“Trendy fizz”. “Bojo”. “Jura (in transit)”. These wine categories – as scrawled in chalk on the shelving at King Somm’s dedicated wine store – suggest that the folks behind Bayswater’s newest opening aren’t taking themselves too seriously.
But there's thought behind the easy-going attitude, starting with the impressive range of wines available to drink in and take away. (The categories, incidentally, refer respectively to petillant naturel wines, beaujolais and some soon-to-arrive bottles from one of the natural wine world’s hotspots). Factor in the tight but far-reaching beer range and you’re looking at a neighbourhood bar that’s thinking – and drinking – big.
The drinks fridge is one of many things to like about King Somm. There’s the uncluttered aesthetic that underscores the timeless good looks of the heritage-listed building the venue is in. The collective CV of the floor staff, which includes Colleen Carney (a five-year veteran of Duende) and bar manager Mariusz Ganski (ex-Must Winebar). The warmth of the soundtrack, all vintage speakers and tube-amp-driven. Best of all, thoough, is the space’s instant sense of warmth and familiarity. First-time visitors to this former billiard hall would be excused for assuming King Somm has been around for years rather than a week.
“We wanted to create that local bar that people felt comfortable coming to,” says Simone Robeson, the architect behind the bar and one of its owners. Her husband Matt Hayes, brother Dion Robeson and sister-in-law Alana Robeson are her partners in the venture. “It’s the sort of place we’d want to spend our spare time at.”
King Somm’s other big draw is its in-house pizzeria, Jane Dough Pizza. Run by veteran Perth chef Ben Atkinson (Meat Candy, Ace Pizza, The Old Crow), Jane Dough gets a lot of the pizza basics right. Slow-fermented dough made with pizza flour. The use of San Marazano tomatoes and fior di latte cheese. A wood-burning Zesti oven. None the less, Atkinson isn’t concerned with baking a “traditional” pie.
“I can’t say the pizza is Neapolitan or that it’s this or it’s that,” he says. “It’s just tasty pizza, and I think that’s okay. We don’t need to brand it any way. As long as customers enjoy it, that’s the main thing.”
Despite Atkinson’s dissatisfaction at the pizzas (“there’s still tweaking to be done,” he says), the biscuity, well-sauced pies are an encouraging start. The toppings are sparse and feature Mediterranean-inspired combinations such as pork and fennel sausage, roast onions and salsa verde. And anchovies with roasted capsicum and salmoriglio (a garlicky dressing from Italy’s south). The toppings aren’t the only surprise. The public’s response to small plates such as lamb ribs with saffron yoghurt, and fish crudo with nectarine and black sesame, has caught the kitchen off-guard.
“We thought the small plates were going to take a bit of a back seat to the pizza but they’ve been on the same level,” says Atkinson. “We’ve seen a lot of the same faces come back after trying the pizza and order the other things from the menu.”
As well as being available dine-in, Jane Dough’s pizzas and salads can also be ordered takeaway from the bar. The wine store will also host wine tastings and pop-up cellar doors.
13 King William Street, Bayswater
0429 399 133
Wed & Thu 4:30pm – 9pm