The Victoria Hotel

photo(2)

date of visit: Sunday 28 August 2011

Writing a review of a pub can be tricky. If the pub fashions itself as trendy or cutting edge, with a more interesting than average menu then the review is relatively easy – either things have worked or they haven’t. But sometimes, a pub is … just a pub.

The Victoria Hotel, at O’Halloran Hill, is one of those pubs. It’s part of the Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group – a behemoth owning 286 licensed venues across Australia. And this means, as you’d expect, that the menu is standard pub fare, at standard pub prices. As with so many pubs, you do need to have the right attitude as you walk in the door.

We visited on a Sunday evening, small child in tow. The Vic sits on Main South Road almost directly atop O’Halloran Hill. The dining room makes the most of this, its huge windows looking out across Sturt Gorge towards the foothills. The dining area is also massive: it’s divided into two sections and there’s plenty of space around the tables.

Early on a Sunday evening things in the bistro were quiet, and we were able to settle ourselves and the baby in without any hassle (spotlessly clean high chair provided by the pub’s friendly staff). Having been to the Vic once before we didn’t need to spend too much time looking at the menu. As well as the usual pub staples, the Vic also offers wood oven pizzas. As you might have guessed, I ordered a chicken parmi and Andy ordered the Ocean Catch which he’d also ordered on our previous visit. The catch is a collection of seafood goodies – a beer battered fillet of fish, crumbed prawns and salt and pepper squid.

In both our cases, I’m sure our dinners went from freezer to deep fat fryer and to the table: but that’s almost exactly what I’d expect. Service was super fast which is what I want when having a pub schnittie.

And both our dinners were completely adequate. Personally, I’d prefer that the salad dressing be served on the side (so I could avoid it) and I do think that the pub could do a LOT better with its bread rolls (sad, tiny, anaemic, doughy in a bad way), but in terms of meeting expectations the Victoria hit the nail on the head.  The schnitzel had a crunchy crumbed exterior without being burnt and the meat was moist.  The topping was the usual ham, tomato based sauce and cheese.  Absolutely nothing to complain about.

A chicken parmi will set you back $17.90 (plain $15.90, with choice of the usual sauces) which is more or less standard. However, Tuesday night is schnitzel night and then a plain schnitzel is only $10.90.

If you want a pub meal with better than average views then you can do a lot worse than the Vic.

Victoria Hotel on Urbanspoon

Holdfast Hotel, Glenelg

date of visit: Wed 2 Feb 2011

Holdfast Hotel Schnitzel

I was quite excited to be heading to the Holdy: I haven’t had a schnitzel in what seems like ages and I went through a stage of drinking (responsibly, of course) at the Holdy on a Friday after work (quite an achievement as, at the time, I worked out at Elizabeth). The last schnitzel I ate there I perched at the front bar before a gig. More than 10 years ago.

Since then, the Holdy has had a face lift, got itself a micro-brewery and generally made its way up in the world. Sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes it’s not.

We started the evening out in the beer garden which is a pleasant spot for a drink. Even though it’s smack bang on Brighton Road it’s well enough shut off from the street that you don’t notice it. There’s plenty of shade and no shortage of seating. Obviously, it’s where the smokers are going to congregate but I think it’s spacious enough to make that not an issue.

Having its own brewery was a definite draw card for me, so I was a little disappointed when I headed to the bistro’s bar to find only one of their beers on draught: Dominator. At least the barman did actually know what style the beer was (a wheat beer) and he even knew the beer’s approximate abv. Things were looking good.

The Bistro was a lot busier than I’d have expected for a Wednesday night, with a couple of large parties booked in – so it was a good thing we’d made a reservation. When I’d booked I’d been careful to advise that we were coming in with a pram so it was disappointing that our table was at situated along a wall, right on the end, next to the door through to the front bar – so no space at all for a pram. Fortunately, the waitress in charge of showing us to our table recognised instantly (before we did) that there would be a problem and suggested we sit in one of the booths at the back of the bistro. It’s a shame the person taking the booking hadn’t shown similar initiative and customer focus …

The booths at the back of the bistro are actually an excellent spot to sit even if you don’t have a pram. The area is carpeted with soft furnishings and is considerably quieter than the main area (which, of course, consists of the requisite hard surfaces). If you’re old and grumpy (like my friends and me!) this is perfect!

