When I suggested to my friend we have dinner at the Hyde Park Hotel, he looked sceptical. He remembered what it used to look like – a tired, dated and slightly dodgy looking suburban pub.
However, in August 2011 the Hydey underwent a massive renovation and has come out the other side with more than just a new coat of paint and some rather impressive gas heaters that shoot flames two feet in the air.
The gas heaters look spectacular and are effective
The Hyde Park Hotel has different spaces that can keep a variety of patrons happy. I'd almost call it an identity crisis. There is the sports bar with pool tables, two indoor dining area with quite different moods, and two outdoor courtyard areas. I ought to know, we ended up sitting in practically all of them over the course of the night.
The Hyde Park is a pub, so you can't expect fine dining. That being said, the menu covers all the bases (even if the dessert menu has a weird love affair with cheesecake), there are plenty of specials, and the food was good quality with generous serves. Belonging to the 'Great Food Great Value' group, the Hyde Park Hotel has regularly changing meal specials such as the 'Celebrating Seniors Month' special which gives you corned mash silverside, mashed potato and vegetables with soup or dessert for $10. Nice. Or the $4 Lime Swirl Cheesecake. Yuck. Click here for current specials.
The menu is broken down into the very use-friendly sections as follows: stuff to start, green stuff, burger n stuff, pubby stuff, main stuff, grilled stuff and sweet stuff. You get the point… and stuff.
It's actually very comprehensive, and considering it is a pub there are plenty of options if you're feeling a bit healthy (Cajun steak salad, roasted vegetable salad, chicken salad $21.90-$23.50), just want a burger (pesto veggie burger, steak sandwich, chicken burger, Hydey Wagyu burger $18.50-$20.90) or want a hard core meat meal (rump, porterhouse, eye fillet, mixed grill $23.50-$42.90).
There is also plenty of 'stuff' in between such as pasta of the day, risotto ($24.90), Asian tuna ($28), pumpkin, spinach and feta tart ($20.90), pie floater ($19.50) and garlic prawns ($27.50).
You noticed the prices? Not the cheapest pub meal, so it's fortunate that the quality is pretty good and the service was fantastic. Actually, the staff were some of the nicest people I had met in a long time. Even when they took forever taking my order because the new girl pressed the wrong button on the till, or when the waiter couldn't answer my question and had to go ask the kitchen staff, they were just so charming that it was hard to find fault.
I am 'trying' to eat healthy, so while I really wanted the king pork cutlet with mash, bacon wrapped asparagus, apple crisps and red wine jus ($29.90) or the panko crumbed squid ($17.50) I ordered the roasted vegetable salad ($21.90) instead. Cubes of dukkah roasted sweet potato, triangles of roasted beetroot, a few slivers of roasted eggplant, pumpkin, crumbles of ricotta cheese, a healthy quantity of baby spinach and a generous sprinkling of pine nuts came dressed with a tasty balsamic vinaigrette. It was simple enough, but very nice.
The only complaint I have is that eating whole baby spinach – with its perky little stems - at the best of times is a difficult undertaking, but when it is covered in dressing it becomes an undignified mess. Otherwise it was a tasty and substantial meal.
My friend asked me to order the 250gram graziers porterhouse ($28.90) which comes with chips and salad plus a choice of sauce (mushroom, three pepper, béarnaise, garlic, red wine, seeded mustard). But it turns out that Tuesday is Chewsday Steak Night, and it was a bit hard to turn down the offer of a 250gram rump steak (with choice of dressing and chips) for $13 or 400grams for $18. Bargain!
What? I got him the big one.
When it arrived it did look a little too charred, but on first taste it was a perfect medium rare as ordered.
Just in case almost half a kilo of meat isn't enough protein for you, on Chewsday night, you can also upgrade your meal, and add crumbed calamari, egg and bacon, fried soft shell crab or grilled prawns for an extra $5.
The desserts menu was a bit of a let-down, considering how extensive the main menu was. Far too many cheesecakes for my liking. The only other options were an individual chocolate mousse, or a red velvet cake. We ordered the red velvet cake, and it was tasty enough, but had obviously been brought in from somewhere. It had a slightly mass produced taste to it, and had been refrigerated, so was a bit hard and cold.
Considering my love affair with breakfast, if the Hydey served brekky I would definitely be there to check it out, as I suspect it would have some fine offerings. Alas, it open at 11am on weekdays, and 10am on the weekends, but not for breakfast. For beer.
The Hyde Park Hotel has a TAB and also has live entertainment on Thursdays through Sundays. They have Hydey Hours (aka Happy Hours) twice a day, every day from 11am to noon and then from 4-5pm offering $4 middies, $7 pints, and $6 basic spirits.