APPEARANCE COUNTS AT THE BAR
NO LONGER JUST A PLACE TO PROP FOR A BEER, PUBS LIKE THE PIER BAR HAVE A FAR WIDER APPEAL
Things are different at pubs these days. For a start, counter meals come in many more guises than steak and chips, crumbed chicken and chips, or sausage and chips. You can probably still get those at most pubs, but you’ll be browsing the menu between Thai beef salads and sweet potato fries.
It’s a whole new kettle of grilled barramundi (sprinkled with micro herbs of course).
The Pier Bar doesn’t even feel like an old-style pub. There’s no smell of beery day-after carpet, no clouds of cigarette smoke, no bored staff, no pool table yobby behaviour.
No, here it is all bright colours, cushions, openplan design, sea breezes, tropical plants, funky beats and a killer view. What’s pubby about that? Well, pub prices bode well for drinks and meals, but that’s about it.
Today it’s Taco Tuesday, so my lunch date and I decided that’s a good place to start. Since it has an official name, we consider it worthy of appropriate celebration with glasses of T’Gallant prosecco.
The flaked barra tacos are served on a wooden chopping board, a soft tortilla topped with fish, pickled white onion and tartare sauce. A handful of fresh salad sits at the side.
There’s a whole list of taco choices including Mexican beef (of course), pulled pork, char-grilled capsicum and Cajun chicken.
You could feast on the lot, but we’re just having one as a starter.
Moving on to a shared chilli prawn and pineapple pizza and a grilled haloumi and lamb salad, we’ve certainly got more than we bargained for. No worries, obliging staff are happy to box up any left-over pizza to take-away (that’s dinner sorted then). Both meals are large. The prawns on the pizza, with what taste like a hint of Thai dressing, which could be the “chef’s special chilli sauce”, are plump, fresh and plentiful.
The salad, while bearing enough shredded roast lamb to feed an All Black’s team, is a little bit on the boring side. There’s the odd piece of tomato and zucchini, two slices of grilled haloumi and tonnes of rocket, but it’s underdressed and needs a bit of revving up.
As we’ve other dishes to go with it, we get it across the line, but as a stand-alone, it wouldn’t fare so well.
Speaking of fancy pub menus these days, this one lists mushroom burger; pea, mint and blue cheese risotto; as well as wraps, steaks and churros (Spanish fried pastries sprinkled with chilli and sugar, served with dipping chocolate) for dessert.
It just goes to show the cosmopolitan outlook of today’s humble watering hole.