Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Set your own table at this family friendly pub

Inlet Hotel
45 Great Ocean Rd
Aireys Inlet
Ph: 5289 6270

In 2004, Melinda Houston wrote in The Age that the Inlet Hotel provided value that "is hard to go past". Perhaps there has been a price rise because, when my family and I visited on the third night of our holiday in Aireys Inlet, we agreed this local pub was not the kind of place you'd describe as value for money.

Yearling rump steak with chips and salad - choice of mushroom, pepper, garlic or gravy sauces - shown here with garlic sauce ($25.90)

As above, with pepper sauce.

I love when there is a seafood platter on offer and used to jump at the chance to order one, but it was my dad who taught me that buying a "fisherman's basket" at your local pub is probably not a good idea if you want to avoid grease and chewy calamari. We discussed The Inlet Seafood Platter, however, and agreed that if you're going to get a platter from a pub, one right on the coastline such as this would probably be a safe bet.

The Inlet Seafood Platter - a selection of prawns, oysters, smoked salmon, fried fish and calamari ($36.90)

The salmon was fresh and delicious, sitting on salad of lettuce, tomato, carrot and red onion, and the combination of the onion and salmon was great. The oysters were very nice, but definitely not the freshest I've had. Those two items were the highlights of the platter, and the rest of the seafood was quite average.

The first piece of calamari that I took a bite out of was tender and easy to chew, but I must have just been lucky because the majority of the pieces after that were so stringy that I couldn't bite them in half. The menu proudly states that the calamari is "house crumbed" - we discussed that perhaps this simply means the seafood arrives processed and frozen, and dunked in some bread crumbs before serving.

The prawns were a good size, but instead of tasting fresh and having a firm texture, they were bland and almost mushy. The fish itself was fine but the batter wasn't cooked all the way through, leaving a doughy covering around the fish.

Chicken Parmigiana, breast of chicken with ham, napoli sauce and mozzarella cheese with chips and salad ($23.90).

The parma was good: a thick piece of juicy chicken breast, and a fresh salad that was very welcome to cut through the grease of the average tasting chips.

Premium rib eye steak, with horseradish mash, roast vegetables and red wine jus ($34.90)

This was a very nice dish; the creamy mash and rich sauce were great accompaniments for the tender steak.

Roasted chicken Maryland with a chickpea, preserved lemon and apricot tagine ($21.50).

There is definitely a place for the Inlet Hotel. It's very much a family friendly establishment; most tables had children, and two little boys ran noisily around the restaurant uninterrupted. The pub is attempting to keep up with its city counterparts, offering plenty of gluten free options, but expect to set your own table and get your own condiments. With an average-tasting seafood platter sitting close to $40, and the cheapest main - risotto of roasted tomatoes, basil, pine nuts and goats cheese - at $19.90, the Inlet Hotel has the kind of prices you'd expect in major cities, without the freshness and quality.


  1. Value that is "hard to go past"? That woman must have more money than sense.

    You're right; those are the kinds of prices I would be expecting to pay in a city restaurant for a different class of food - non-prepackaged chips, perhaps a more interesting salad on the side, and calamari rings made from scratch with fresh squid. But oh well - food on the coast usually costs a lot more, and it is usually hit and miss as to whether the cost equals its worth.

  2. And as my aunty pointed out, there's not a lot of options for dinner unless you want to continue on to Lorne, so they know they can get away with charging a bit more. It's just a shame that even though this pub is right on the coast, you're not getting the freshest, best quality seafood.