Some of you may recall my unusual Australia Day weekend this year. It started off at our local pub The Broken Hill Hotel where we munched on casual pub food with drinks a plenty and could even see the fireworks show from where we sat on their balcony. A far cry from our usual annual party extravaganza we hold at our house but a great night out all the same. The reason for such a tame national holiday you see was that the weekend preceeding this relaxing weekend happened to be my Hen’s day. In true Chompchomp style I burnt all my candles at both ends and managed to come out with a fair share of bruises coupled a strained joint in my spine. It was worth it; we had a total hoot of a time but entertaining and cooking for the masses was out of my capabilities that following weekend.
After such a fun night at The Broken Hill, we decided to continue in our “let’s go local” mode and walked down to the other end of Albany Highway to The Publican Bar. Our wedding was just over a month away at this point in time and both of us were filled with excitement and anxiety. The biggest thing that recently was absorbing our thoughts was the choreographed dance for our first dance. We were both feeling like we may have bitten off more than we could chew but knew how jaw dropping it would be if we could pull it off. To make matters worse, our dance practice had been stalled to a halt by my stupid drunk and disorderly neck injury from the Hen’s. This left me feeling guilty as I was the one responsible for disrupting our progress.
We initially took a seat indoors but after such a relaxed evening outdoors the night before I could immediately see the Boy was uncomfortable and not happy with our choice. We looked out into the tiny courtyard and although there were no customers sitting out there to give any atmosphere it was still better than sitting under the dim lights indoors.
The Publican Bar has a number of gluten free options and these are clearly marked on their menu. We started with some lemon pepper squid and garlic prawns. Their prawns had a lot more flavour than those we had the previous night at the Broken Hill Hotel lacking that metallic watery after taste that can only come from frozen produce. The calamari were an eclectic mix of chewy and soft so it was a secret surprise whether you got the perfectly cooked piece or the rubbery one.
Predicting what the Boy will order to eat can sometime be a challenge. Often he will go for a long spell of choosing the same dishes over and over and then randomly pull out a left field and often successful punt at something more unusual. This Australia Day weekend however he has sticking to true blue Aussie man food and ordered another steak, this time the surf and turf.
I could hear an audible crunch as he chowed down his beer battered chips and noticed that his steak was cooked rare just as requested. We have had previous experiences where this wasn’t the case so it was a relief to see the kitchen was on track to serve this simple hearty meal well. The prawns however were more tasteless than our entrée and his salad appeared like it was dressed much earlier in the day leaving it looking sad and wilted.
I never used to be one to obsess over calories but preparing for a wedding will surely do it to the best of us and after drinking more than a bottle of wine with my three course meal the night before I was feeling racked with guilt for my indulgences this close to our wedding. To amplify my worries my injured neck meant my usual fall back to combat caloric excesses of running long distances was an absolute no go zone.
Taking this into mind I chose the grilled vegetable salad served with baby spinach, mushrooms, pumpkin, almonds, feta and roasted beetroot. Now I cannot say I’m a vegetarian by any means but I do actually prefer to eat a lot of vegetarian meals. I would expect maybe 3 out of 5 of my meals are meatless and when I do eat meat it tends to be from the sea. However, vegetarian doesn’t have to equate to boring and I cannot imagine what the chef was thinking when he prepared this salad. What ever happened to tossing all ingredients together? Odd. Needless to say I do love roast veggies so I still managed to walk away very satisfied. Just a little confused.
The Publican Bar is one of our locals but with the increasing number of new bars and restaurants opening up in the area I think they should really consider lifting their game in order to keep up with the competition. There were items still on their menu that I recall from visits several years back. I’m sure we will head back there again but it won’t be in a hurry.The Publican Bar 774 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park 6101 WA | (08) 9470 5818 | http://thepublicanbar.com.au Price: $$$ (Tapas $7-16, Mains $23-36) Food: 3/5 (a little hit and miss but does the staples well) Service: 2.5/5 (slow and reluctant) Ambience: 2.5/5 (it has a sports bar feel) Drinks: 3/5 (big range of beers, wine list fairly standard) Total: 11/20