Trust is an incredibly important commodity when it comes to hospitality in general. Patronage is built on experience, reputation and trust. Of the three, the only element that is blind is trust.
I trust in Little Creatures. I am not sure which element appeals the most. But I can tell you that the reason I am here tonight is the knowledge that Little Creatures delivers on food. Each and every experience I have had in Fremantle and Fitzroy have been great. Fuss free, quality ingredients, with unusual precision for what in the end is a restaurant singing an ode to the beer it is marketing. Maybe that is the veil that separates expectation from reality and leads to such an over-delivery.
While I realise I’m gushing about Little Creatures I cannot help it. The brewery and restaurant in Fremantle was an absolute revelation when it opened in what was previously the Crocodile Farm. It was huge, full of people enjoying some of the best new beer to be released in some time (I could say from a WA perspective the beginning of the craft brewery movement), and the instant favourite of most Perthites. I was always impressed that the Fitzroy venue (a German beer hall) kept the same ingredients for success.
The Geelong edition is well signposted, which is good, since without the signs it would have been difficult to find! In a working brewery, the “canteen” is past the car gate security check, down the lane, to the right, past the waiting room looking shipping container, and then to the right again. For a well hidden room, the restaurant is a big space. The red brick building is beautiful and old, but I have no doubt a lot of care and effort was taken to renovate it into the venue it is today. There’s table service for diners and a large bar for those seeking relief from only their thirst.
After hearing Alice Waters’ speech about slow food culture, and uniformity not always being the great attribute it often is held out to be (referring to the MacDonald’s lack of creativity and more adverse consequences of uniformity), I am loath to use the words. However, the style of pizza offered at the Geelong brewery is uniform to that offered at the other Little Creatures outposts. Catherine and I share the spiced lamb with zucchini and goat’s cheese pizza, and also the prawn, jalapeño, gremolata and mozzarella version. Both pizza bases are nice and thin, with the right amount of crispiness for my taste. The prawns are generously spread around the base and the jalapeños are hot. The gremolata, which I find is a mix of lemon zest, parsley and garlic, adds a distinct punch, but isn’t quite as generous as the prawns. The spiced, minced lamb on the other pizza is thickly spread, and works well with the zucchini and goat’s cheese. There is some sort of reduction, like a sweet balsamic, drizzled over sparingly which also adds further interest, cutting through some of the richness of the lamb. Both pizzas are terrific.
Needless to say, the beer (and cider) is fresh and true to recipe. The Rogers I am drinking is a darker ale that has less alcohol than most of the other offerings. Given we are driving back to Melbourne tonight after watching Violent Soho at the Barwon Club, there is a need to keep a lid on it (figuratively and literally). But the Rogers is one of the best mid-strength beers I’ve tried anywhere in the world, so I’m happy. The cider has a mild sweetness but is on the drier side – a style which is unfortunately becoming more the minority as more and more sweet ciders seem to be hitting the market.
In and out relatively quickly on this Saturday night I have been reminded again of how important trust is when selecting a venue to dine at. The Little Creatures stable of restaurants have the ingredients to attract a diverse and significant following, and every single time I’m there those ingredients are delicious!