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 September 8th 2013
A High Degree of Professionalism
I don't think it's any big secret that I like pub food. I also like fine dining food. Let's face it ... I just like food.
But above all, I value professionalism. Watching or experiencing someone do something well is always a joy, and when it's food that they do well, it's a double joy for me.
Pork Belly and Scallops (Photo by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Which is why eating at the Mundaring Hotel over the past few years has become an increasing pleasure. The management of the hotel know what their customers want and ensure that those wants are fulfilled is their highest priority.
When the present management took over the hotel was showing its age, a grand old lady ready for retirement, a good lie down and possibly a Bex. Under the inspired and energetic management she has had a face-lift, a rejuvenation and looks set to last another hundred years.
The restaurant within the pub has had an even bigger overhaul. On the occasion of my last visit, well over a year ago I was pleasantly surprised at the substantial improvement in the food and service. Standards are hard to maintain in the hospitality industry and it was with some trepidation that I returned to see how things were going. The chef that was there previously had moved on, as chefs are wont to do, and been replaced by Chef Donna.
The menu, while retaining all the things that a pub menu should have, has added a few extras, which made selection of dishes just a bit difficult.
Ribs and Chips (Photo by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Of course the temptation is to order their famous steak sandwich, a finalist in the last three years' 'WA's Best Country Pub Steak Sandwich' competition and one-time winner.
But, some of the more exotic dishes caught my imagination and I began with pork belly and scallops ($21) while James chose an old favourite - lemon pepper squid ($17).
The dishes when they came, which was pretty swiftly, were just beautifully presented.
[ADVERT]The pork in particular was a work of art, not at all what one expects in a pub. The scallops were cooked to perfection, and I know from personal experience just how hard that is - there's a window of about twenty seconds between perfection and disaster.
The pork, in darling little squares, was wonderful, the crackling crisp and the meat tender and savoury. Both rested on a sweet pea purée that just set off the flavours of the two meats to a nicety.
James' squid was tender, well-seasoned and delicious. We washed this down with the server's suggestion of Strawberry-Lime Cider from Rekorderlig, an excellent choice - crisp, not too sweet and deliciously refreshing.
By this stage we were making small grunting noises of appreciation and commenting on how good the food was with our mouths full.
Main course for me was, again at the server's suggestion, the modestly named 'Ribs and Chips' ($26). This was magnificent. It came with a finger bowl but wasn't needed the meat just fell off the bone in tender deliciousness.
Beef and Guinness Pie (Photo by J Sutherland-Bruce)
The sauce, of orange and bourbon to Chef's own recipe, was the magic needed to push an excellent dish into that rare category of 'superior to great'. The chips were pretty damn good too.
Nothing to look at, the ribs are a dish best appreciated by eating.
James' 'Beef and Guinness Pie' ($22) was outstanding - the meat chunky but tender and you can actually taste the flavour of the Guinness.
We were too full even to contemplate dessert, which was a pity because I would have liked to try what, in a auto-correcting error, was described as a 'Duo of Mouse' (sic).
The management of Mundaring Hotel have taken over the Mt Helena Tavern and are refurbishing it for re-opening later this month.
I can hardly wait to see what they'll do with it and look forward to sharing my findings.
Very highly recommended indeed.
Recorderlig Strawberry-Lime Cider (Photo by J Sutherland-Bruce)
We too went there a few months ago. Lovely setting on a nice sunny day. However fish and chips were quite overpriced and then we waited an hour for 2 steak sandwiches. The wait was not at all worth it. Steak was chewy and was quite disappointing really.
We went here a few weekends ago for "Sunday spit", we will never go there again, paying $15 for a roll full of coleslaw and slimy "spit" meat was highly disappointing. Beer was warm and service was terrible (waited over an hour for a "bowl" of hot chips ~ served in a cardboard takeaway container!). Friends had been there a few Sundays before us and they told us after our worst ever experience that their meal was served with broken glass in it!