Food / Review / Wine

The Flour Factory

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The Flour Factory is the new concept bar on Queen street occupying the old Venn Bar space. Based on the name and the light description of “bakery and charcuterie” I figured I was probably going to be in for a rough and gluten-filled night, but what we found was ridiculously up my alley. Can you think of anywhere else with a vermouth menu? I can’t.

The name is an homage to the building’s origins as a flour mill and the sleek-industrial aesthetic carries the vibe with exposed joists from the crane in the ceiling and polished concrete floors. Not much has changed in appearance between Venn Bar and the Flour Factory – they even kept the ‘fragile’ female sign on the bathroom which has always irritated me really an unreasonable amount. The name can get confusing though – at least three people thought I’d stumbled into a florists’ by mistake.

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The menu emphasises cold cuts and grazing, with home-made and imported charcuterie and a selection of local and international cheeses. More substantial hotdogs and and desserts round things out. While the menu feels light if you’re expecting a three-course meal, it excels where predecessor Venn Bar missed the mark. It works neatly around the limitations of kitchen constraints and is so good at it’s cold menu that you’ll never notice.
The temptation to order one of everything is huge, but we started with the prosciutto di San Daniele ($14, 40g) and house-made bresaola ($9, 30g). Slight sidetrack: I get super excited whenever I see bresaola on a menu anywhere.  It’s a thinly sliced cured beef originating from the Valtellina in northern Italy, available on every menu in that part of the world and pretty much none in this. Three weeks ago I was eating it every day and now I’m in withdrawal. So I was super excited about this! Possibly a little too excited, as the flavour was lighter than the Italian version, but still tasty. The San Daniele was flawless, as always.

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Next up, the house-made chorizo ($10, 50g) and lambcetta ($8, 20g). I am super into this house-made charcuterie concept! The chorizo was a tad dry, but could have just been the way we had it cooked on the day rather than the sausage itself. The lambcetta is a very neat Australian twist on an Italian classic and definitely worth checking out. All the cured meats come with a selection of house pickles, mustard and bread so you can mix-and-match flavours. We’d also recommend getting some sparkling water so you can get the best out of the tastes – the effort that went into the product and the sleek presentation made us wish they came issued with a palate cleanser.

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We also tried the fuet anise ($10, 30g), salchichon ($10, 30g), house-made pancetta ($8, 30g) and perla nera al tartufo ($9). The fuet anise – a Catalonian salami with whole fennel seeds – was easily my favourite. The perla nera al tartufo is a lovely, slightly sweet and subtly truffle-infused sheep’s-milk cheese from (surprise!) Italy. It’s expertly balanced and seriously worth a try.

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By this point we had managed to spend about $80 on meat alone and were still pretty hungry. The menu is really cleverly-constructed when it comes to price – the house-made products are neatly priced lower than the rest of the charcuterie section, but most of them are also smaller portions. R and I ordered a hotdog each to fill up the rest of our stomach space while TBP eyed off dessert. The choripan ($13) and fish dog ($14.5 + $1.50 for gluten free) felt as though they hit their price point perfectly with plenty of flavour and plenty of food. Smoked mackerel is a family tradition so I was pretty excited to see a fish-hot-dog on a menu.

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The cake was moist, and a solid chocolate cake. However, it was just that, a chocolate cake. The mint leaves, and the mint mouse and the mint aero were all amazing, but I felt they should have been more prominent, instead of an solid chocolate cake being the base. However the mint was fresh and delicious and the mouse was delicious. The aero was great, but it had a bicarb-y after taste, which I suspect was used to make the bubbles – but overall it did have a chocolate mint taste. I did enjoy it, but not $16 enjoyed it. Maybe $8 enjoyed it. – TBP

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I really liked The Flour Factory. The menu really couldn’t have had more of my keywords on it, the space is beautiful, and the service is knowledgeable and charming. The La Gioisa prosecco ($45) we tried was fantastically drinkable but I think the real strength of the drinks menu is the focus on vermouth and aperitivi, a niche which as far as I know no-one else in Perth is really filling. I am seriously jonesing for Europe and The Flour Factory really hits that spot for me. I feel like the key to getting the best out of it, like so many places, is in your expectations – for an afternoon of grazing, a light lunch, an aperitivo on the way to dinner it is just perfect. But if you’re looking for an entire dinner – at least with the current menu – you are probably going to empty your pockets before you fill your stomach.

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