A party of five hits new Southern Style BBQ joint on King Street for its opening night..
I suppose it's hard to get a real feel for a place on its opening night. We got there at about 7.30pm and the place was packed. We were told a table would take about 20 mins and we could have a drink while we wait. Well, three rounds later and we still hadn't been shown to a table but, to be honest, we didn't mind. The atmosphere at Old Faithful is just plain cool. Bearded barmen (which certainly aren't a rarity these days, but for some reason they seemed to suit Old Faithful better than other places), rows of benches up against the wall opposite the bar and fairly simple decor everywhere else.
It's very clear from the first look at the menu that vegetarians are not welcome here. We had a vegetarian in our party and were very happy to follow Old Faithful's lead and take every opportunity to tease her for being an outcast. The weirdo.
Old Faithful is very much 'fast food' for grownups. The kitchen has a bunch of hot meats and sides on the go. We chose the $70 share plate for 3-5 people and it was ready in minutes. I think we picked an extra three or four sides to keep the exile happy and then got stuck in.
You'll have to forgive the brevity of this review. You see, the food is good. Real good. You need to be willing to lean into the inevitable meat sweats, but if you're ok with that you're gonna have a good time. The meats are great on their own and even better with the BBQ sauces they apparently make themselves.
I didn't get into the side dishes too much (because the Vego was looking pretty sad), but the general consensus was that they too were excellent. While I didn't get to try any of the smoked mushrooms that were apparently quite excellent, I can personally vouch for the potato salad, coleslaw, dill pickles and shaved onions. All excellent compliments to the meat extravaganza main event.
The thing is, as good as the main meal was, the dessert was bad. Real bad. The peanut butter cookies were dry and not all that tasty. I think we left half of them behind when we were finished. The icy pole was literally a $5 icy pole. It tasted ok, I guess? It tasted like an icy pole.
The pecan pie and stout cream wasn't bad but wasn't good either. We all thought the stout ice cream was a novelty - it definitely tasted like beer - but I'm not sure that's a good thing? I wouldn't order it again.
Nothing really to report here. They had a good selection of wines and beers on tap. Prices were reasonable. We liked them.
Service at the bar was really good. It was very very busy and I rarely had to wait too long to get someone's attention. Other than the bar, there is limited service to speak of. We went up to the counter to order our food, and I'm pretty sure we also brought the food back to our bench - so it seems there isn't really any table service to critique.. I may be wrong about the table service (can't quite remember) but it's certainly not a fine dining experience. More akin to a fancy cafeteria with some very nice food and alcohol.
I really like the simple design of the place. It feels very open and stylish. The bathrooms were clean (which you would expect for night one, I suppose). The place has a simple and pleasant vibe to it.
The thing is though it's not really an environment where you sit down and enjoy your dining experience. It's all a bit rushed. It's great that the food comes instantly and it's super great that the food tastes so good. But that means that within 30 mins of sitting down you're stuffed, satisfied and feeling the pressure to move on (which makes me wonder why it took us so long to get seated at our bench).
What all this means is that you end up feeling like Old Faithful is a nice place to stop off as part of a bigger night. Perhaps on the way home from work. Perhaps on the way out to Perth Arena or drinks somewhere else in the city. They've got a prime place and a great concept ready to go for when the Kings Square development is up and running.
But it's not really a place you would go to as an event in of itself.
Which is completely fine and I think a good niche to fill. Not every place needs to do degustation or to get diners to settle in for the night. I think Old Faithful has picked its place in Perth and managed to play its role very well.
It's a real shame about the terrible dessert, though.
7.5 meat sweats out of 10.