Bread In Common is another one of those hyper-cool eateries that has sprung up within Perth in recent years and I have been keen to try it out for a while now. Tucked into the West End of Fremantle, Bread In Common sits next to the University of Notre Dame and is a short walk from seaside eateries such as Little Creatures, and a hop step and a jump away from the (now purple, apparently?) cafe strip. This pocket of Fremantle is in my view one of Western Australia's real treasures and one day I hope to become a squillionnaire and retire to live in a hyper-snazzy renovated old building out that way.
We didn't book, but rather walked down from Little Creatures at about 3pm for a late lunch / early dinner type experience.
I wish we didn't - people say you should never meet your heroes.
To start with, since we were at Bread In Common after all, we thought we would be original and get some of the bread to start with. What a rookie error. Bread In Common charges its customers $2 per piece of bread (which, as you can see in the photo, are fairly conservative slices, making the overall coast per loaf somewhere around $20 I'm guessing??) along with $3.50 for a small bowl of dukkah and another $0.50 for a bowl of olive oil. To be clear, Bread In Common will charge you $0.50 for a small bowl of olive oil.
We paid $16 for the six of us to begin our meal with half a slice of bread each.
I may as well end the review there because I'm still struggling to get my head around how that happened.
The dishes that came out after that were for the most part quite enjoyable but far, far too small for the price. They would have been small as individual dishes but as I understand it they're all intended to be shared? Just what market is Bread In Common targeting, exactly? Their food is so expensive and so overpriced, they seem to be going after the very niche 'three bites that will be $40 please' market.. Why are the Freo hippies and ND students supporting this?!
We ordered some oysters which were fresh and enjoyable. We also ordered some sort of flowery dish, which looked very pretty, but was essentially floral items with some pesto and 9 pieces of baked ricotta. Perhaps Madam Rabbit was happy with it but I thought it sucked.
To be fair, we also ordered the tuna dish which was very very good. Everyone that tried it wanted more - it very nice. We also enjoyed the pork belly dish, which was served in a quite sweet sauce. The Rose Gold Boyfriend Experience (who now wishes to be known as 'Dragon') didn't like the pork belly as it it didn't come out with a crispy skin on it and was almost soggy. While that's true, I didn't mind the lack of crust and thought the flavours worked well.
At the risk of repeating myself here, I will start by saying: expensive. Otherwise, they were all ok.
A good selection of beers and I enjoyed my gin and tonic. Marmite seemed to enjoy the wine selection and no-one had any real comments.
Rose Gold did mention however that her 'Rhubarb Soda' (non-alcoholic mocktail type potion) was gross and in the end no-one wanted to finish it for her.
Service was poor. We originally walked in and milled around on couches at the entryway because we weren't sure if we should seat ourselves or wait to be seated. Eventually a lady came up to us to take our drink order and when we asked if we could also get something to eat she seemed outright annoyed when we indicated we would prefer to sit at a bench rather than balance the share plates on our laps.
I'm also a little bit annoyed the serving lady we had at the benches didn't mention to us that each dish was intended to be eaten by ants and therefore we should have chosen a few more things to share - but perhaps being mindful of how ridiculously overpriced the menu is she was trying to do us a favour.
For all the criticisms above, I concede that they have really nailed the look of the place. I loved the general feel and amenity. I am a sucker for heritage buildings that have been jazzed up inside to look industrial and cool (a pet peeve of mine is when a couple on Grand Designs has an excellent old building and no money to do it up right!) and this place was spot on. Huge plus for the feel of the place - if only every other element to the restaurant wasn't such a let down.
A minor comment but the male bathroom was a bit messy and could have benefited from someone coming in to at least take the bin out - which wouldn't be a major drama except Bread In Common wants to be the kind of restaurant that charges $16 for bread and oh my god I'm just thinking about it again now and I can't believe they did that what the hell are they thinking?!
So, so, so disappointing. This place has a rating of 83% on Urbanspoon and is the second most talked about place in Perth right now. What the hell? Perhaps we went in with unduly high expectations, but as far as I'm concerned this place embodies everything that is wrong with the Perth dining scene right now - rude and opportunistic menus. The food overall is good - but the service and the extreme prices mean that you really must throw out any self respect before dining there.
At the end of our 'mains' we all agreed we didn't want to support their business any further. We left and picked up ice cream from down the road instead of ordering dessert.
Incredibly overpriced. An extreme let-down. Bread in Common made me angry and the management should feel bad about it.
5 small bowls of olive oil (that will be $2.50, thanks) out of 10
EDIT: I should note that after writing this review, Mr and Ms Foodie went to Bread In Common and had quite a pleasant morning there. They ordered a simple toasted sandwich and some coffees and found it all to be quite nice.
I suppose that makes sense, because the ambience of the place is lovely and the food itself is quite good. But what lets it down in my view is the extreme price-gouging and small portions.
In any event - it's worth pointing out that they went there for a somewhat different meal / experience and found it to be decent.
EDIT #2: An update on the bread kafuffle - We have been told that Bread In Common in fact charges $2 per person for all you can eat bread! Which means, when you think about it, $2 per person was more like the cost of admission to a bread experience...
Except our experience didn't make it past the first half slice.. Perhaps due to the poor service, or perhaps because we finished our $3.50 pot of dukkah too quickly and therefore they assumed we wouldn't want anymore bread until we ponied up for some more ancillaries.
In any event, if this bread mystery is resolved we will be sure to update further.