I’m in my second year of food blogging and still get surprised when people like my Facebook page or leave a comment on a post, let alone receiving invites to openings or events. One of my recent invitations was to the opening of Print Hall, the new four-storey food and wine precinct within Brookfield Place, which opens officially to the public this Tuesday the 25th of September 2012.
The Colonial Leisure Group, a Port Melbourne-based company that owns The Royal, The Raffles and the Colonial Brewing Company in Margaret River, was the company behind the restoration of the old Newspaper House. It would have been a massive project of restoring a heritage-listed site (I know a bit about this since my recent obsession with Grand Designs!) and then turning it into a landmark bar and restaurant venue over four levels.
When A and I walked in, I was shocked at the enormous hall we entered. I had researched the venue beforehand, but wasn’t prepared for the amount of enormity of the venue. The ground floor opens up to an expansive open plan bar area that has a large circular bar in the middle of the floor and a vertical garden adding a bit of greenery to the venue. Looking up, you can see the balcony of the first floor as well as remnants of the old building – old-school light fittings and grand columns. The end result is a grand space that has an art deco flare.
On the first floor, there is a balcony all around the edge that looks down to the ground floor. There is another bar and seating area to one side of the floor. On the other side, there is The Daily Bar and Eating House, a modern Asian restaurant that houses great little booths under stacks of newspapers.
My favourite part of the Print Hall venue was the Rooftop Bar, named ‘Bob’s Bar’ (after Bob Hawke). It’s a huge area that has lots of wooden benches and cushions, high tables as well as a food prep area within the centre of the floor. The rooftop bar also overlooks the original ‘The West Australian’ neon sign. Even though it was a chilly night, the rooftop bar was bustling with people throughout the evening and the vibe was electric.
On the night, we were greeted at the bar with the wait staff offering glasses of NV Bollinger ‘Special Cuvee’ champagne, 2010 Dandelion Vineyards Riesling, 2010 Fraser Gallop ‘Parterre’ Chardonnay, 2011 Ad Hoc ‘Cruel Mistress’ Pinot Noir, 2011 Carpe Diem Sangiovese and Colonial Kolsch and Pale Ale beer. A and I chose a glass each of the Bollinger champagne and made our way around the side of the ground floor, eventually stumbling across the large window which overlooks the kitchen area. I spent a bit of time peering in, watching the team of chefs work.
Right next to the kitchen was the Print Hall dining room, which will offer Modern Australian cuisine that showcases local West Australian produce. On the night, Blue Cow Cheeses had set up a little ‘fromagerie’ stand in front of the kitchen, where they offered a selection of cheeses to sample. This was A’s favourite aspect of the evening and we both enjoyed sampling the cheeses, while sipping on our Bollinger.
At one end of the circular bar on the ground floor, stood Jerry Fraser and a selection of oysters. I’ve seen Jerry around Perth a few times now and he is always so friendly and accommodating to questions and requests. A had a few oysters on the evening, to which she said they were fresh and very tasty.
We soon met up with Foodie Cravings and her husband, Burger Boy, who beckoned us towards the bar to view the The West Winds Gin ‘Saber’ Ginlet being prepared. I love cocktails and seeing as though I wasn’t driving on the night, I decided to sample one. The end result was a sweet, thick cocktail that was citrusy and moreish. I can’t wait to make this recipe at home, after it was published on The West Winds Gin website. (Side note: The West Winds Gin uses water from Margaret River and is my favourite gin. I’ve been meaning to do a product review of this amazing product since A bought me a bottle for Christmas. If you haven’t tried it and enjoy gin, I seriously recommend grabbing yourself a bottle!).
An opening isn’t complete without a few speeches. The West Australian columnist Paul Murray opened the evening with stories from the venue’s previous origins as a newspaper production house. Lyndon Waples, CEO of the Colonial Leisure Group, said that we were all lucky to be at the opening as the liquor license only came through 40 minutes before the Print Hall was due to open! Print Hall was then officially opened by the Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett.
Now, apart from the fabulous venue, I was blown away by the food provided on the night. David Coomer, the Executive Chef of Print Hall, did an amazing job in regards to the food and catering for the 600+ guests during the evening. A and I both mentioned during the night that the food at Print Hall is going to be spectacular, if the canapes are anything to go by.
One of our first canapes was the Prawn Biscuit with Chilli Jam. I found this to be a very interesting dish, as it had the whole of the prawn (shell and all) within the biscuit. I really liked the flavours but found it hard to eat the shell of the prawn within the biscuit itself (a personal preference!)
The Vietnamese Banh Mi filled with Chinatown Pork Belly, Apple Slaw and BBQ Sauce was one of my favourites from the evening. The filling was full of flavour and the pork belly was soft but also quite crispy on the outside. Every element, including the bread, tasted really fresh and had amazing flavour. An incredibly tasty dish that I look forward to eating again.
The Crab and Vegetarian Rice Paper Rolls were served on little ceramic spoons and were also full of flavour. A delicious little bite of a Vietnamese favourite.
The Confit Duck Cromesqui with Walnut and Lemon Thyme was another favourite of the evening. The Cromesqui was similar to a croquette – crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
The Pork Terrine with Fennel, Pistacho and Pickle was another excellent canape. The terrine had both an excellent texture and taste, with it being soft but firm and was a perfect bite.
To finish our evening, we were served with little Vanilla Slice fingers. The pastry was incredibly crunchy and the filling was gooey and perfect. A beautiful way to end the evening.
It was a magical night that left A and I looking forward to returning very soon. The venue is amazing and I’m excited to see how the Perth public respond to an exciting and new addition to the Perth CBD.
You’ll be seeing me at Bob’s Bar during summer, lounging around on the comfy seats with a glass of wine in one hand and some delicious food in the other.
Print Hall is open to the public from this Tuesday, the 25th September 2012.
A special thank you to Kate & Co. Publicity & Events for inviting me to the opening.