SMH Good Pub Food Guide 2012


"A man walks into a bar". - No, in the context of this book, anyway, that's not the beginning of some lame joke.

Editor Keith Austin quite clearly believes that when people go to a pub (while of course they will be looking for a beer and other things to drink) they are also searching for food that is worth their time and money.

In this era of pub grub and the rather unfortunately-named 'gastro-pubs' how does NSW shape up? Rather well, it seems, according to Austin and his 72 reviewers who between them bellied up (which in this context is a pretty apt description) and sampled the fare from 518 pubs throughout the state. 

This second edition, of what will no doubt be a long series of guides, rates the various hostelries, and awards 'Schooners' to the best ones. One schooner means 'raise a glass of the good stuff', two is 'plenty of WOW factor', and three is 'gastro-tastic'. Only eight achieved the highest score, but interestingly five of these were in country areas.

Indeed the best overall pub was Burrawang Hotel at Burrawang in the Southern Highlands, which of course was also rated as the best country pub. Best city pub was the Four in Hand in Paddington, and best value for money Kogarah Hotel in Kogarah.

It's not all about beer and pies though. A wine glass symbol by an entry denotes a place which offers a good selection of NSW wines as well.

As judging systems go, the guidelines are impeccable. The experienced reviewers always visit anonymously and pay for their meals and drinks. 

This book would be a great gift for anyone who likes a night at a pub, who loves their beer, and just as importantly would like to enjoy themselves and eat well. With this book (or the app when it comes out) they should have many happy days and evenings ahead.

And most of us would raise a glass of the good stuff to such a prospect. 


The Sydney Morning Herald Good Pub Food Guide 2012, edited by Keith Austin, Fairfax Books, November 2011, rrp. $9.95, eBook $4.99. ISBN 978 1 921486 51 7

- Sally Hammond

What's your favourite NSW pub and why?


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