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The Stirling Arms Hotel

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by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce (subscribe)
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 July 11th 2019
Down to the old rubbedy-dub, for a pig's ear and a dog's eye
If it is true, as famously Frank Lloyd Wright said, that the hearth is the heart of any home, then I think we may assume that the local pup is the heart of any community.

It's a place to escape the day to day worries of life, meet boon companions, share a drink, have an inexpensive simple meal, enjoy a convivial atmosphere, exchange views and discuss events, sporting, political and trivial.

This naturally depends entirely on the quality of the local pup, of course.

The Stirling Arms Hotel, Guildford, Cellar Key, Brendan Craig, Garrick Theatre
The Stirling Arms in 1852


The Stirling Arms Hotel has a long and chequered history. It's the oldest continually licensed hotel in Guildford, which along with Perth and Fremantle was one of the first established towns in the new Swan River Colony.

So it has pedigree. It has changed hands a few times in the more than a century and a half of operating and in recently was showing some of its age. Looking a bit weary, like a Dowager Duchess down on her luck.

But it has recently been taken over by new hands and under hands-on Managing Director Brendan Craig is burgeoning again into the rightful centre of community focus.

The Stirling Arms Hotel, Guildford, Cellar Key, Brendan Craig, Garrick Theatre
The Stirling Arms in 2019 (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)


The fabric of the building has been restored, renovated, reconditioned, renewed and refurbished. But the owners have resisted the temptation to try and recoup their considerable outlay within the first six months with high priced food and expensive drinks. Clearly the new Stirling Arms Hotel management is in it for the long haul, and I for one am delighted that it is so.

I have eaten at newly revitalised Arms now several times over the last month or so and am in a reasonable position to advise you about its charms.

Firstly, from the point of view of visitor, not one staying in one of the nine newly refurbished suites or the three bedroom apartment, but someone who's just dropped in for a pint and a pie, there are three options - inside in the general bar, with the vast TV screens, inside in the snug watching the pool players or outside in the large al fresco area.

The Stirling Arms Hotel, Guildford, Cellar Key, Brendan Craig, Garrick Theatre
She re-done Stirling Arms Hotel (Photogrph courtesy The Stirling Arms Hotel)


This last would not seem a good choice in winter, but there are umbrellas and heaters and if its not actually raining, it's very pleasant.

In addition, there's a Drive-Through Bottle Shop with a wide range of grog.

One fronts up to the bar and orders both food and drink - menus are scattered around outlining options as well as specials such as the Tuesday's $15 Parmy, Chips and Salad, Wednesday's $15 Steak Chips and salad; or Sunday's $15 Roast. $15 goes a long way here. You take a table number and when it's ready someone will bring it to your table - in a remarkably short space of time given how busy they were.

The Stirling Arms Hotel, Guildford, Cellar Key, Brendan Craig, Garrick Theatre
Slow-roasted Pork and crackling (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)


The first time I came, in a group, and we had a few bowls of chips ($7) together with plates of Spicy Reggae Wings ($12) and Salt and Pepper Squid ($14.50). The first mouthful and I sat up and thought, as one does, 'Hell-o, this is good stuff!' We proceeded to make short work of the food and ordered more, washed down, in my case, with truly excellent pints of Hello Sunshine Cider (on tap).

Bolstered with thoughts of the snacks the next visit I ordered a meal, one of the 'Big Plates" - Slow Roasted Pork Belly with chips, served with a very nice jus and a crisp green salad ($27). Exceptional value for money and cooked to perfection, the pork tender and tasty almost beyond belief, the crackling going off with a muffled gunshot as you bite down on it. Absolutely delicious.

The Stirling Arms Hotel, Guildford, Cellar Key, Brendan Craig, Garrick Theatre
Now that's a burger! (Photograph courtesy Stirling Arms Hotel)


The other offerings in the range are either beer-battered or grilled fish with chips ($23); 250g Char-grilled eye fillet ($39.50); 300g Char-grilled sirloin ($35.50); the Pie of the day ($21) or the simple classic Chicken Parmigiana ($24). I haven't had the Chicken Parmy, but I have excellent reports of it.

