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Monday, August 07, 2006

Steak N' Chicks Tuesday #4

Brrrr. And furthermore: BRRRRRR. A cold, dark night calls for a warm, dark pub, some Chicks to help fill it (at least one of whom is warm and dark), and any number of drinks at various temperatures, in lots of different shades.

1st August 2006 – The Australian Youth Hotel, Bay St, Glebe
http://www.australianyouthhotel.com.au/

The Place
I’ve got a crush on this pub. I’m thinking of buying it presents. It’s got pretty much everything – a dark, pubby feel, an open fireplace with couches, lots and lots of different sorts of beer, an impressive menu, an impressive assortment of courteous and attractive bar staff, a restaurant, and a beergarden. And that’s just the ground floor, people. It also sports Sport and Stand-Up Comedy, and has a separate room called Nude, which I think has the singular purpose of keeping the Beautiful People separated from us decent, beer-loving normal folk. Bless ‘em.
The AYH is dark in a good way – like chocolate, coffee, or Johnny Depp’s stubble. It has nooks, crannies, and a bar which forms the centrepiece of the main ground floor room, glowing like a magical fruitbowl full of really, really good-looking apples. The ceiling and walls are adorned with flags and pictures of the sporting variety, the restaurant section is cosy and just classy enough to distinguish it from the rest of the pub, without making itself elitist and up-its-own-arse. The beergarden is spacious and inviting, with a lovely bricky, woody, tree-y feel not quite spoilt by the Very Ugly Tables. We counted five of those upright UFO heater things, none of which were turned on when we arrived, resulting in surprised yelps when we sat down on very, very cold metal chairs.
Music inside was unobtrusive and Coldplay-based, and completely outdone by the cheesy Hammond-organ-and-maraca based cocktail music outside. I felt a bit like a martini-sipping 50s housewife, an image only spoilt by the fact that I’m quite obviously a beer-gulping single sarcastic person. Nessie cocked her head and summarised perfectly by just saying “Murph and the MagicTones”.
Toilets were fairly non-descript (a silly thing to say when I’m about to describe them, really), comprising of two loos, two sinks, some tiles, and some wood.
Overall, a Bloody Nice Pub.

The People
A great turn-out this month – Alex, Fee (with gorgeous brochures again), Angela, Nessie, Meredith, Sam, Sarah and me becoming The Group Of People Too Big To Sit Anywhere But Outside. When Nessie, Meredith and I arrived we had our choice of seats, but an hour later the place was packed – the lovely staff in the restaurant initially told us we were welcome to eat our pub food (which is ordered from a separate menu) at the restaurant tables, but by the time we ordered, the beergarden was our only option. Luckily two members of the outrageously courteous staff toiled for several minutes to get us warm – the delightfully Scottish Neil led us outside and then, keeping some warranted obscenities un-uttered, struggled with a space heater until he managed to get it working. Thanks, Neil. Call me. Shortly afterwards, a female member of staff, with a Mohawk that detracted not one bit from her general aura of professionalism, tweaked the heater from My Coat’s Done Up To My Neck to Even My Toes Are Toasty, Thank You.
Have I mentioned that the staff here are lovely? I honestly don’t think I’ve come across a politer, more courteous and aesthetically pleasing bunch all in one spot before. The bar-folk were swift and pleasant, making sure we received our free meat-raffle tickets. I was a bit disappointed when they didn’t come outside to tell me that I’d won, although this was hardly surprising as my ticket didn’t have the same number on it as the winning one. Even the bouncer here was the essence of care and courtesy – opening the door for everyone, and asking Nessie in his Eastern European accent if she would like him to move every piece of furniture in the vicinity so that passing punters were less likely to brush past her shoulders. Bless you, Vladimir.
Clientele were just on the scruffy side of beautiful, and looked like they all had full bookshelves at home. Young and local, a huge number of them were scoffing themselves silly from the pub menu. And with bloody good cause, too…

The Food
As soon as I walked in the door of the AYH, I just knew they’d do a Beef And Guinness Pie. You can just tell. They also do a Sunday Roast, as announced via blackboard, which also listed dribble-inducing items such as Peking duck spring rolls, salt-and-pepper squid, James Squire Fish & Chips (gotta love a place that’s this specific about its batter), smoked chicken risotto, marinated salmon & prawn pizza, steak sarnie, and pork sausage with mash and onion & ale gravy (I refuse to say “jus”).
Nessie wrapped herself around the salmon pizza with intense enthusiasm, dolloped as it was with chunks of fresh fish on a perfect crispy base. “Balanced”, she said, before gleefully inserting another piece. Fee, Meredith and Alex all had the steak sandwich, which turned out to be a massive Turkish bready affair with grilled Mediterranean vegetables and mountains of crisp fries. Granted, Fee had ordered chunky chips, but her initial disappointment disappeared pretty quickly. “Tender”, the girls announced, before helping it disappear. Sam had the sausages & mash, which looked exactly as it should – a pile of good, warming stuff paddling in rich, dark gravy. “Great!”, she offered, before chasing another bit of banger ‘round the plate. Angela had the smoked chicken risotto, which went against the tradition set by almost every publicly-available risotto by actually not being salty enough. The smoked chicken, which provided little nuggets of badly-needed flavour, were a little too sparsely distributed to really do their job. “Not bad”, she said, before tidily processing another forkful. Sarah and I both ordered the burger, which was Everything A Burger Should Be. Great slabs of powdery damper barely containing a fat, charry wodge of ground beef, slightly spicy sauce, beetroot, tomato, bacon and onion, dwarfing both its very necessary toothpick and the mountain of fries surrounding it. “Mmmmfffrrfff”, I said, before cramming another very unladylike chunk into my mouth.
Portions were plentiful, climatically appropriate, and worthy of another mention of the excellent chips. I’d eat here every day if I could. And if I jogged for the other twenty-three hours.

The Summarising Bit
I’m going to gush, I’m afraid. I love this pub, and I’m going back – for the very excellent grub, the numerous entertainment options, the loungeroom-esque, welcoming d├ęcor, and the opportunity to further perv at the bar blokes. The ugly beergarden furniture, mildly ineffective outdoor heating and barely significant food shortcomings are the only things stopping me from giving this place ten out of ten. Get your bum out of that seat and go and see Vladimir.

1 comment:

shellity said...

Once again, you've made me hungry even though I've just finished lunch. Can't wait to be mobile and organised enough to join a Steak N Chicks Tuesday, if I may be so bold as to invite myself.
Might this pub be referred to as, "Oh my goodness, the chips!"?