Thursday, July 23, 2009

399 Bar

Sunday 16 July 2009

399 Bar
399 William Street,
(08) 9328 8006

1. Comfort & Surroundings

Alexander: I think it's important to highlight at the outset that 399 Bar is not your typical breakfast café. First and foremost, it's a bar that also serves coffee, but with an opening time of 10am on weekends in a nod to early-morning types. It adapts to the breakfast venue vibe pretty well with a tempting coffee aroma and large booth seating, but its layout with a ubiquitous view of the bar and spirits shelf means that you're under no illusion as to where you are at all times. That's not necessarily a bad thing; I'm sure there are lots of people out there who will be excited by the prospect of somewhat edgier and grittier breakfast venue. It's probably not the most child-friendly venue in town, but if you do want to bring one, there are three inexplicable high chairs that will keep your kid at eye level with the bar at all times. Now that's good parenting. 3 from me.

399 Bar has popped up as a result of Western Australia’s new small bar licences and the product is a refreshing addition to the breakfast, and presumably evening, scenes. The bar is up the north end of William Street and, rather than juxtaposing the dreggy area, it embraces the grungy aesthetic. At the same time, 399 manages to remain clean and modern with its inviting booths, open plan and fresh fit out. After sampling another of the new small bars the night before, trudging into 399 was a fitting start to the morning and its relaxed and knowing atmosphere allowed us to wake up slowly. Points off only because the wide open doors made for a windier, chillier time than I would have liked, and the grandness of the booths means that had we come an hour later we would have shared our space with others, not the most desirable set up in a space that is otherwise so attractive to those waking up feeling a little seedy. 3.5.

2. Service

Alexander: Being seated within one metre of the bar at all times means that you don't have to go far out of your way to make an order. And you'll be happy to know that you get the cool, mild indifference from the staff that you'd expect from someone working behind a bar, but with a slightly more attentive vibe given that you're not shouting an order over loud music and a throng of other people. In keeping with the theme, we were brought two glasses of water without having to ask - but they came after we'd finished our meals. This sums up the service at 399 Bar perfectly; there's nothing to complain about, but they're not going out of their way to impress you. Which is probably how it should be. I'm going with 3.

Lola: Agreed. While the staff embodied the laid back vibe fitting for a bar in the morning, they were suitably attentive and polite. They did not have the sluggishness of having been out on the turps themselves, yet they were not disproportionately perky either. They settled into the surroundings perfectly and warrant a 3.5 from me.

3. Tastiness

Alexander: You get two food choices at 399 Bar: the "Bloody Bacon" or nothing. Let me explain. Food is not 399 Bar's specialty, but as an acknowledgment to hungry people, they have included one breakfast food item on the menu: a Bloody Mary/bacon & egg roll combo for $15. And if you keep in mind the context and don't mind the lack of choice, it's pretty good. Sure, the roll could be toasted and the fillings were a little undercooked for my taste but, in combination with the Bloody Mary (more on that below), it went down a treat. Plus, it's the ultimate hangover food for people who were at 399 Bar the night before and want to come back the next morning for more. Another 3 from me.

Lola: I really enjoyed this no fuss approach to morning ordering. Although it wouldn’t be my choice every Sunday, I think it’s ideal for the venue. 399 Bar also serve lunch and dinner, offering one option for each meal that changes daily. I really dig this idea! Like Alexander, I would have preferred my roll slightly toasted or warmed, but you can’t expect too much fuss here. I’m giving it a 3 as well.

4. Drinks

Alexander: Being a bar, the drinks category is 399 Bar's time to shine. And I wasn't disappointed. Lola and I took the opportunity to review two drinks again at this breakfast and both were of a high standard. I started with a cappuccino that was of a better quality than a lot of cappuccinos I've had from "coffee specialists". Then, as foreshadowed above, it was time for the Bloody Mary. I enjoyed it as the perfect accompaniment to the food - spicy and savory with cracked black pepper and a celery stick. I'm giving the drinks a 4.

Lola: A 4.5 from me, an extra half a point being awarded for the novelty of the Bloody Mary. What a perfect idea! My hot chocolate was, like Alexander’s cappuccino, above the standard of many cafés I’ve visited and the Bloody Mary was delicious. The staff really know what they are doing here.

5. Fiscal Matters

Alexander: The "Bloody Bacon" combo was $15, which is pretty reasonable considering you are paying upwards of that price just for meals at most breakfast venues. The coffee was very reasonably priced as well. However, despite the value for money, I can't give this a huge score because the lack of options means that there isn't really something for everyone. 3 from me.

Lola: I was more impressed by the value for money and am awarding a 4. I thought $15 was extremely reasonable, particularly compared with other local breakfast venues. If you're scraping your pennies together after a big night out, 399 Bar is definitely an option for morning nourishment. I look forward to returning on an evening before too long.

The verdict...

Comfort & Surroundings: 6.5/10
Service: 6.5/10
Tastiness: 6/10
Drinks: 8.5/10
Fiscal Matters: 7/10
TOTAL: 34.5/50

399 Bar on Urbanspoon

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