These are the extreme ends of the menu - a light snack or a full meal, but there are a great number of choices in between.

There is a small range of pizzas - Sassy Seafood, Meat Almighty, Garden Gifts, Pigs Palace and Speakeasy (you will notice that a truly twisted mind named them - I admire that) These range in price from $19.50 for the vegetarian to $26.50 for the seafood, with most costing $22 for a decent size pizza.

The Stirling Arms Hotel, Guildford, Cellar Key, Brendan Craig, Garrick Theatre
Salt and Pepper Squid (Photograph courtesy of Stirling Arms Hotel)


There's a range of pasta too, with different styles and sauces - Fettuccine Puttanesca ($22); Prawn and Crab Tagliatelle ($29.50) or Tagliatelli with chicken and bacon ($22).

For groups, there are 'Share Platters'. Either the Stirling Teaser with chorizo, hummus, pesto, meatballs, chicken wings of various kinds, vegetables, chips and Turkish bread ($39.50) or the 'Vego Share Plate' ($32.50) of Sweetcorn fritters, roast pumpkin, marinated mushrooms, pickled vegetables, hummus, feta cream, pesto, olives chips and more Turkish bread.

If a burger takes your fancy I can personally recommend the Stirling Wagyu Burger ($23) with its Wagyu beef patty, bacon, salad, pickled cucumber, fried onion, cheddar with aioli and tomato sauce in a Focaccia bun, accompanied by those excellent Stirling chips.

The stirling Arms Hotel, Guildford, Cellar Key, Brendan Craig, Garrick Theatre
Luvveryly grub at The Stirling Arms Hotel (Photograph courtesy of Stirling Arms)


Or you might like a simple Steak Sandwich ($24) of a marinated steak fillet, bacon, caramelised onion, salad and mayonnaise between toasted sourdough slices.

There is Kids Menu of $10 each for Ham and Pineapple Pizza or Penne Pasta in Napolitana Sauce or Chicken Nuggets and Chips or Fish and Chips.

In the unlikely case, you still have not eaten sufficient there is dessert ($11) - White Chocolate and Pistachio Brulée; Gourmet Sorbets; Blondies (Brownies made with white chocolate or Mango and Passionfruit cheesecake.

We haven't talked about the drinks, and I'm not going to - go along and have a browse yourself. Beers, Wines (red, white and sparkling) Spirits, Cocktails, Mocktails and liqueurs as well as a goodly range of beers and a cider on tap.
The stirling Arms Hotel, Guildford, Cellar Key, Brendan Craig, Garrick Theatre
Chicken Wings - delicious and spicy (Photograph courtesy Stirling Arms Hotel)


The Stirling Arms Hotel has put together some innovative approaches - for example, the 'Cellar Key' Club - free to join at the Bottle Shop, benefits including $2.99 Pints of Swan Valley Lager, $6.50 House Spirits and $6 House Wines.

They've also entered into an arrangement with the local theatre company, Garrick Theatre, offering a $20 drink and meal deal including parking on presentation of your theatre ticket.

Billed as 'The Home of the $2.99 Pint' the Stirling Arms Hotel is very well worth a visit.

Very Highly Recommended Indeed.
The stirling Arms Hotel, Guildford, Cellar Key, Brendan Craig, Garrick Theatre
Luvveryly grub at The Stirling Arms Hotel (Photograph courtesy of Stirling Arms)
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Why? A great local pub
When: Seven days a week , noon until late
Phone: 6142 4352
Where: 117 James Street, Guildford, WA
Cost: $2.99 pints
Your Comment
Good description
by janea (score: 1|43) 35 days ago
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by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce on 16/03/2016
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