It's the type of place I wish was around about 5 to ten years ago. Before kids, I mean. When I was young enough to have the opportunity and freedom to spend a leisurely evening enjoying a drink or two, but old enough to appreciate the comfortable yet stylish surroundings, the better class of wines, the fact that your shoes don't stick to the floor the way they do in some lesser watering holes.
The Stanley in Wembley is one of the new small bars springing up around Perth thanks to the new class of licence. Designed to accommodate small numbers of patrons, these new bars provide quality wines by the glass (or bottle) without the need to purchase a meal.
The Stanley is unique in one respect though, in that it is adjacent to über cool burger bar Flipside, meaning dinner is also taken care of. More on that later.
Located in a converted house, the Stanley feels like someone's living room. A comfortable, early 19th Century living room with random yet quirky decorations. Period features such as high ceilings, fireplaces, chaise lounges and wooden sideboards add to the illusion. The main bar opens on to two rooms, intimately filled with an eclectic collection of small tables, chairs, and sofas. A small covered outdoor area accommodates those who still partake in a social smoke with their tipple, and a separate room out the back allows small groups to have a private – and very living-roomy - space to meet.
A group of us congregated on the Stanley on a very wet, very dark June night. The place was full despite the awful weather, the warm light and satisfied (and loud) chatter making the entire place feel like a hugely successful house party. Except without food.
It's a bit hard to find - look for Flipside on the corner
Nibbles are available – nuts, cheese and lavosh (a plate of all three will set you back $13). This is the extent of the food menu at the Stanley, but despair not. Those who require something more substantial to soak up your Sem Sav Blanc can pop next door to Flipside, order one of their gourmet burgers and have it delivered (at no charge) to your table at the Stanley.
Naturally the wine menu is much more extensive, with a range of local and international wines available by both the glass and the bottle. It is relatively small but very balanced and well priced. For example a glass of white wine and a glass of French bubbly cost me $20. The glassware is excellent quality and consists of stemless glasses for your red and white, which people either love or hate.
The disadvantages of the small bar licence is that it is – by definition – small. If you can nab a chair on a busy night you have it made, but there is very limited standing room. This is not the type of place that encourages standing at the bar chugging back jugs of beer. The crowd tends to be older (I said older, not old), well heeled locals.
For a relaxing evening with friends and a few glasses of nice wine, consider the Stanley the next time you are in the area.