THE CHOOK is a bit late to the Running with Thieves party.
The South Fremantle brewery/distillery opened in November last year, but the explosion of restaurants in the port city has turned my belt into a tourniquet and I’ve now got Jenny Craig on speed dial.
Thankfully when my wife and I visited Running with Thieves this week, I noticed they had a running club that met in the “carpark beside the tank” on a Saturday morning.
A boozer with a running club – times have seriously changed – next we’ll be swiping our HBF card at the bar. “Two pints and an IV drip, please…”
Running with Thieves is very impressive – a massive warehouse converted into a stylish venue with exposed beams, a huge open plan kitchen and a wall of kegs on one side, creating a natural and appealing vista.
It has the compulsory steel vats looming over the bar and some very stylish copper stills, where I imagine they distill their gin and vodka.
It makes for a lively backdrop with workers pouring technical stuff into vats and plumes of steam rising up towards the cathedral-high ceiling.
The on-site shop was swish and minimalist, selling apparel as well as beer and gin, and it reminded me of an alcoholic version of GAP.
With some lively music pumping away in the background, we checked out the food menu which had a nice mix of share plates including sticky Korean ribs, prawn and chorizo skewers, and potato bravas, as well as standalone dishes like steak sandwich, and grilled squid and chips.
I liked how there were some healthy dishes including a buffalo cauliflower bowl and a huli huli chicken bowl.
The Albany squid and chips ($23) was delicious – the high quality seafood was perfectly grilled with the addition of sumac (lemony Middle Eastern spice) and samphire, adding an exotic twist.
The slaw was a revelation – it had a strong cajun-style flavour and was quite vinegary, almost like a sauerkraut.
Super refreshing and a welcome change from the creamy monstrosities that are usually slopped onto your plate.
My wife’s only gripe – there could have been more chips. You can take the girl out of Geelong and all that…
The Fremantle sardines ($19) were equally impressive – crispy breadcrumbs and a strong fishy punch, while the dainty pickles and dollop of fermented chilli in the toum was genius, maintaining your interest throughout.
The Huli Huli chicken skewers ($16) didn’t hit the same heights.
The chicken was beautifully cooked and lovely and moist, but the seasoning and BBQ mango sauce didn’t really lift the dish.
To be fair, my palate might have been fatigued after the sardines and squid. The portions are really good value in Running with Thieves, so the beef slider ($8) was overkill, but it was a delicious little number crammed with lots of tender brisket and finely cut veggies.
I washed it all down with a pint of limited edition grapefruit riot ($13); a very pleasant hazy IPA, while my wife enjoyed her middy of Fremantle pilsner ($6).
I’m no beer connoisseur but they were very enjoyable.
The brewery also have a kids menu, daily specials, and beer and food deals during the week.
The quality of meals in breweries is definitely on the up, and this was one of the best I’ve had; striking the perfect balance between hearty and refined.
I’ll be back soon to try their gin – maybe in my running shoes and tight shorts.
Running with Thieves
218 Marine Terrace, South Fremantle
by STEPHEN POLLOCK