The eating highlight of our time in Fremantle was Bread in Common. It's a converted warehouse with long communal tables and a no-bookings policy that reminded me of Garagistes, and we took a punt on it for a fancy dinner.
The sharing menu is a good one for vegetarians, and solid for vegans too (we overheard one sitting next to us and he seemed to be a regular!). Gluten-free folks also have plenty to choose from but the severely allergic may wish to proceed with caution - this restaurant is clearly proud of its bread and operates as a flour-dusted bakery as well as a restaurant.
We were in the mood for cocktails - Michael enjoyed a negroni ($17) served with a huge ice sphere and I tried their burnt lime mule ($18). Unlimited bread comes with a $2 per person price tag, and the first section of the menu is an array of little foods that complement it. Although we ordered the sweet garlic butter with fennel salt ($2), we strongly suspect that we received the unflavoured butter - it was still pretty good. Even better was the vegan-friendly white bean puree swirled with rosemary and saltbush ($4).
A plate of orange and purple carrots ($19) was made sweet and sour with compressed rhubarb and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. Late season mushrooms ($20) were much more savoury, flavoured with shallots, miso, edamame and blue cheese then crowned with mustard leaves.
Our favourite was the sweet potato dish ($21) with artichokes, macadamias, capers and verjuice - it captured sweet and savoury equally and expertly.
For dessert, Michael took a rare trip into cheese platter territory ($32), gleefully picking his way through a Cambray Farmhouse cheddar, Onetik Bleu de Basque, Auvermont Bleu, Le Marquis Chevre, toasted breads and a glass of Hekate Passito ($13).
I skipped over the chocolate and strawberry desserts I'd usually go for to try their bread and butter pudding ($18). The promised ginger wasn't as strong as I'd hoped, and the condensed milk was fun but not striking; I was neither thrilled nor disappointed. (I later learned that they make their own Oreos and have a twinge of regret for not trying the chocolate dessert.)
While these were certainly special-occasion prices, we were satisfied that we received a special-occasion experience, from the service and setting to the vegetarian dishes and the extravagent extras.
When our hopes of visiting vegetarian cafe Juicy Beetroot fell through a couple of days later, Bread in Common was an easy fallback breakfast. To our surprise, the prices at this time of day were no higher than we'd paid for breakfast at other Perth and Fremantle cafes. I tried their version of the ubiquitous avocado smash ($17), which came with a lemon sliver, abundant fresh peas, a few purplish-green leaves and some sadly burned and too-tough-to-cut sourdough toast. I found the perfect smoothie to drink with it ($8), a slushy pale green glass of coconut, apple and lime.
Michael decided to reprise the mushrooms ($21). In the morning they're served richly with taleggio, mushroom ketchup and wholemeal toast.
Michael easily convinced me to pick something from their sweets list. The jam and chocolate hazelnut (read: Nutella) donuts ($5 each) were just fine, nothing special. I really should have ordered one of those housemade Oreos, huh?
It was probably lucky that we entered Bread in Common ignorant of the widespread hype (see blog posts below, for example). Their incidentally-veg dishes were bright and tasty, and their high-end-but-casual style wasn't too pretentious. Eating out in Perth is frequently expensive, and in this context Bread in Common feels like even better value.
This restaurant has already had massive blog coverage, albeit not from a veg*n perspective. It's won fans on Awwyum Productions, The Food Enthusiasts, iMasticate, 1 Hungry Banana, Perth Cafe Culture, ChiGarden, The Provocative Couture, Foodvixen, The Chef, His Wife and their Perthfect Life, JKP, Lion in the Wild, 4 In Our House, Lei Lady Lei, all the little extras, Laura's Mess, Milktea Eats, AngelaMichella, The Illusive Femme, Chomp Chomp, Ministry of Gluttony, My Funny Valentine, frenchtoastandindiepop, Feed Your Soul, Perth, One Bite More, Wino sapien, libertineeats.com, Christobel and Love Freo.
Reviews are more mixed on BLK's Food Blog and FoodPorn Journal, then distinctly disappointed on Morsels, WenY Wonders Why, Perth Food Blog and Taste Test - Food.Life.
Bread in Common
43 Pakenham St, Fremantle
(08) 9336 1032
Accessibility: They've been mindful in their design - wide flat entry and clear corridors, although tables can be densely packed. We ordered at the table, also paying there for dinner but paying at a high counter for breakfast. Toilets were gendered but included a third fully accessible option.