I just love a good pub.
There is nothing quite like that welcoming, warm embrace that envelops your soul as you walk into a good pub. Your spirits are lifted, your heart is eased and for a while any issues you have are checked at the door. What I am talking about is worlds away from the finely crafted, vast, pokie spouting, corporate watering holes you find dotted around the place. I am talking about genuine country hospitality and service. True character that cannot be manufactured or built into a modern setting.
There will be fireplaces in winter and cooling breezes in summer. There will be a good range of beers on tap, and a wine list showing character and individuality. The food should be interesting and clever, but not challenging or confusing. Schnitzels and burgers are fine (nothing wrong with either of these things at all!), but give us something else on the menu to be considering. Make sure that there is proper consideration for vegetarian options, not just throwing things on as an afterthought.
Most importantly though, I want to feel that the people there behind the bar and taking the orders really want to be there. They want you to feel at home. They are really trying to look after you. Their welcoming smiles are just that – not an employment directive.
As luck would have it, all these things were (pretty much) ticked off by the revamped Uraidla Hotel. And I only say pretty much, because the summer bit hasn’t come around yet.
I was invited along for the soft opening, so the evening was pretty much free of charge, but as always this has not infliuenced my opinions in any way.
The hotel itself is fantastic. There is so much to like about it, with some very clever and interesting touches around the place just waiting to be discovered. Be it the various different lighting sources, the clever use of rakes to hold wine glasses, or an alternative use for some old beer kegs that the guys reading this can discover – there has clearly been a lot of thoughts gone into it.
There are many different rooms and spaces to the pub, which is usually the case with these old buildings as they just dont make them like this any more. “The Nook” is definitely something out of the ordinary, being a personal little space complete with its own fireplace. Claiming that early in an afternoon or evening is going to be high on my agenda, thats for sure.
Turning to the food, the menu is divided up into various farm themed sections (in terms of the naming at least). The ‘early crop’ – entree’s to you and I – is full of some genuinely interesting things with confit squid and pickled fennel rubbing shoulders with smoked bbq ale beef ribs and some absolutely delicious beetroot and quinoa fritters (amongst other things).
Main crop has a burger, ‘snitty’ and fish & chips – but then a curry, rabbit and pancetta pie and a roasted pumpkin with grains and chard mix things up. A Moroccan lamb and gains ensemble, rolled pork belly, and a classic steak and potato duo round out the bigger plate options.
The rabbit pie got my attention, and it didn’t disappoint at all. The pastry was good enough by itself, but that filling…..just so much winning going on there. The sauces with the pea and leek on the plate lifted this and brought some freshness to things. A cracking plate, make no mistake. The steak was also a good steak, but it was the potato “brik” that got our attention, with layers of thinly sliced potato cooked with butter and seasoning. So simple, but so perfect with a steak.
Desserts are 5 in number, and between us at the table we got to sample quite a few. The self saucing mocha pudding with coffee bean brittle and crème fraiche got my vote and I was a very happy camper indeed. Rich, chocolate and coffee infused saucy pudding, yet the crème fraiche tarting things on the side to keep you focussed on the job at hand. The vanilla bean panna cotta was pretty much perfect, with a rhubarb compote and ginger biscuit crumble to mix the textures and flavours.
A rocky road sundae is never a bad thing and this looked really colourful and playful on the plate, and was consumed in much the same way. Banana chip sundae with vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce was a much enjoyed option, and rounding things out on the menu is a baked local cheese with moscato pickled muscatels and some toasts. Might have to find some room for that another time.
Kiddies are also looked after via a variety of things, including a vegetarian cheesy vege slice which is a nice touch. However the popping candy sundae with either chocolate, strawberry or lime sauce will have to be ordered for me some time I suspect!
The wine list is full of interesting options by the bottle, however the by-the-glass options are a little thin. I would like to see a couple more on there just to round it out a bit. What is on there is more than serviceable of course, but for options sake this is a minor glitch on an otherwise excellent report card.
The bottom line is simple – if you want to experience some excellent Adelaide Hills hospitality, dishing out some excellent food in a thoroughly charming environment, then the newly re-opened Uraidla Hotel is going to suit you very nicely. Its already at the top of my go-to list.
The Uraidla Hotel is located at 1198 Greenhill Rd, Uraidla.