeps me going back for the right reasons - Food! Good food. Changing menu. Light or heavy dishes, and a nice selection of drinks.

Their new autumn menu is just delicious and more sophisticated than ever. The new Gnocchi recipe, the mouth watering yoghurt-based panna cotta, and the Tunisian Lamb with a yummy house-made flat bread are a proof of it.

Still, the place is pricey. If I eat all what I need to fill in my stomach, I spend 50 bucks. Which, on the other hand, are always well spent.

I love the fact that they are open most of the day, so you can drop to eat something anything you fancy.

Service is great.


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