Mondays and Wednesdays at the Holdy are schnitzel nights – the schnitzels are $14 with parmi an additional $2.50. If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking that $14 is not a particularly cheap schnitzel on a schnitzel night (not when you consider you can head to the Rob Roy and pay $10) … so was the Holdy going to over deliver?

No.

The schnitzels were standard pub schnitzels. The schnitzel itself was quite generously sized and came with a reasonable (but not massive) portion of chips. While I’d put the chicken parmi firmly in the average-good bracket, the chips weren’t that flash. As you can see from the photo the schnitzel came with a bit of vegetable decoration but if you wanted salad or vegetables that was extra again (an extra $4.90). Since no one in their right mind goes to a pub for a schnitzel and then orders salad as well I can’t report on that …

The remainder of the Holdy’s menu suggests that the kitchen is trying to do something a bit interesting while staying firmly within a ‘pub meal’ remit. Parts of the menu are a little pedestrian (seafood basket, for example), parts are a bit odd (potato and pecan croquette … not a natural pairing) and parts sound quite good (creamy parmesan potatoes, fennel gratin). But that makes me worry the menu is attempting to be all things to all people. Still, I shouldn’t be commenting on what I haven’t tried!

However, as far as the schnitzels go, we all felt they were too expensive for what they were: a standard pub schnitzel at a slightly higher than standard price.

Holdfast Hotel on Urbanspoon

Schnitzels a bit pricey – even on schnitzel night
Rating:2.5 stars
**1/2

Rob Roy Hotel

Chicken Parmi at the Rob Roy

date of visit:  Thurs Sept 16 2010

PUB QUIZ:  the Rob Roy runs a pub quiz every second Wednesday.  Please contact the pub for further details.!

The Rob Roy Hotel is, perhaps, a little out of the way of most city centre workers – after all, you have to get all the way down Pulteney Street to Halifax Street to find it …

However, if you can manage it, it’s more than worth the detour. It’s an old pub – continuously licensed since 1840, and restoration and extension work has been sympathetic. The interior is modern and spacious and there’s plenty of outdoor space and seating. Catch a movie at the Theaters in Halifax, the experience is a great one.

The Rob Roy is a busy pub – sign up to their weekly emails (or download the free iPhone app) and you’ll be impressed not just by the fact that the pub serves imperial pints (the big ones) but by the range of activities and offers that run throughout the week and year. As a malt whisky specialist pub, there always seems to be a whisky tasting or dinner in the event calender, as well as wine dinners, quiz nights, and members’ nights.

But we weren’t there for any of that (not even the pints) – we were there for the Thursday evening $10 schnitzel. Yes – $10 for a schnitzel (add an extra $2 if you want parmigiana). So, what would it be like? Would it be a tiny portion that left us dissatisfied or would it be a monster that put the normal $20 pub schnitzel to shame?

It turned out that there was surprisingly keen interest in this experiment: 10 of us turned up to suss out the cheap schnitzel. One person ordered from the menu (and another would have, except her husband informed her that a schnitzel extravaganza meant she had to order schnitzel) but the rest of us opted for schnitzel with parmigianas being heavily represented.

As usual, I chose a chicken schnitzel parmigiana and I was happy. The schnitzel part was good: thick and juicy, and the topping was not too tomato sweet. While I was not thrilled with how generously salted the chips were I was pleased that it was not the usual ridiculous quantity of them (Andy, while agreeing on the salt, thought there could have been more). The salad was disappointing – far too overdressed, leaving it soggy and being all about balsamic vinegar.

That reflects the general consensus – the $10 schnitzels might not be the best schnitzels in Adelaide (to be honest, we’re still working on finding those!) but not only do they represent excellent value (let’s face it, with a schnitzel dinner you can live without a great salad), they also demonstrate just how overpriced the average pub schnitzel is.

I’d definitely head back to the Rob Roy on a Thursday … but before then, I have to try out Tuesday and the half price pizzas!

Pot Still Restaurant, Rob Roy Hotel on Urbanspoon