DURING the past decade Pakenham Street in Fremantle has been revitalised by food, arts and short stay venues.
It all started when Bread In Common opened in 2013, setting the bar for high quality cuisine in an old repurposed building.
Pakenham Street Art Space quickly followed, then Cos Baby, Jungle Bird, Quest Apartments and more recently Republic of Fremantle at the Phillimore Street-end.
The latest addition is Old Faithful Bar and BBQ, located in the basement of 1 Pakenham Street.
The building was constructed in 1897 during the gold rush boom for Tolley and Company, a wine and liquor merchant.
It’s a cool and fitting backstory, and you can literally feel the history oozing out the old brick walls as you enter via
“Distribution Lane” – where they used to roll the kegs into the storerooms – before you descend a flight of stairs into the atmospheric basement.
The venue has a bit of a gothic vibe with large candles, a pulpit and the odd animal skull punctuating the brick walls.
The gorgeous bar was state-of-the-art with an impressive range of wines and spirits, and widescreen TVs listing the 32 beers available.
I couldn’t see any beer pumps on the counter, so I asked the barman which ones were on tap.
He proudly smiled and pointed at a huge tap installation on the wall – “All 32 of them. We’ve got the most beers on tap in Freo.”
Thirty two varieties is a monumental effort and is sure to keep craft beer lovers entertained for months on end.
Old Faithful specialise in “low and slow” American BBQ food including a nice range of burgers, wings, BBQ, and snacks and sides.
Highlights included the 100g beef brisket (house rub, 12 hour brine and 12 hour smoke), the lamb ribs (6 hour braise with sherry mint sauce) and the 100g pulled pork (12 hour brine and 36 hour smoke)
It was the perfect venue for my dining partner Jambo and I – two middle-aged blokes who still think “Smashed Avocado” is the name of a Mexican wrestler.
We opted to share the baby back ribs ($30), chicken wings ($15) and fries ($6).
It wasn’t long before our meatasaurus arrived on a large tin tray – this was caveman country with no cutlery, chia seeds or jam jar glasses in sight.
The chargrilled pork was amazingly tender and fell off the bone, while the thick, sticky BBQ sauce kept things tangy and lip-lickingly good.
The ribs had been smoked for four hours, which was right on the money for me (not too strong).
The full rack was big and perfect for sharing, unless your Boss Hogg.
The 10 chicken wings were plump and juicy, with the succulent chook tasting delicious when dipped in the tub of smoked jalapeño sauce ($2).
You could choose different flavours for the wings, including Louisiana hot, regretfully hot, and a lemon pepper dry rub, but we played it safe and went for the BBQ with ranch, which was nice when combined with the additional jalapeño.
All in all, these were great wings crammed with flavour.
The shoestring fries had an exotic house rub and the smoked salt gave them a unique flavour.
We washed down the meal with a sophisticated pilsner, which had traces of Japanese rice wine.
It was a refreshing interlude from the smoky feast, and made me want to go back and try the other 31 brews on offer.
Old Faithful Bar and BBQ is another high quality addition to Pakenham Street, giving locals a good variety of dining options.
Old Faithful Bar and BBQ
1 Pakenham Street, Fremantle
by STEPHEN POLLOCK