Any Newtown newcomer may not think much of the Cooper's Arms if they just walked past it, taking a glance in the windows. Yes it's had a bit of a spit-and-polish but it still retains that beaten-up Aussie pub vibe. Old dudes and weathered folk wearing flannies, ducking outside for a fag as they grasp a schooner and fumble for a lighter. Sports and racing up on the flat screen tv's, even tranny bingo on Monday's. It's a mixed bag at the Cooper's; as eclectic as its neighbourhood.
Upstairs the scenery becomes a little more civilised. A room strewn with tables, designer wallpaper over near the kitchen, a pretty bar and an open-air beer garden for those that like a bit of sunshine or a smoke with their beers or chardies. The blackboard menu looks pretty good as well. The spiced lamb burger (18.5) with smoked eggplant relish, tzatziki and flaccid kumera chips was tasty enough but the proportion of the bun with the meat patty was way out of whack.
The seven spices soft shell crab (23.5) is an impressive mountain piled high with bean sprouts, leaves and crispy noodles. Not sure where the spices came into it as I barely noticed a thing. Still, it's a pretty good feed.
Some grilled barramundi (22.5) came slumped over a pile of mixed leaves, avocado, tomato and very minimal coriander pesto. Again, not a wow moment for a bistro but if you dished this up at home you'd be chuffed with the effort. The slow-cooked pork belly (28) was quite good, teetering on a pile of kumera, bok choy, some apple & chilli chutney and anise-infused maple syrup. Quite sweet overall, but filling nevertheless.
The brûlée (10) is served in a cup and on this particular visit came loaded with raspberry compote and some shortbread. Pretty good stuff. Whether it's beers with the mates or an afternoon of lounging and eating, the Cooper's is a good contender on Newtown's main drag.Cooper's Arms Hotel Bistro221 King StreetNewtown 204202 9550 3461Mon-Sat 12pm-10pmSun 12pm-9pmwebsite