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HOT: Waterloo Hotel – Cnr Ann St & Commercial Rd, Newstead.

Truth be told, I seriously have splinters in my back-side over this one.  I had to ask MM to pretend to hold a gun to my head and even then I ummed and aaahed for quite some time before finally giving it the benefit of the doubt.  It’s a bit of a shame too….I had high expectations for the Waterloo Hotel to smash the HOT factor in a big way.

A survivor of Sir Joe’s courtship with the Deen Bros. demolition ball, the Waterloo Hotel has stood the test of time and its façade of old still remains standing, witnessing no doubt countless episodes of bloodied brawls over the years gone by.  Its latest iteration maintains this façade, showing no glimpse from the outside that anything has changed, with the exception perhaps of a lick of paint.

I’ve never actually set foot in the place (refer previous blood bath comment) and the anticipation of dining in the newly spruced venue was almost too much for me.  On this Wednesday evening, I have to say the Waterloo Hotel was much quieter than I was expecting and as we entered the bar area I wondered if perhaps we’d imposed on their night off….it was a bit of a ghost town.  Never the less we proceeded to the dining room and were half-heartedly greeted by a well presented waiter who didn’t seem too fussed to see us.

I scanned the surroundings, taking in the scenery and pondering my feelings on the décor…eccentric and eclectic definitely, but a mish-mash of modern and retro, which in all honesty didn’t float the boat of the amateur interior designer within me.  The outer edges of the Waterloo Hotel dining area consisted of private booths which looked quite cosy, however the 1950’s style wooden-framed dining chairs and tables in the centre of the room weren’t particularly comfortable and just didn’t look right.  The surrounding bar area was a meld of marble, mirrors, glitz and grandeur which was lonely without patronage and ached for a glamorous crowd.  The retro and somewhat stale feel of the dining room did the bar area no justice at all.

Onto the menu and the first thing that impressed me was the reasonable price tag.  The bulk of the items were well and truly affordable and the majority of options available sounded tempting.

Our waiter skulked past every now and then, still unsure if he really wanted to be there; with gentle persuasion and encouraging nods from us all, he timidly took our order.  Big Dog in his usual fashion opted for 5 spice slow cooked pork belly with gai lan, sweet potato fondant and soy reduction ($23).  It looked the goods, but unfortunately the pork was a little stringy and overcooked.  The accompanying crackling was too thick and way over salted.

Rizza, in his usual carnivorous (and typically unimaginative) state opted for the grain fed rump with red wine and thyme reduction ($29).  His slab of tender moo cow looked very appealing and held a lot more moisture than the poor Dog’s piggy.  Rizza was impressed and was quick to suggest that he would return to the Waterloo Hotel for the steak in a heart beat.

My choice of the whole baby barramundi with Japanese soy, chilli, ginger and shallots ($32) won serious presentation points.  I was awed, to say the least, when my fishy friend of the sea presented itself (as per the menu) whole – from its beady little eyes and gaping jowl, right down to its crispy mortis tail.  He didn’t look to happy to see me.

The construction of this dish was intricate and a great show of clever salad assembly, although the pictures don’t quite do it justice, sorry.  The fish flesh was cooked very well and tasted beautiful.  The Asian flavours of the accompanying salad were fresh and spicy and complimented the fish perfectly.  To my disappointment however, it was just too damn salty.  I couldn’t finish it due to the salt factor – before long my lips were crinkled and felt like they’d knocked back a litre of ocean water.

A mixed bag is probably the best way to describe our evening at the Waterloo Hotel .  The food could be better, but has serious potential and a bit of life in the wait staff wouldn’t go astray.  Despite its funny mix of ultra modern, super-chic style with Grandpa’s favourite chairs and tapestry covered lounges, I can’t help but feel that deep inside the Waterloo Hotel there’s a monster with seriously fun attitude just dying to be let out – I think it’s just a matter of time or timing.

  • Waterloo Hotel – Cnr Ann St & Commercial Rd, Newstead, +61 7 3719 4100

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Discussion

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  1. I recently took a few friends for an impromtu light lunch at the Waterloo. This was the first time I had eaten at the Waterloo, I had been in a few times for a beer and check out the new surrounds.

    I really liked that fact that they kept the Art Deco theme in the older section of the pub, however one room near the stairs appeared to be an after thought with a very large meeting room style table and chairs everywhere. The furniture in this room had no connection with any other part of the Hotel.

    Onto the food. We dropped in for a sample of their Tappas menu. I am not on that usually looks forward to tappas, however we thought if we were going to test the chef, the tappas is the way to go (anyone can cook a steak).

    One word – FANTASTIC! The range of tappas was exiciting, however the eating was a great experience. Real serviettes, silver cutlery, a charming and smiley young waitress made our experience a 10 out of 10. Do’t get me wrong, I do not give high scores lightly, infact it has been some years that the food and service in a restaurant has got me excited, but the Waterloo did!

    Only issue I have is there lunch menu (not the tappas), is very limited with a lot of steak trying to fill the blank spots on the menu.

    If the chef can create fantastic tappas, why can’t he be a tad more adventurous with the lunch menu.

    Posted by Jez Smith
    Twitter: vcequity
    | October 30, 2010, 12:19 pm
  2. The dishes look extremely inviting from behind the screen. A pity that according to you, the taste did not do the presentation justice. I might have to stop by the hotel if I ever get to Brisbane, and the steak would most probably be the dish I will try. The prices seem justified too.

    Posted by Daniel | September 12, 2011, 4:32 pm

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