I’ve mentioned it before, but one of the best parts of my job at Five Senses is having the privilege to visit our accounts, eat delicious food, drink incredible coffee and then write some nice words about my experiences. Sometimes though, when the stars and planets align, the café owners themselves take the newsletter reins and set the scene for their space, creating an image and feeling that I could only hope to do justice to as an outsider. Here, Bivouac owners Amanda Ricciardo and Anthony Princi, partners at work and play, give us the story behind their Canteen, its funny name and what you can expect when you visit?
Bivouac … the word is used in a literal sense to describe a temporary campsite used by adventurers and trekkers, and also in the military as a place to rest and recuperate. It is normal to share a bivouac with fellow travellers and to share food and water along with the shelter. The name Bivouac came about because we wanted a name that would represent what we’re all about; getting together in a warm and comfy place, sharing food and drinks and enjoying each other’s company. We wanted to create a space that would be open to feeding and watering those on the William street trail and the cultural precinct such as The Bird, PICA, State Theatre Centre, Blue Room Theatre, Art Gallery, Museum, Bakery, Ya Yas and other haunts in the vicinity.
The inspiration for Bivouac began with our obsession with quality food and drinks. It developed into a dream of a unique space in an area that was well up for something different. We had worked with Italian food for a long time, so we were looking for a challenge and our own taste for Middle Eastern and North African food led us to developing a menu that drew inspiration from the greater Mediterranean area. The beauty of these cuisines is the culture of sharing dishes amongst a group which we believe really enhances the dining experience. A few of our dishes are quickly becoming local faves like the Chermoula-rubbed Gin Gin Goat chops, The Freekeh with Cinammon Poached Chicken and the Greek Lamb Backstrap Pizza. Our regular customers and Facebook friends are also treated to secret menu options when the Chef has prepared something special.
The back drop of a burgeoning new bar scene and the vibrant and growing cultural precinct on William Street made this seem like the perfect spot for Bivouac. We felt that the residents, workers, students and passersby might be ready for an all-day canteen that you would be happy to enter for a boozy breakfast, a business lunch or a meal and drink before a show.
Outstanding coffee no matter what time of the day, was always part of our overall plan, as we would often leave outstanding restaurants thinking the meal was awesome but the coffee was a bit ‘meh’. Spending time with Nolan at Liar Liar and now Proud Mary was an inspiration, and returning to Perth we chose Five Senses to help us realise our goal of delivering an awesome coffee every single time. We worked closely with Five Senses to create our own Bivouac 4-bean house blend, as well as pouring a single origin which is currently the Fairtrade Honduras. In fact, the drink that is taking off is the “Double Hondy” on the rocks — ask for it by name.
The challenge of the fit-out was to take a worn out pizzeria and re-energise it into a clean and comfortable place that was not over complicated. We used the aesthetic of the bivouac to create a space that would allow for rest, recuperation and sharing. We worked with our designer and builders to allow for flow and space, and used new materials for our counters and furniture. We did the lion’s share of the work ourselves and hand-crafted or custom-built almost everything. One of the walls of the internal dining area has been designated a rotating showcase for emerging artists. We are currently exhibiting our fourth artist and you can find out more on our website blog.
With the Biv we have tried where possible to create a point of difference — sourcing our ingredients from local farmers and producers and creating interesting menu items that encourage sharing. Our wine list focuses on single varietals and regional specialties and our signature drinks include the Cynargy, Gin Soldier and, especially for this summer, the new Zen Amaro. Moving into spring and summer, we will continue to develop our menu reflecting new season meats, fruit, vegetables and refreshing beverages.
198 William Street
Northbridge WA 6003
Tuesday — Saturday 10:00am — 10:00pm
Sunday — Monday Closed