Opened in late 2019, The Old Synagogue is – in what was, way back in 1902, Fremantle Synagogue – another example of how hospitality developments can resurrect the dormant buildings that make up Fremantle’s rich cultural fabric.
Tonic & Ginger, one of the development’s four venues, is home to the talents of chef Leigh Power, known for his time at Sweetwater Rooftop Bar in East Freo and further afield at Gingerboy in Melbourne.
Ultimately, it’s the food and the service that do the talking, and judging by an upbeat lunchtime throng of mainly Freo locals, Tonic & Ginger has transcended any preoccupation with aesthetics
Despite a drinks list that makes a feature of cocktails and highballs topped up with Fever-Tree tonic, it’s fair to say the appeal here is very much in Power’s modern Asian menu. Even early on the fit-out already seems a little worn, unless the mezzanine is a graveyard for wonky chairs. Ultimately, it’s the food and the bright service that do the talking, and judging by an upbeat lunchtime throng of mainly Freo locals, Tonic & Ginger has transcended any preoccupation with aesthetics.
On offer is an accomplished and comforting menu you’ll doubtless be ordering on autopilot after just a few visits. Juicy pork potstickers, the slightest hint of pink, with bite and a nicely caramelised wrapper are worth considering doubling up on. A classic drunken chicken salad is simple, yet has bags of much-needed freshness. The massaman curry, meanwhile, is mild but the gelatinous ox cheek stands ready to melt into the richness. The menu regularly changes with the seasons – for instance, that drunken chicken salad could be swapped for a hot and sour duck number – keeping both the kitchen and patrons on their toes.
Add The Old Synagogue’s other walk-in only venues and Fremantle undeniably has a new draw, with Tonic & Ginger’s generous approach front and centre.