Morphett Arms Hotel



date of visit:  Thursday 29 September 2011

Sorry – no picture of my schnitzel this time – I am self-conscious taking photos when out with friends!

A quick mid-week visit to a pub with a couple of friends.  I don’t know what made me do it, but I actually rang up and booked a table at the Morphett Arms.  I thought I was a bit silly, booking a table for 6pm on a Thursday night – after all, the pub dining room (sorry, it’s always a bistro these days!) will be empty.

It turns out it was extremely lucky that I booked a table, because even at that early hour the pub was busy.  And I don’t mean ticking over nicely, I mean really busy.  I suspect had we not had a reservation we might not have been eating.

The pub is reasonably basic – the dining room is dominated at one end by the salad bar, and everything is done out in various shades of neutral.  The clientele seems to fall into two distinct groups:  those who are somewhat older and family groups with children.  One of my friends commented we were far too young to be there – but we did have the baby in tow, so we sort of fitted in.

Not knowing how things worked, the first mistake we made was one of our party wandering off to find the bar and buy drinks.  At the Morphett Arms, drinks are table service, but when it comes to ordering food you have to order at the counter.  What most patrons do (that would be those familiar with the system) is arrive, order their food immediately and then sit down and have their drinks order taken. We were flapping around like complete novices – not sure where to get menus, not sure how to order our food, and having to turn away waiting staff who wanted to take a drinks order …

Menus in hand we were next completely flummoxed by the array of schnitzel toppings on offer. I know I only ever order a parmi, but Galaxiian? Princess? No explanation at all on the very basic printed, but laminated, menu. When we did go up to order, all was made clear: all the necessary details and the specials are all at the counter.

So we ended with beef schnitzels with gravy and the Galaxiian topping (a combination of onions and capsicums), and chicken schnitzels with Hawaiian and American toppings. Yes – I departed from the standard parmigiana because, at the Morphett Arms, a parmi is tomato sauce and cheese, but American adds the ham.

The food arrived promptly and the beef schnitzels were huge. The plates were decorated with a very token lettuce leaf – but all main courses do include the salad bar. By the time we’d all ploughed our way through schnitzels and chips there was no space for salad – but there was a generous selection of the pub standards: rice salad, pasta salad, green salad, beetroot, and so on.

The schnitzels themselves were good but I did think that the topping (on mine, at least) could have been a little more generous and extended the entire length and breadth of the schnitzel. The chips were pretty disappointing (even by the low standard I set for pub chips).

However, the real sting in the tail is that the schnitties at the Morphett Arms don’t fall into the cheap category – by the time you add your sauce you are looking at over $20 (most sauces are $2.50) which I think is too much for what is really a stock standard meal. While the Morphett Arms doesn’t appear to have a cheap schnitzel night, the pub does take the Entertainment Card (there’s a voucher in this year’s book for 25% off your entire bill, including drinks) and it also looks like it runs the occasional shop-a-docket promotion but if you’re paying full tote odds, I think it’s too expensive.

Service wise – things were definitely above average. Despite the busy dining room there were plenty of staff on and we had no problems sorting out drinks (once we’d worked out what we were doing!), organising a high chair or having any other needs attended to.

While this is definitely a venue I’d consider if I needed somewhere family friendly for a group, it won’t be my first stop for a schnitzel.