date of visit: Wednesday 14 December 2011
Time off work as a family is a bit novel in our house but we have visitors from overseas so we’re trying to maximise our opportunities to do stuff. And of course, a fair bit of that ‘stuff’ involves eating. With my initial first choice of lunch venue kyboshed (not that I’m bitter) we headed up to Stirling to check out the Stirling Hotel.
Stirling is pretty small and you can’t really miss the pub – it’s on the main drag (technicall Mt Barker Road). It’s a semi rural setting and it’s a lovely old building so it’s all quite picturesque. One thing I think that spoils it is the decision to have some car parking in front of the outdoor eating area. It would be more pleasant to have that as garden, screening the area from the main road. However, people do drive and do need places to park – and no one forces you to sit outside.
Inside the Bistor it’s all very modern – white and neutral tones, clean lines. The menu is definitely a cut above the pub standard. Yes, it does feature schnitzels (well, goodness me, it wouldn’t be a pub if it didn’t!) but you can eat much more interesting food here than at many other places.
We decided to start by sharing wild mushroom arancini and the duck spring rolls. These are both from the “Shared” part of the mneu which is available all day. The arancini were excellent – mushroomy, not greasy and the rice was properly cooked. The duck spring rolls had a delicious filling but I felt were spoiled a little by having quite a thick (and hence a little doughy) wrapper. Andy disagreed with me and he felt that they were obviously made in house. To be fair, I did only have a tiny taste of the spring roll so we should probably take his word for it.
For main course I had salt and pepper squid which was very good. I particularly liked kipfler potato wedges (far superior to the pub’s standard chip which appeared with the schnitzel) and the garlic aioli was delicious. The squid was tender, not greasy and was tastier than the usual pub standard (and let’s face it, most pubs get their salt and pepper squid straight from the freezer, direct from a food processor – it’s ALWAYS the same).
Andy had the beef schnitzel with gravy which passed his schnitzel test. Also at our table we tried the chicken breast with brie and smoked ham and the char grilled pork cutlet with parsnip mash, broccolini and spiced rhubarb chutney. These were polished off so they must have passed muster.
As it was lunch and I was driving, I stuck to water and everyone else just had drinks from the bar but we wrapped up with coffees. The only hiccup of our meal was that one coffee cup arrived with lipstick residue still in situ. Now I appreciate that lipstick is a proper pain to clean off glassware and crockery but I’d kind of expect whoever made the coffee to notice. I sent the coffee back and it was collected with appropriate apologies, a fresh coffee was made and the cost of the coffee was refunded. You know what? Sometimes I really like it when something goes a little wrong with a meal because when a complaint is handled well, like this, everyone ends up feeling warm and fuzzy.
Overall I was really impressed with everything about our lunch at the Stirling and I’d definitely go back. The pub also has a restaurant (The Grill) for a more formal dining experience and now I’d like to give that a go too!