Rising in place of the late, and not that lamented The Shed, in Aberdeen Street are two new bars for Perth – the Skye Bar and the Hidden Bar.
Entering the Hidden Bar off Aberdeen, a garden area – with water feature and an interesting “car seat” is the first indication that things have changed from the Shed days.
Then on into a covered patio area with one side of an L shaped bar, high benches and stools, tables and chairs, a mix of mismatched furniture – couches, lounge chairs – and a couple of large patio heaters to take away the chill of these cool nights.
An archway, with Hidden Bar inscribed above, leads through to a dimly lit “club’ area – Chesterfields and low tables, a piano or two, large gilt framed mirrors on the walls, an old gramophone, even an escritoire, hanging gas heaters, and the longer side of the bar.
It is all quite moody and different from the outer area.
Interestingly, at the far end, the dim lights are banished by an area of couches sitting under spotlights – I guess for those who just can’t resist the limelight.
Music plays in the background and videos of the singers and bands are displayed on the numerous screens around the place. The music is not jarring or intrusive – when we were there we heard Genesis, Van Morrison, Eagles, Beatles, Richard Marx, Shocking Blue, with the odd appearance of Bernard Fanning and Justin Timberlake – it is all smooth and adds a comfortable background, for my taste anyway.
There is a small wine list – but with some interesting wines making an appearance – among the reds we saw Alkoomi Cabernet Merlot, Kingston Estate Petit Verdot, a Spanish tempranillo and an Italian from the Valpolicella region; whites included Naked Grape SSB, an Italian Pinot Grigio and Ashbrook Verdelho.
It was a bit of a surprise to see Mateus rosé listed but thankfully there was also The Pawn El Desperado from South Australia, and it was that wine we ordered.
Made from sangiovese grapes from the Adelaide Hills, this has a pale salmon hue with a lifted nose showing hints of raspberry and rose petals. Good acid, with some savoury, herbal notes, this is a crisp, dry wine, suited for food and all by itself.
Turning to the food, the menu lists pub grub favourites such as ribs, steak sandwich, chicken parmigiana, fish and chips as well as some tapas style bites – lemon pepper calamari, seared beef and salad, smoked salmon and cucumber roulade, chicken and pork kebabs, and nachos. We chose off the tapas menu ordering the calamari, tempura prawns and a potato mojos.
The calamari was served in a wire basket with sweet potato chips and a side salad; the calamari was very tender indeed, although for my taste a little lacking in spice – but my lunching companion had no complaints as he consumed it with gusto.
Prawns in a light batter were also served in a wire basket, and were accompanied by a salad and sweet chilli sauce. Tender and sweet flesh, good batter, some spicy notes, and sweet chilli to provide more zip – it was a sound pub dish. Chilli rather than sweet chilli would have helped, but that is my taste, perhaps not others.
Potato mojos, basically, oven baked wedges in a spicy coating, were perhaps a touch overcooked, but had good flavour for all that.
With the engaging Bridget overseeing the Hidden Bar this looks too be a step up from its predecessor, has good ambience, aimed at the over 25 set I am told (that certainly includes me), the food is reasonable, some pretty good choices on the small drinks list, it is another option when visiting Northbridge.
(At the front of the building another renovation is underway to set up a coffee lounge cum made to order sandwich joint in the Irish style– Mother Hubbard’s – which will open into the patio area and add another string to the bow of the bar.)