I see food part II: I eat food and drink beer.

Trip Start May 31, 2012
Trip End Aug 08, 2013

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Where I stayed
Sundowner Jika International Melbourne
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Saturday, December 8, 2012

A mainstay in Australian dining and culture is the pub. Like a British pub, families will gather for their meals, a drink and a game or two before the party starts. The food is generally good, compared to their Canadian counterparts, but not terribly inspired- unless you are in the city.

Kingston has two pubs- which are really big old hotels. They have big dining rooms, seating over 100 people, and questionable hotel rooms upstairs. They have pokies (VLTs) tucked into the corners. The menus are similar- chicken schnizel, fish, or burgers with a side of fries and salad bar for about $20.  That said, they do the basics well. The fish and chips aren't over-cooked, a burger is loaded with tasty toppings, and the salad bar could be a meal unto itself. In my opinion, Canadian pubs have set the bar incredibly low, so it was a welcome surprise that I like
eating at the pubs here. Not only is the “tucker” good, but the beers are too. Unlike their Canadian counter-parts, the pubs of Australia seem to clean their draught taps and lines regularly- maybe because the Canadians are meeker and will put up with dirty tasting beer rather than complain? The other benefit of Australian pubs is that they are a wealth of local stories. If you want to learn a bit about the small town you're in, a pub is arguably more informative than any information centre.

Dave and I are Wednesday after work regulars at the Royal Mail Hotel-pub. With my co-workers, we mark hump day at the table near the jukebox with a little gossip, speculation and drinking. I've always romantisized being a regular at the local bar, and having the bartender know your usual drink.  I'd have to say it is pretty fun, even though the routine doesn't change much from week to week. We take our same table, order our regular drinks, and watch the same people walk and drive by. We talk about the same things and make the same jokes. It has been said that the problem with the politicians in America is that they no longer go for drinks together, and I would have to agree that partaking in a drink and a bit of conversation is a wonderful way to all get along a bit better.

For research purposes, we spent last weekend in the pub district of Melbourne. It is a small area north of downtown called Fitzroy. Melbourne is a city of nearly 4 million, and is well known for its micro-breweries. Their wares can be found at the pubs down and around Brunswick street. We stopped at a few places and most pints were $8-9, compared to $5-6 for the more standard beers at the Royal Mail. For our quick weekend get-away I was prepared to pay a premium for something other than the regular Wednesday night drink. Australia really does have some great beers aside from the Fosters that is imported world-wide. In fact, we have yet to see Fosters anywhere! Our favourites so far are Hahn Super Dry, Coopers Pale Ale and Victoria Bitter.

We ate at a pub called “The Wilde” on Gertrude Street in Melbourne. Now you might think that with a name like that the place would be filled with English graduate students wearing berets, loudly debating the relevance of post-modern philosophies. While our table was next to a shelf of books, and there was no Oscar Wilde at all, and the clientele seemed to be a mix of local families and friends. They served homemade sausages at the Wilde, and I have a weakness for good sausages, especially when served with a bit of mashed potatoes and a side of kale. It was
tempting to hunker down there for the rest of the night but we had one more thing to do in Melbourne on a Saturday night.

A lot of the pubs in the cities have live music, so after a satisfying meal we headed around the corner and found a songstress who sang sweet tales of the zombie apocalypse. It capped off the evening just fine. What more could one want from an almost unplanned weekend in Melbourne? Good beer, tasty food and live music... I'm sure we will be back another weekend to explore
another neighbourhood.

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