Freo manna

IT’S ironic that the oldest synagogue in WA is now a Fremantle pub with pork belly on the menu.

What’s next – a boutique hotel at the Round House?

“Would sir like smashed avocado and deconstructed gruel for breakfast?”

Like a slightly overweight Moses, I parted a sea of tourists and secured a table in the Arbor beer garden in The Old Synagogue on South Terrace.

The Fremantle venue opened in November and has four restaurants/pubs catering for different tastes and budgets.

There’s an Asian fusion restaurant (Tonic and Ginger), a beer garden (The Arbor), a breakfast-style joint (Mr Chapple) and a cocktail bar (L’Chaim).

The Arbor menu had a good range of pub classics and for those wanting something more adventurous there were mains like corned beed with mustard soubise and confit potato ($26), and gold band snapper with cucumber and grape tabouli ($30).

I went for the half boneless Portuguese spiced chicken ($22) in the “charcoal” section.

My dining buddy Jambo went for that endearing pub classic – the chicken parmi ($24).

As we waited for our meal, I glanced around at the slightly rote greenery, wood panels and furnishings.

I’ve been to the Arbor twice since it opened and while the decor and ambience is pleasant, it can feel a bit corporate cookie-cutter.

It’s early days though and like a gauche teenager, I’m sure its personality will emerge with time.

It wasn’t long before a member of the bar staff plonked down our meals.

My tender, juicy chicken had delicious chargrilled edges and a lovely smoky reprise.

It wasn’t too spicy, but had enough joie de vivre to jolt my tastebuds into life.

I couldn’t get enough of the moreish fries which had a satisfying crunch and weren’t greasy.

The bold master stroke in this dish was the coriander garnish – it went beautifully with the chicken and kept my palate interested until the last mouthful.

My only niggle: there wasn’t a little salad on my plate.

Jambo’s chicken parmi was a monster: “It was tender, juicy and had plenty of flavour. The crumb was nice and crispy and the ham, sugo, mozzarella topping was fresh and complemented the dish. The chips were also perfectly cooked; very tasty and not greasy. My only slight negative was the green leaves as they felt like an afterthought. If there had been a nice salad with dressing it would have been a more balanced dish.”

We finished our chook marathon with some Korean fried chicken wings ($16).

They were like the crack cocaine of beer snacks: insanely addictive with a sweet plum and szechuan batter.

At the very least, a pub meal should be tasty and substantial.

The Arbor ticked those boxes and had enough culinary twists and turns to transcend the myriad of bar meals served across Perth.

Well worth a visit for a superior pub lunch.

The Arbor (The Old Synagogue)
92 South Terrace, Fremantle

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