PUB FARE HEATING UP FOR PROSPERITY

In New on the menu by Clyde Mooney

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Warm-weather-good-times have begun, and savoir faire fare offerings are opening like spring blooms in pubs around the country.

Last night the Good Beer Company launched its new French-American bistro in the DOG (Duke of Gloucester), dubbed Duke’s Bistro.

Located in the upper level of the large-format Randwick pub, Duke’s runs the length of the building, wrapped around the new open-plan kitchen, and framed by the full-length balcony overlooking bustling Frenchmans Road.

The DOG’s Duke’s Bistro

The Bistro has been decorated in a French-American theme, with French Colonial stylings and New Orleans furnishings including a long high table and chairs and bar-fly stools looking straight into the kitchen. Mustard walls and ceilings and suspended lighting complement features such as a chandelier at the entrance, and mural by local artists Jo & Jo.

The busy, shiny kitchen has two prominent specially-designed rotisseries, spinning racks of whole chickens, cuts of pork and seafood, dripping onto roasted vegetables. The menu offers “French classics with a modern twist at affordable pub prices” under the tutelage of executive chef Dwayne Baber.

About an hour’s drive west of the DOG, Andrew Lazarus has just launched an instalment of his GoodTime Burgers concept from his The Eastern Hotel in Bondi, into his Warwick Farm pub El Loco.

The launch on Monday saw a packed house and local media arrive for the western Sydney specialty burger bar, and the 500 free burgers on offer “went very quickly” according to Lazarus.

“The social media response has been unprecedented,” he told PubTIC. “It was a great day. Very happy with it.”

GoodTime Burgers opened in The Eastern in 2013, and has earned a reputation for ‘themed’ feasts, led by chef Andrew O’Shea. This began with the ‘Royale with Cheese’ – inspired by Pulp Fiction, and one of the freebies dished out at the launch. This has evolved into the likes of the Holy Jalapeño, the isLamb Kofta, the Aussie Bogan, and the latest, the Bali Bagus Burger.

There is also an old-school competitive eating dare, to consume the Man vs Burger within eight minutes to score the thing for free. The 1kg burger consists of five patties, five slices of American cheese, bacon, pickles, sauce, lettuce, onion and tomato on a Japanese milk bun.

In Melbourne’s Fitzroy, owners of the Builder’s Arms determined it was time for a shake-up of the entire business, including ditching the award-winning, hatted Moon Under Water restaurant.

Frontman for the Builder’s Arms is celebrity chef Andrew McConnell, known for many Melbourne fine-dining establishments, including Cutler & Co, Cumulus Inc and Luxembourg Bistro.

While the front bar of the classic 1853 pub remains unchanged from the group’s re-launch in 2012, the new bistro Ricky & Pinky has been converted to one large space, featuring Chinese restaurant stalwarts such as lazy susans and large glass tanks occupied by abalone, fat succulent fish, and soon home-grown crayfish.

Heading up the kitchen is chef Archan Chan, who has worked at several of O’Connel’s restaurants and brings her Hong Kong upbringing influence. While the menu is slated to change regularly and seasonally, there will be many house permanents, such as raw kingfish, ‘drunken chicken’, pippies in XO sauce, and dry-aged duck breast with burnt-orange sauce.

Back in Sydney, Abbott’s Hotel in Waterloo, about a kilometre from Sydney University, is suggesting hungry absent scholars need good times too.

In the spirit of the 80s cult movie classic, Abbott’s is now offering a $10 Ferris Bueller Beer & Burger Deal for students that have skipped class, suggesting if you’re playing hookie you may as well enjoy it.

“We don’t condone excessive skipping of class!” publican Bill Smith told PubTIC.

“We have the Sydney Film School behind us and like pitching ideas to them, and we’re always striving to strike that balance between our traditional customers and introducing a new demographic.”

Located in an up-and-coming highly diverse part of Waterloo, Abbott’s is still the kind of pub that bases itself on core values and knowing the names of regulars, but knows also the changing face of the area’s culture and inhabitants.

The pub recently actively engaged in the Pokemon Go craze, buying lures to attract players, with noticeable effect on patron numbers. Smith says these initiatives are his desire to get the pub’s name out there and new people coming in.

The latest promotion strikes a balance between the mature patronage, beard-hugging hipsters nursing one of Abbott’s Melbourne Bitter draughts, and young newcomers. And not to discriminate, the $10 Deal for an Abbott’s Burger and refreshing ale is also open to tutors and lecturers.

“Everyone has skipped a class sometime in their past,” says Smith. “I remember on occasion being tempted to go have a beer rather than attend Stat’s #1.

“We’re just appealing to the audience we know we need to attract, and suggesting they enjoy their newly found free time eating great food.”