When it comes to pub overhauls, none has experienced a greater face lift in recent years than the Newmarket Hotel. What once was a drab and seedy beer and cigarette infused establishment has undergone a transformation into another remarkable beer and steak house for Brisbane.
Slightly north of the city, the Newmarket Hotel looks more like a thriving little village meeting place than your average pub and on a Friday night, it pumps with punters who are out for a reasonably priced meal accompanied by a cold beverage or two and some live, home grown entertainment.
The old white façade of the Newmarket Hotel is the only remaining piece of the original pub and behind its dark, shady history now lies a stylish, contemporary, bustling venue for young, old and in between. The venue is vast and comprises a main restaurant (indoor and outdoor dining), a huge 3 sided public bar (with the obligatory wide screen teles for the sports fans) and a sizeable night club-esque lounge and bar area (where the live band / dj is housed). Actually, I think there’s more to it than this, but I didn’t get to cover all the ground on my visit.
The restaurant area is the focus of this review and whilst I definitely wouldn’t give it 10 out of 10, I’d absolutely go back. I was impressed with the transformation from a cosmetic perspective and thought the food and service were pretty darn good as well.
My party of 7 was casually celebrating a birthday and luckily we reserved a table, because the place was packed to the gunnels. We kicked the evening off with a few beers from the good range of tap brews and on the food front we started with Turkish breads and dips of the day. The dips were a little oily and the bread a little crunchy for my liking, but definitely not a show stopper.
The special for January was the $6 prawn cocktail entrée and being the prawn addict I am, I jumped at the chance to indulge. The (ample quantity of) prawns arrived on a bed of lettuce accompanied with a creamy and tangy seafood sauce – couldn’t have done it better myself and the others at the table agreed.
Deciding on a main meal caused me great angst, as there were so many dishes that sounded delicious and interesting. Typical pub food like fish and chips, chicken parma and grazier’s pie were available, but it also offers dishes a little fancier than your average pub, boasting Asian duck, lamb rack with red wine jus, kangaroo loin, risottos and more.
I went the safe (read: couldn’t decide so went for the fallback) option of the medium-rare eye fillet with mushroom sauce and mash in the end, which satisfied my craving for a slab of red meat. It came out exactly medium-rare which gave it the first tick and the mash was light and creamy. Mushroom sauce is hard to get wrong, so tick in the box for that as well.
Two of the lads had the wagyu rump which didn’t disappoint and the two serves of the beer battered barramundi and chips received high accolades. The birthday girl tried her luck with the Asian style duck, which arrived elegantly served on a bed of jasmine rice with steamed bok choy and sweet soy sauce.
The feedback was positive with regards to the flavour however the duck was a little rare for her liking. The head of the table chose the rack of lamb (which I must say looked the part) which was presented with sweet potato mash, ratatouille and red wine sauce. It got the nod of approval with the first bite.
Not one of us had room in the dessert pocket, so we did the sensible thing and ignored the dessert menu. However, I managed to catch a glimpse of the chocolate cake at the party next door and it looked delicious. Who knows what devilish morsels could have been sampled had we left enough room?
With our full and contented bellies we attended to bill which was just under $30 per head and adjourned to the lounge bar to catch a set from one of the local covers bands. The vibe was pretty casual at this point, but the night was young and I’m pretty sure things were about to get rowdy as the crowd warmed to the band.
All in all, we had a pleasant evening and I’d happily return to Newmarket Hotel with a crew for dinner, drinks and maybe even some moves on the dance floor.
- Newmarket Hotel, Enoggera Rd, Newmarket +61 7 3853 2000