Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published November 8th 2013
Great Pub Food
I am very happy to confirm to you, dear reader, that the Mount Helena Tavern has now re-opened and the kitchen is in operation.
Mount Helena Tavern
Even more importantly the months that the Mounties has been closed have not been wasted time - the new management, the same management that rescued, refurbished and restored the Mundaring Hotel, have breathed new life into this Hills landmark with an unknown, but substantial amount of money being expended in doing up the fabric of this grand old lady.
For the first time in years, even decades, the men's toilet is immaculate, the daddy-long-legs of generations evicted, fresh paint and gleaming tiles have transformed the necessary place into a temple of hygiene.
The whole place has had a face lift, but the change is good deal more than cosmetic. However, the kitchen, which needed more work than expected and which took longer than expected - how unusual for a building extension ... ...
But it does mean that the kitchen is not yet in full operation and truly wasn't really ready for a full review by a critic but I couldn't wait.
Not that the food wasn't good, it was, but the dessert list was limited to ice cream and the coffee machine had yet to be installed (although it probably now is).
James and I dropped in anyway, and were mightily pleased with the progress. The inside seems so much bigger, more open and the new colours are cleaner and fresher.
There is a large range of ciders, both on tap and bottled. We had the Recorderlig Strawberry-lime served over crushed ice - delicious.
The entrees offered three slices of Garlic bread ($8), as well as 'light' meals - don't take 'light' too literally, we saw plates being taken to other tables - Bangers and Mash ($15); Beef and Guinness Pie ($22), BLT ($16), a Caesar Salad ($18) and James' choice of a Steak Sandwich ($22 - see picture).
Steak Sandwich from Mount Helena Tavern (Photo by D Sutherland-Bruce)
All of these are served with some outstandingly good hand-cut chips, which are available on their own as a bowl with a choice of sauce, either tomato, sweet chilli, sour cream or bbq ($9).
I selected an old favourite - the baldly named 'Ribs & Chips' ($26). This was two full plates of pork ribs marinated and braised in a rich, slightly sweet barbecue sauce. The ribs were wonderfully tender and complexly flavoured.
BBQ Ribs from Mount Helena Tavern (Photo by D Sutherland-Bruce)
The ribs were an immediate selection, but not an easy one - the range of excellent, comforting, pub grub is impressive.
Beef Schnitzel ($25) with pepper or mushroom sauce, Chicken Parmigiana ($26), a pasta of the day, Fish and Chips, Curry of the day, Garlic Prawns ($25) and steaks - T Bone and Scotch Fillet ($32 each).
Service was swift, despite the Mounties being busier than expected, the loyal supporters of the pub rallying round their icon.
James and I were very pleased with the progress thus far and the upcoming plans for future improvements, and most importantly the food - which was delicious, plentiful, well-cooked, excellent value and served quickly and politely.
Mount Helena Tavern
I will return again soon and re-evaluate what I am confident will be the finished product that the Mounties will become. The change of management has resulted in nothing being lost, and a great deal gained.
Phoned them asked what time they were open for food on the Saturday, told 12.00 to 10.00pm, booked a table for 6 for the Saturday at 4pm, arrived at 2 mins to 4pm, went inside to confirm where our table was, we had the pick of any table we wanted, we asked for the menus only to be told the Kitchen will be open at 6pm. oh dear me we had booked the table as a celebration meal for my parents 60th wedding anniversary, not a good way to run a Tavern we live 5 mins walk from the Tavern, but we will not be going there again day ruined,:-(
Been there twice since it re opened but I won't waste my time on a third, staff are rude, stood at the bar 4 minutes while the two bar maids had a chat to each other. A friend asked for a coffee but was refused as the staff did not to do it and said so plainly, the second visit was no better with lazy staff who would not even get a wine list and pointed with her head where it was.
Our group of over 20 hills people were not impressed with the service or food when it finally arrived two hours after being ordered and it was a quiet day and we had pre booked.
So never again.