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
Ingenuous though his reply may be, there is an element of truth in this, and certainly shome, er, sorry, some of the finest meals I've ever had have been found in pubs.
Take the meal I had recently at the Mundaring Hotel - a pub with a very long history indeed and one which has gone through several incarnations before landing into Jim and Dannyel's secure hands.
They have the will, and the resources, to restore, repair, replace and re-create. So far, the dining hall has been completely revamped in an enchanting light dove grey and rich burgundy. Very nice and equipped with rich wood tables and very comfortable chairs. Very comfortable chairs that encourage one to linger.
Now I have a confession to make. Usually when I'm working I take either a copy of the menu or extensive notes of prices, range and so on. But, we had such a good time, the three of us, that I entirely omitted to do either.
So I'm afraid I can tell you what we ate, and that the rest of the menu looked pretty enticing (decision was distinctly difficult) and the prices seemed moderate but beyond that - nothing, I was too concentrated on my food.
I began with an elegant garlic prawns and timbale of rice. The sauce light but rich and the prawns beautifully tender. James had the squid - always a risky dish. Squid is easy meat to get wrong, but here it was meltingly tender and the sauce perfection itself.
Angela was more torn than usual - the vegetable surprise attracted her - but it's a main course - and the pasta Carbonara attracted her, but it's also a main course - but by judicious juggling and the great kindness and forbearance of the waiting staff and chef something was arranged. The vegetarian dish was an absolute knockout, by the way, mushrooms and all - it comes with chips, too.
My main was a pastry-wrapped, slow roasted, lamb shank with roasted carrots a splendid mash and a rather nice salad, which I didn't eat because I filled up on the lamb. Beautifully cooked and unbelievably comforting.
It was excellent, but I did see a vast and steaming pile of BBQ ribs go past me to another table and I was consumed with envy. James had the Reef and Beef (Cod and Sod, Surf and Turf, Grass and, well you get the idea). Rather nice steak and prawns in an immaculate sauce.
Dessert is largely daily specials, very popular, and the unexpectedly large luncheon crowd had thinned the selection a bit, but we did manage to find something to tuck into.
The wine list is small but more than adequate and the spirit list is staggeringly long in the whisky/whiskey department.
Jim gave me a tot of twelve-year-old Japanese whisky to try, made from Scots imported water. Having last tried Japanese whisky in the 70s when it could easily have doubled for paint stripper, but this was something else, smooth and slightly sweet, but lacking the peaty bite of Celtic soil.
Jim has a vast and growing array of whiskies, which would well, be worth exploring at some point. But the food and service is only one part of a dining experience. Dare I use the word ambiance? But the whole dining experience at Mundaring Hotel was warmth, a comfortable ensconcing of one's whole being as guests in a very nice family home with good cutlery, linen napkins and usually a roaring open fire.
One gets the feeling that Jim, Dannyel, Chef and the staff really do care that you have a good time. And I'll tell you what makes me think that.
While congratulating chef on his cooking I mentioned the enviable plate of ribs and he sent out a tasting plate of a couple and they tasted every bit as good at they looked - so I know what I'm having next time, which will be soon, I hope.