We've been a bit despondent lately. It's been in relation to pubs, and the demise of the local. You know, the good old-fashioned pub like in that TV show Cheers where "everybody knows your name." After all, isn't that what a pub is about? So we've started a search to find the best local pubs in Sydney. Featured first up is Forest Lodge Hotel. That's also the name of the suburb where it's located, although Forest Lodge is sometimes also more easily located by its larger neighbouring Glebe.
Forest Lodge Hotel's motto is "your local." And it's true it has all the elements of a great local pub.
First up there are the beers, and rotating tap takeovers of craft beer. Such as Quiet Deeds, Lamington Ale, limited edition. Tick!
Then there's a goodly list of spirits. Botanic Australis Gin is a herbal complex gin infused with 14 native botanicals. If you're into G&T like us, give that Forest Lodge recommendation a go. Or if Scotch is more your poison from Glenmorangie ($10) to tullibardine ($15) they're well priced. The list also has a page each for other whiskies, bourbons, tequilas, and vodkas. Tick! For mixers it's good to see Aussie Capi behind the bar. More Ticks!
Terrific other finds like alcoholic ginger beer or scrummy winter warmer mulled cider. Tick again! And of course, wines - sparkling white and red - too.
You know what they say...
"If you're a pub without a pool table, you're not a bloody pub, are you?" Oh and there are pinballs. And there's trivia on Tuesday nights. Tick!
And what about the food? Well for a very pleasing change, it's most pub appropriate at the Forest Lodge Hotel from Bar Snacks, and Pizzas (with bases made fresh every morning, and nine choices of toppings from Queen Margherita to Hawaiian Hog), to Pastas and Bakes (you know like slow cooked beef ragu with tagliatelle & gremolata; house made baked gnocchi with tomato, mozz, Parmesan & rocket; baked eggplant & red pepper parmiagian; and two choices of risotto). And then there are our FAV-OUR-ITES: the Bun Stuffers.
Value Bun Stuffers start with four choices at just $13.50. Winner winner chicken dinner. Southern Fried Chicken Pocket has gorgeous secret spices in the luscious crust and comes complete with scrumptious house made slaw and chipotle mayo. The pocket is fluffy and light and completes this most satisfying pub food. Pockets also come as Pulled pork with Asian slaw & chilli jam; Lamb pocket grilled lamb loin, quinoa tabouli, hommus, aioli; and Falafel with hommus, tabbouleh, pomegranate. See what we mean... Pubilicious pub appropriate pub food just $13.50 each.
Under the Bun Stuffer banner on the menu there are also two burgers: Cheese Burger is prime beef, cheddar, pickles, lettuce, tom, mayo ($15.50) and is served with fries. At the same price the menu also offers Portuguese chicken burger, piri piri, cheese, coriander, mayo & lettuce.
Past all these and a range of salads (such as the wonderful classic Cobb) the menu lists eight abundant proportions of mains from Beer Battered Fish 'n' Chips ($17) to Angus Flank Steak ($29). We decided to go all Aussie Oi Oi Oi with Grilled kangaroo loin, beetroot, walnuts, goat's cheese & raspberry jus ($26) which we were told would come medium rare. In case you didn't know it, kangaroo is very lean and can be tough to cook; it needs to go one way or the other (either very rare or long slow cooked in a wet dish). So we asked for ours even rarer and that's how it came. Rare AND delicious. Although we were unsure about the raspberry (which seemed a bit 1990s) this combo was truly sensational, the raspberry working extremely well with the beetroot, goats cheese and walnuts, as well as the gamey meat. The only downside to the food that we could find was in the Fish curry; that the fish was swimming in a bit too much sauce. Oh well, the sauce was light and easily mopped up by the bowl of rice that came on the side.
Perhaps the biggest tick of all, beyond the twice weekly fresh food shopping and the way it is cooked in the savoury dishes, came in desserts. (As a SMH Good Pub Food Guide reviewer over a number of years I've eaten at my fair share of pubs.) It's hard to find a pub that makes their own desserts. But here - at the Forest Lodge Hotel - you have it. All the desserts are made in-house: Chocolate salted caramel tart with vanilla mascarpone ($14); Doughnuts chocolate ganache, raspberry jam & vanilla ice-cream; Eton mess and Cherry ripple ice cream sandwich ($7). But I think I want the Kids Sweets! Banana split with ice cream and chocolate sauce ($8) is making me hungry just thinking about it...
Located on a quiet corner but in walking distance from Parramatta Road and Sydney Uni, time to get yourself in for a bevvie and a bite to eat. And if it's a Wednesday night, a ticket or two in the meat raffle. If you need any more than good company, good drinks, good food and friendly service to be lucky!
Forest Lodge Hotel Outtakes:
We finished our night with our first ever Boilermates (the collaborative boilermaker from Jameson Caskmates and Young Henrys). Recommended. Actually addictive. So corrected to highly recommended. We will return!
Forest Lodge also heads our list of recommended events for Sydney Craft Beer Week 2016 representing SA craft beers in Pint Of Origin