When I was growing up, if parents took their kids to a pub they were likely to be locked up for child neglect but today pubs are not only letting our little people through the door, they are actively catering for them with dedicated kids' menus (or free meals), ample high chairs and change facilities, kids clubs and craft nights.
The Quarie in Hammond Park is one such pub. Built in the heart of the burgeoning southern suburbs, the Quarie is a monolith of vertical wooden panels and glass. It feels like a cavernous hunting lodge but with funky hanging pendants and soft-shell crab. And room for the kids.
Every Tuesday night, from 5.30pm to 8pm there are free organised craft activities for kids, the theory being that they are entertained while parents enjoy a leisurely dinner. It is becoming an increasingly popular trend across Perth, and for parents with small kids who feel they shouldn't be banished to fast food dives merely because they have children, it is a welcome one.
In fact The Quarie was awarded the 2012 AHA Casual Family Dining Award.
The Quarie promotes itself as being 'casual and cool', with an 'atmosphere of comfortable sophistication'. It has 'a seriously impressive beer, wine and cocktail list that compliments a modern menu and amazing specials'.
It's a pub.
But a nice one, with a large beer garden and no seedy sports bar.
The menu is typical of many gastro-pubs, although apparently the Quarie has its own fishing fleet in Shark Bay thus making seafood one of their specialties. You will find steak sandwiches and Wagyu beef burgers (both $24), pasta and gnocci dishes ($22.90-$24.90), pizzas ($19-22), steaks (starting at $30) and fish and chips ($24.90). This is not a 'cheap eats place' with the fish of the day special coming in at $36 the night we dined, and a 400g rib eye steak at $40.
I ordered the Szechuan pepper seasoned soft-shell crab with Asian noodle salad and house-made sweet chilli sauce ($30). It was a decent sized serve and the crab legs were nice and crispy.
My pregnant friend said she could smell the salt and pepper coming a mile away, but I didn't notice the Szechuan flavour. It was tasty but not over-powering. The sweet chilli sauce was delicious, more a dipping sauce though, and while the Asian noodle salad was undressed and very bland on its own, it benefited from me tipping the sweet chilli sauce on it. Maybe that was what I was meant to do.
My friends who were locals of the area said they almost always ordered the steak sandwich and it looked tasty and filling. At $24 it came with green salad and chips on the side, and included bacon and Swiss cheese, BBQ sauce, aioli, tomato salsa and caramelised onion. So basically it is a condiment burger.
On the menu, every dish comes with a wine and beer suggestion which is a great way to learn more about matching food and drinks.
The kids menu ($10 for kids under 10 years with a free juice or soft drink) has four options: pasta, nuggets, fish and chips and a cheese burger. The icecream seems relatively pricey at $5.
The Quarie came across as a pleasant place to eat, perhaps on the pricey end of the spectrum, but with a friendly atmosphere, plenty of space and – importantly – room and activities for the kids.