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 August 13th 2015
Food is to eat, not to frame and hang on the wall
Mt Helena Tavern is the classic local country pub - the heart of the local community, a place of convivial meeting, a place to swap stories, have a pint and a bite and enjoy the warmth of fellowship.
The Mounties Garlic Bread (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
The Mt Helena Tavern, more familiarly known as 'The Mounties' has had some ups and downs the last few years with changes of management, service, chef and even the fabric of the building.
But things have settled down a bit now. Dannyel, the owner and manager, has recruited a well-known Hills chef of great experience and talent to create a new menu based on the expectations of a critical band of loyal patrons.
The menu contains everything you want it to - from Chef Kevin's fantastic famous ribs to a new, elegant dessert, of which more later.
Chef Kevin's glorious ribs (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
The Mounties, a Grande Dame of a building has been scrubbed from top to bottom til it sparkles and sitting in the sharp winter sunlight at the lime-washed table, warm and comfortable it was hard not to feel just a little bit sorry for anyone who wasn't with us.
The menu is basically pub grub, but beautifully prepared and well-presented. It's also surprisingly large. Starters, for example, include Garlic Bread ($8); Prawn Twisters ($15); Crumbed Calamari ($15); Salt and Pepper Chicken ($18); Sizzling Garlic Prawns ($20) and what we in fact chose to share between us, Homemade Prawn and Fish Cakes with a homemade sweet chilli and lime sauce and a light salad.
Homemade Prawn and Fish Cakes (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Between that and the really excellent Garlic Bread we had a handsome entree, unaware of the size of the mains just about to be delivered by the charming and efficient Rosie, our server.
The choice for mains is extensive - pizzas, pub classics (Steak Sandwich, Chicken Parmi, Fish and Chips and Angela's choice of The Mounties Burger) traditional fare (Bangers and Mash or Beef and Guinness Pie) and a group called simply 'Mains', including Crispy Pork Belly ($28) Szechuan Kangaroo ($28) and Honey Mustard Chicken Medallions ($26) alongside Prawn Linquine ($26).
In addition to all these there were five 'specials of the day', from which, after long internal debate I chose the 'Ribs and Chips' ($28). Actually, that's nonsense I put in just to make it sound better. The actual conversation went like this:
"Rosie, hi. Is Kevin doing ribs?" Yes" Right then, I've have that thanks."
I've eaten Chef Kevin's ribs before, so I know just how good they are and I was thrilled to be able to have them again.
A very handsome portion, smothered in delicious sauce with a large serve of lovely crisp fresh chips and a serve of home-made coleslaw.
Absolutely delicious, messy, glorious and filling.
A Mountie's Burger (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Angela's burger was also delicious, the patty thick and made of the best beef - succulent and rich, all a really good burger should be and again, accompanied by hot chips.
Ideally, we should have stopped there, but of course we couldn't - I had a serve of the Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce and Ice Cream ($12).
Chef Kevin's Sticky Date Pudding (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
We strongly resisted temptation and cancelled the Coffee Pannacotta, but Chef craftily sent out a portion 'just to try'.
Chef Kevin's pannacotta (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
It's described as 'OMG' on the menu - take it from me, that's an understatement. Without Angela's restraining hand I'd have licked the plate.
A good cup of coffee each and we waddled out to the car, happy, satiated and replete.
You may have tried The Mounties before during the 'troubles' and been less than happy. Please take my advice and give it another try.
Oh yes, and bear in mind that there are specials every day as well as the Kids' Menu, Live Music and a whole lot of other attractions.
Very Highly Recommended Indeed.
The winter creek at The Mounties (Photograph by D Broadbent)