Tuesday, March 17, 2009

CRAP review- Marlborough Hotel

Marlborough Hotel, Marlborough, QLD.
Greetings, pub devotees. Unfortunately, my reviews are not as often as you or I would like, but here is my latest little piece in my Crawling Round Australia Pub Crawl.

The Marlborough Hotel is located north of Rockhampton, south of Mackay. Not quite halfway, but close enough. We stopped here because for $4 a person, they let you camp in their back yard. This includes use of their showers & toilets, which is not too bad a deal. It’s off the Bruce Highway, just past the big colony of fruit bats for northbound traffic. Talk about a freaky sight! Right out of a Dracula movie!

Lovely little one pub town, with a Police Station, SES Rescue Unit, pool and a little shop. Can’t say I made it past the pub, although I did walk through the Lions Park next morning. Doing my bit. The only draw back is the train line runs right alongside the main street. Freight and coal trains run past pretty regularly.

What can I say. I live for little country town pubs. The feel, the atmosphere, the sensation as you walk into somewhere you’ve never been, but reminds you of so many places you have. So I may be a little biased when it comes to comparing them, but then again these are my reviews, and my idea of what a pub should be like. You’ll get used to it.

The beer was good and cold. VB, XXXX, and Hahn Lite on tap. None of your yuppy trendy Drys, Blondes, Mids, etc. One tap of each. Schooners and Pots. Keepin it simple. My only criticism here is that there was a slight odour to the beer, hit the nose just before you drank it. Dose of Bracton wouldn’t hurt, but the beer flavor wasn’t affected. Good cold glasses, and a short pull from the cellar to the taps. About 3 feet, I reckon!

Staff were really friendly. After setting up the van, and sitting for my first beer, the barman (who turned out to be Steve, the publican, ex fitter and turner for Bundaberg Sugar for 20 years, 3 sons, just doing a stint as a publican before retiring, been at Marlborough for 3 years, no the deers head was there when he started) was quick with a how do you do, where you from, where you going little conversation. Soon determined the footy was going to be on later, I could take my beer out to the van, and the kitchen opened 6 to 8.

This is a big thing for me in a pub. Friendly openness. A welcome feel. You really only get it when you walk into a real country pub. Now I’ll grant you that there may only be 1 or 2 other people in there, and the staff are bored shitless and need to talk to someone, anyone! But I’ll take that anyday over a “$3.90 thanks” and a turned shoulder as they would rather polish some glasses.

Lucky I’ve made up a bit of a scale and score sheet, but, to keep things in check. The Marlborough fell short in a couple of other areas, but as little pubs go, I reckon it was a beauty. Plenty of character and plenty of characters. Scored a 6.7, which is not a bad total. Food let the place down a little.

Food was regular pub fare. Hot, brown, frozen veg, filled the plate. Averaging around $15 a plate, is was no bargain either. But it filled the hole that a full days travelling makes, and saves prepping and washing up. Money well spent.

Kids weren’t particularly catered for, except no one minded them running around. And the back beer garden / huge lawn was heaps of room for them to go crazy. There was a huge white dog, as friendly as could be, very placid. Just dawdled around behind the kids, tongue lolling out. Might have eaten them, but was pretty well fed, and didn’t look like it could be bothered.

Best feature was definitely the bar, and the staff. Finally, a bar you can sit at! About 8 metres of polished timber where you can sit, watch the tele, and comment on life. Add to that bar staff who love a chat and a joke, and involve everyone in the conversation. Can dish out a bit of stick, but take it as well.

To top it all off, great memories of home, when my Bundy was served on ice in a glass, with a can of coke on the side. Add as much or as little as you like, and if you don’t need coke next time, the shot is cheaper!

So all in all, a great pub. I probably think higher of it than it may deserve, since it has been so long since I’ve been in a decent country pub, but its definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. I mean cold beer, good company. It doesn’t really need anything more than that.

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