After a long stint backpacking through Europe, The Novocastrian has returned to the Hunter to find the best of what is on offer on the home front.
Published May 14th 2014
Craft beer and cocktails with a royal twist
Walking into the recently opened King Bill IV in Maitland, it feels like you are in another place altogether. After just a few short months, this bar and restaurant specialising in craft beers and cocktails has already carved a name for itself among locals. And after visiting for the first time, it is easy to see why.
King Bill IV is a place that exudes atmosphere. From the moment you step inside, a huge colourful mural attracts your eye of all icons from the Maitland area. Candles on each table give a sense of intimacy, while the hanging exposed light bulbs and tables crafted from electrical cable barrels give that industrial chic vibe. A few moments inside and it's hard to even remember you're still in Maitland.
The Food: Looks aside though, King Bill IV delivers food and drink for any time of day. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from Wednesday – Sunday, the food here is more than the usual pub fare, and for the price you pay it really feels like bang for your buck.
For a starter, five spice squid with nahm jim sauce offers a different take on the old salt and pepper squid. Cooked to perfection and served with a couple of river prawns, this dish is an instant hit. Mains include dishes such as pizzas (priced between $12-$24), the tender 400g rib eye ($34.50) or the delicious steak burger with tomato relish, onion jam and slaw ($17). All menu items are named under what seems to be a medieval theme, and after realising a 'food shield' was actually a pizza, it all adds to the character.
The menu also has an emphasis on sharing, no doubt to be washed down with a few different craft beers from the selection of 12 beers on tap. At a table nearby, a group of guys are spotted making clean work of a bucket of ribs. From the way they are licking their fingers, the ribs look like a winner as well.
But one of the real stars here is the dessert. A Facebook post from King Bill IV last month advertised a coffee-flavoured crème brulee served with an espresso martini for just $20. With specials like that, it's enough to make the trip just for the dessert. On this visit, all desserts were served with a delectable chai latte gelato, a perfect flavour combination.
The Drinks Although it may appear to be a restaurant by day, King Bill IV takes on a different personality when night time rolls around. Live music from a guitarist singing in the corner sets the mood for a perfect night with friends to have a few drinks. And for the craft beer lover, King Bill IV is a place that delivers.
With Maitland locals warming to the taste of beer besides the average Tooheys, it's nice to see a place serving up options such as the Belgian Troubadour, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and others on tap.
For the non-beer drinkers, there's a range of cocktails (all $15) and a wine list (various reds and whites). The Pimms cocktail featuring sparkling cucumber water is a zingy and unexpected taste that goes down very easily.
One of the cocktails on the menu at King Bill IV- the classic margarita
King Bill IV is a place that really seems to be catering for all. Large families with toddlers are in there by day, and by the end of the night it's packed with people dancing and sipping a few craft beers and cocktails. Either way, it is a welcome change to the Maitland restaurant and bar scene and if the service on our first visit is anything to go by, it will have people coming back for more.