A ‘Bivouac’ is a temporary campsite designed for rest and recuperation.
Owner Anthony Princi and his team came up with the name of the Perth hotspot to reflect a meeting point amongst the hustle and bustle where friends and colleagues can gather in a relaxed casual environment.
The concept for Bivouac originated during a visit to Melbourne in 2011 as Princi remembers it – “bunkered up in the “The Blackman” Art Series Hotel in St Kilda to be precise”.
“We were working on a concept that was a little forward thinking for Perth at the time. We wanted to create share plates based on the “mezze” culture of the eastern Mediterranean, cheeky cocktails that drew reference to classics but were completely original and boozy brunches that kicked off after big weekend nights.
“It was all loosely based on amazing dining experiences we had in Tokyo, New York, Sydney and Melbourne. The internal aesthetic and decor was a shift away from the exposed brick and graffiti style that was quite prominent at the time, we were looking to lend a nod to the art galleries and cultural precinct that we found ourselves in and went with gallery style whitewash walls and little or no branding.”
They also use the dining room wall to showcase local up and coming artists, some of whom it is the first time they exhibit any work.
Princi explains that Bivouac was part of the first wave of new venues under the Metropolitan Redevelopment Scheme, which commenced around 2010.
“Perth has undergone a revolution in the last few years particularly in Northbridge and the city with the renewal of the Perth Cultural Centre, William Street and the Terrace.
“The second wave of venues are pushing forward and we can’t wait to see what’s next!”
The head chef at Bivouac is Zaki Anwar, who heads up the team consisting of Michael Mackenzie and Neil Waldron.
According to Princi they are constantly researching and testing new flavours to try and bring something new and delicious to the table. He says their recent focus has been trying new cooking techniques to create texture and balance.
“The menu is so dynamic we can often have a complete menu change in the course of a month, so its a continual process with front of house sitting in on tastings providing important feedback,” explains Princi.
“Perth is hot and dry for most of the year so we get a chance to showcase fresh and vibrant flavours, although secretly we absolutely love the flavour of winter where we get a chance to work with slow braises and warming spicy dishes.
“As owners being passionate foodies we take pleasure in research trips, bringing back ideas and concepts for chef so we feel like we have important input also.”
At Bivouac they only use locally sourced seasonal ingredients, including produce from the Princi family farm in Gingin, which is about an hour north of Perth.
The farm boasts goats, organic pork and beef. They also use sustainable West Australian along with in-season fruit and vegetables.
“We are always looking to innovate so we’ve used recovered beach samphire, bush tucker quandong and wild caught camel and blended them into a contemporary middle eastern setting.
“Same goes for our booze selections, using single vineyard, low yield and minimal intervention wines principally from WA and Australia.
“We also tend to show small batch craft beers and locally distilled spirits (like the amazing Maidenii Vermouths out of Victoria).”
Some of the most popular dishes on the current menu include The Mechoui Dry rubbed Gingin Goat Chops paired with fig and fennel chutney, the Handmade Slaughtermans Gnocchi with Slow Braised Beef Cheek Ragu and Orange Pine nut Gremolata and the Grilled Halloumi, Chermoula Roasted Eggplant, Pomegranate & Verjus Dressing.
Some of the favoured cocktails include the Thom, which is based around a whiskey sour with a chilli saffron syrup and coriander, The Maidenii Negroni with Melbourne Gin Co. gin and Maidenii Vermouth and The Jerry’s Got Scurvy, which takes Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum and smashes it up with fresh lime, apple cider vinegar, agave and cucumber.
Princi says he prefers cocktails that have balance, are not too sweet and utilise savoury elements so they can be paired with food.
“I like to choose wines with length and good structure so the flavour carries into your next bite, that’s where the magic happens (and make sure white wines are served toward room temperature not cold straight out of the fridge).
“With beers I’m really enjoying dark ales, porters and stouts for their rich nutty characteristics and ability to create some smoke and crunch.”
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