Great addition to Northbridge's small bar collection - reasonably priced with a good atmosphere.Our rating:
It seems as though every time we review a new small bar in Perth at least two more open their doors. One of the newest kids on the block is The Mechanics' Institute in Northbridge. Located just above (and owned by) Flipside Burgers on William Street. In true small bar fashion the entrance is hidden down the alleyway at the rear and can be a bit hard to find (hint: head south (towards the city) past Flipside, chuck a left on James St and its the first alley on your left).
I'd heard good things about Mechanic's Institute from a friend of mine, and seeing as though its owned by one of the better burger joints in Perth, I couldn't wait to check it out. The place looks great (once we eventually found it). The inside is pretty small with limited standing room, and only about five small tables - but there's plenty of room outside on the 'deck'. The only two issues we had with outside area were that there was insufficient shelter from the cold wind and showers (this wouldn't be an issue in summer, but it had been raining on-and-off all day), and also that the entire area is a 'smoking zone' - which can be annoying when you don't particularly fancy increasing your risk of lung cancer. The bar looks awesome, with dozens of interesting nick-nacks hanging around to keep you occupied while waiting for your drink - including a turtle skull!
We ordered a few cocktails, a mojito and a dark and stormy, at $14 each I wasn't expecting much, considering the average cocktail price in Perth is around $20 these days. They were both great, quality ingredients and just enough kick, if it wasn't a school night, both of us would've had a fair few more. Instead we opted for another pint and some burgers, which were convieniently delivered from Flipside below. The burgers were pretty decent although a little cold. However, when compared to our Flipside benchmark (Wembley), they were undoubtedly sub par.
Mechanics' Institute is a shining example of why WA's liquor licencing reform was a great idea and has done wonders for Perth as a city. Bringing in a wave of culture-rich small bars, a welcome change from Northbridge's bigger style pubs. Had they not been brought in, the area above flipside probably would've still been a vacant space left to rot away, instead it's now a bustling little bar with great atmosphere and even better drinks.