I can’t help but feel for those resident boozers and pokie players when a pub succumbs to gentrification. They’ve been loyal for god know how long and suddenly their favourite watering hole decides to do an overhaul, sell off its poker machines and move in with designer wallpaper, scatter cushions and food served on slate. I’m not one to turn my nose up at a spit-and-polish, but where have all the boozers gone?
This particular boozer knew about the Duck and Swan before the revamp, yet somehow I never got there before it metamorphosed into the Duck Inn a couple of years back. Goodbye stale beermats and hello faux beach house. And I’m kind of grateful for the lack of astroturf; an accessory that’s donned by many revamped pubs these days.
For a pub that’s a little off-the-beaten-path, it sure isn’t ignored by the locals. Board games, comfy lounges and a spacious beer garden probably has a little to do with that. Can’t ignore the drinks list and decent menu, either.
This visitation was covered by Australia’s own Cake Wines; a bunch of young wine makers from the Adelaide Hills that want to shine a little more light on kitchens that don’t really make it to the leaderboard. So dinner for two it was. Two of the pubs favourite dishes matched with vino from Cake Wines.
Of the five entrées up for grab – all of which I’d probably want to try – it was the maple syrup & vodka cured salmon (16) that we scoffed whilst drinking an entire bottle of 2014 Pinot Gris. A very light white that mellowed the intensity of the applewood-smoked salmon. The clump of celeriac remoulade injected a little crunch and creaminess and along with the sweetness from the maple syrup, neither of us wanted it to finish.
One bottle of wine was probably enough, but there was the “Bindaree” eye fillet (32) to follow. That means red wine. Not a glass, not two, but another whole bottle – 2012 Shiraz with the body and balls that I love in any good gutsy red wine. It was going down way too easily and I’m sure my eyes were as glassy as hell. I did say boozer, remember?
Fillet steak would never be my first choice as I prefer a cut with more bite and flavour, but there was no denying this medallion of grass-fed beef was cooked to medium-rare perfection. Some crushed rosemary potatoes provided the podium, whilst a smear of earthy spinach purée provided the greenery. Roast cherry tomatoes brightened up the flavours, as did some tasty pan juice.
Desserts were on par with the chilly weather outside; both (12) served with cinnamon ice cream. The first, a densely layered chocolate and coconut brioche pudding, lightly drizzled with caramel sauce. The other, port-poached pear with ginger bread. Both quite good and not as filling as I’d anticipated.
hnf & co dined as guests of Cake Wines and The Duck Inn