The are three types of pub in Perth. There are the uber cool gastro pubs, the Subi's and the Boulevards, where the kitchen is pumping out extraordinary food, the atmosphere is buzzing and the clientele decidedly grown up.
Then there are the family friendly pubs, where there are kids playgrounds and menu's, colouring-in, where the serious drinkers are kept well apart from those enjoying a meal. The food may not be overly special, but it is generous and not threatening.
And then there are the ones where you go to drink. Not for the food and certainly not with your kids.
The Carine Glades Tavern firmly fits into the second category, and remembering that it is a still just a pub, it is pretty good at what it does, and if you have small children, it is a reasonable (and economical) place to take them for a meal.
On the north side of the building (and there are many different spaces within the Tavern, including a Sports Bar, three courtyards, Bar Lounge and Function Room) is the large restaurant. Outside there are a number of large tables, mostly covered by shade sails or umbrellas, which overlook a shaded play area with slides and climbing frames. There is also a putting green (mostly unshaded) where kids can play with the plastic clubs and balls provided.
Ignoring the fact that the putting green has a serious slope and the fence is high enough off the ground to allow errant golf balls into the carpark (a serious safety oversight), it is generally a great space for families as kids can come and go from the tables while parents relax over their meal. While not 100% gated, the area is fenced in enough to be pretty safe for kids of all ages.
The other major bonus at the Carine is the Kids Menu. More often than not, meals for kids are an afterthought: some frozen chicken nuggets or scaled down version of an adult pasta dish. At the Carine there are twelve items on the kids menu - all scored according to the healthy traffic light system - and each generous serve comes with a choice of juice or soda in a cup the kids get to take home. All meals are $9.90 and include the usual suspects (fish and chips, spaghetti and meatballs, sausage and mash and a hamburger) but they also have some welcome meals such as egg fried rice with bacon and vegetables, a grilled chicken wrap, egg noodle stirfy and even a mini steak.
And the best thing of all, between 5-7pm Mondays to Thursdays, you can get a free kids meal with every main meal ordered.
But what about the adults I hear you say? Here's the thing, as long as you remember you are in a large chain pub (one of hundreds owned nationally by Woolies), and a portion of the food is brought in and not made on site, it's actually quite good. It's not a gastro pub and won't be winning any Gold plates anytime soon, but it has some ok meals and you will be happy enough because the kids will be happy. (Note: relatively speaking, the meals are quite expensive, probably to balance the free kids meals during the week, so while it is good value for families bringing kids along for a free feed, it isn't such good value for people without children).
The main menu runs the gauntlet from burgers to salads to seafood to pasta. It has share plates and fancy sounding pork belly confit and the pub staples like chicken parmy. Main meals range between $20 and $30 with most if then $25 and the large "grill" section all $30 . So while you are paying top notch prices, you aren't actually getting too notch meals and many are food service products shipped in and finished on site.
We found this out the hard way when we quizzed the waitress about the lack of feta in the vegetarian tart ($21.9) which was meant to be roast buttered pumpkin (their phrasing, not mine), danish feta, caramelised onion with roasted cashew and wild rocket salad. If the rocket was really wild I will eat my child's Kindy hat.
She couldn't tell me about the tart and whether it actually had feta in, she explained, because they were brought in, so she didn't know what actually went in them. The tart was tasty in its own sloppy way, more a mashed pumpkin quiche than anything, and some nice salted feta would have lifted it, but it wasn't awful. The sheer quantity of the oil that 'dressed' the 'salad' was awful, but the tart itself was fine.
Much better were the four sliders ($24.9) that we shared, two a piece. They were big enough that two would make a satisfying lunch without anything extra. They come with paprika fries. I wish the paprika had been left in the jar. The four sliders are chicken and avocado, beef, BLT and pulled pork with coleslaw. There was an unusual flavour in the pulled pork one, possibly the dressing, but it didn't stop me eating it all up. The chicken was a proper piece of breast meat, and not a crumbed blob as you might expect. My mum claimed the beefburger which looked nice and juicy and had some real cheese melted over the top. The BLT looked the least interesting of them all. They were pretty good.
The kids meals are pretty big and would suit even older kids. The pasketti and meatballs (again, their phrasing) was huge with eight meatballs. It was a bland, sweet tomato dish: exactly how my daughter likes it, with none of those pesky hidden vegetables I try and hide in mine.
The fish and chips came with two decently sized, 'tempura' battered pieces of fish (who knows what type) and a serve of large flat chips. It had a small salad, mostly lettuce with some cherry tomatoes and cucumber.
The girls were quite taken with their pink sports cups (there are eight different ones to collect).
The Carine is clean and pleasant and during the school holidays was a fabulous place to take hungry kids who were sick of being indoors. The adults were able to chat while still keeping an eye on the kids as they played. For what it is, it is pretty good.