What do you want in a local pub? Most blokes want a beer on tap and perhaps a punt, sometimes some grub, like a burger. Girls sometimes want a wine or a cocktail. And the girls want the place to look good. All of us need a place where we are welcome, where we are regulars, where "everybody knows your name."
The Balmain Hotel ticks all the boxes. It's a corner establishment with a cosy public bar, downstairs dining room with a fire for winter and a super-fan-bloody-tastic three level outdoor beer garden. Photo-booth pics of locals are pegged along a downstairs wall. The licensee and the staff get to know the patrons and look after them well.
There's beers, a good list of wines by the glass including a French, and some of the best pub cocktails we've had in a while. And an extensive and interesting cocktail menu: four Tiki Glassses ($17) Passionfruit Caprioska or Caprinha, Tommy's Margarita, Maple Jim Bean Old Pal, Honey Whisky Sours; five Mary Antoinette Glasses (from $16) Aviation Yvette, Fresh Fruit Daiquiri, Salted Caramel Martini, Café Patron Espresso Martini, Jalapeno & Watermelon Margarita; four Tom Collins Glasses (from $16) Jalapeno Bloody Maria, Green Apple Tom Collins, Appleton Pineapple Mojito, Kentucky Mint Julep; and four others Balmain Aperol Spritz ($12) "Insert Spirit" Fresh Apple ($12), Lychee Cosmo ($16), Balmain Millionaire ($16). As well as Tanqueray Gin Sodas (pink grapefruit lemonade or ginger $12) and booze juice fruit frappes. We likey! They also give good Share & Jugs.
Pink and green and grey bar stools mix and match with tropical kitsch; The Balmain Hotel is the only place we know that does plastic flowers well; it helps that they sit beside Hermès wallpaper (and we're not talkin' about the Greek god). Classy is an understatement. It's that laid back kind of pink flamingo cool that is just right for Balmain. And when we say Balmain, we love that this pub is tucked away, well off the main drag.
The centre of the dining room menu is Burgers Served With Fries. Great value from just $16 for the Cheese Burger: wagyu beef, cheese, tomato mustard sauce and a pickle; for an extra the Balmain Burger is even more substantial with bacon, lettuce and beetroot also added between the buns. There's six savoury burgers on the menu (if you don't count the Salted Caramel Sliders for dessert): Pulled prok with slaw, Mahi Mahi grilled fish burger with avocado and our top pick - the Soft Shell Crab Burge with sriarcha mayo, shaved fennel and green chilli slaw. And for the vegetarians, or those wanting a meat break the Falafel burger adds beetroot, tahini dressing, labna and kale slaw to the spiced chickpeas. Yum yum all burgers on a soft bun!
The Balmain Hotel also does shares from $8.50 - $15 or more great value - choose any 3 for $35: Marinated Olives; Jalapeno Croquettes; Salt & Pepper Squid; BFC Balmain Fried Chicken; Zucchini Flowers; Field Mushroom Arancini; Peking Duck Steamed Buns. And there are four terrific salad chices, as well as beer battered barramundi, steaks, ribs, schnitzels and a hearty Beef cheek, ale and bacon pie.
Want more? $1 dumplings Thursday nights; DJ Husky Friday nights; DJ Kate Munro Saturday nights; Sunday (lunch and dinner) roasts top off the local pub specials.