Once upon a time I was a Terrace worker; strutting my corporate stuff in my suit and sensible 2-inch pumps while dodging Kamikaze-like bike couriers. I had my favourite lunch spots (Posh Nosh and The Secret Garden) but come 5pm on a Friday, we weren’t blessed with a lot of after-work drinking holes on the west end of the Terrace. Your choice was either to lounge at the CBD (the bar attached to Rydges Hotel on Hay Street) or to keep it real at the standing-room-only Rigby’s pub behind the Forrest Centre. It’s little wonder most people migrated over to West Perth for drinkies.
By the time I left the Terrace, someone had the presence of mind to build the Belgian Beer Cafe on Murray Street, and the Box Deli on Hay Street became another little spot to enjoy top-end tipples after work. The development of the Woodside building and plaza a few years ago finally got the mojo happening on the west end and not before time! This part of the world was crying out for some post-5pm excitement that didn’t involve having beer spilt on your leather pumps.
It was friends of ours who actually told us about The George. These days I am so far removed from the comings and goings of the CBD that it took me ages to find out that Perth finally got its first Gucci store. I did know that a number of small bars had sprouted here and there but The George was a real surprise; it’s located pretty much directly opposite where I used to work. The George has set up shop in the former CBA branch at London House; a rather dated old building that has been given a new lease of life (it even has its own website :|).
The George is stylish to the hilt. The fittings and decor are impeccably put together but without a hint of pretentiousness. They’ve even managed to work the old Greco-Roman-style concrete facade that used to be on the outside of London House into their look (at least I’m sure that’s what it is…). This is a bar where you can waltz in and take a seat (if it’s not a Friday or Saturday) without worrying about putting on airs. I can’t think of an appropriate English word for it but it has igokochi (??? – a sense of feeling at home or being comfortable) in spite of its luxuriously appointed interior.
It’s no real surprise that it took a couple of Melburnians to bring the small bar concept to the Terrace. Such bars in Melbourne’s numerous small alleys and laneways have taken off in a huge way over the last five years and it’s about time we pimped up the Perth CBD with some fine small-scale establishments. I’m not sure if small bar is the right term for The George necessarily, given it has a generous rear dining area and function room, but in comparison with the usual monolithic drinking places in Perth (think The Raffles, Steves, The Left Bank etc.), The George is decidedly petite and I like it! Very big city.
If you’re not planning to dine at The George, there is a small tapas menu on offer in the bar area which should satisfy the most voracious of appetites. There are no real surprises on the menu (skewered meat, deep-fried seafood as per Tapas 101) but what’s there is done very nicely. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had better aioli than what came with the panko crumbed prawn. Being a table of four, we decided on the $50 sampler platter which served me very well as it came with four plump oysters (2 x Kilpatric, 2 x au naturel) and I was the only person who enjoyed oysters. Quel Dommage!
The George’s wine list is extensive and there is a good selection of varietals from all over world. Unfortunately, they had run out of our first two preferences but our waiter was quick to make alternative suggestions (we settled with Tiger’s Tale SBS ’09 – a nice, tropical fruit noted drop). Staff were very helpful and friendly (ie – they seemed pretty happy to work there, something that is surprisingly rare these days) and food did not take long to come out.
The George also offers various specials during the week but from what I have heard, it manages to get a good crowd in anyway on most nights, with Friday and Saturday being very popular. Earlybirds would enjoy their breakfast menu and their Lunch Special sounds more than reasonable ($20 lunch with beer/wine). Not to miss out on a trend, The George also does high tea on Saturdays and Sundays which I’m sure The Bestie will be keen to try out some time soon.
Overall, hubby and I will probably try out the other small bar offerings in Perth but The George could easily be the one we’ll keep going back to, especially to meet up with friends (it’s a good mid-point and loads of street parking weeknights). Maybe it’s just as well The George wasn’t around when I worked in the city; I might not have been in such a rush to get home :)
216 St Georges Terrace, Perth 6000
Ph – 08 6161 6662
Twitter – @thegeorgeperth