The small hamlet of Parkerville in the Perth Hills, named for the first Chief Justice of WA, is home to local institution the Parkerville Tavern.
The tavern is apparently direct descendant of the Railway Hotel founded in 1902 to look after the needs of the timber workers and has undergone many a trial and tribulation over the years – from fire, delicensing, neglect, even a murder, but in recent years has been renovated and invigorated and is back to its rightful spot as a social hub in the hills.
A restored double storey Federation style building, sitting in well maintained grounds – pretty beer garden, children’s playground, even a small zoo.
Across the road a neat little park on the banks of Jane Brook, makes for an attractive sight.
On the day we went up it was cool and drizzly so we headed inside where the open fire had been lit and provided a welcoming atmosphere; gnarled locals had taken up the prime positions by the fire but we found a corner table down a ways and looked over the menu and drinks list.
The food on offer, classic pub grub, includes lemon pepper squid, tempura prawns, Scotch fillet, bangers and mash, beef and Guinness pie, steak sandwiches and burgers, as well as a range of salads, sides and desserts. The beer battered fish and chips and the “Parky breast” caught our eye and, together with a side of garlic prawns, was our order.
James Squire beers and others are available on tap, and a good selection of wines are listed on a pretty well put together list. Among those were Jim Barry Lavender Hill Riesling, Squealing Pig Pinot Gris, Vasse Felix Cabernet Merlot, Howard Park Flint Rock Pinot Noir and Rymill Cabernet Sauvignon; not all that surprisingly we settled on a bottle of Skuttlebutt rosé from Stella Bella in Margaret River.
Bright pink, with lifted strawberry and raspberry aromas, made from a blend of shiraz, merlot and sangiovese, it delivers a fruity palate, and hints of spice; balanced acidity leads to a surprisingly dry finish.
As is the case with many country pubs -and this is despite its proximity to the City – they do not skimp on the servings. Even before ours arrived we noticed the steak sandwiches and pies being delivered to our neighbours and were taken aback by the sizes.
The fish and chips, two large fillets encased in a crisp batter without hint of greasiness, sat atop a mound of chips that could have helped an Irish village through the Famine, and came, with a salad of green leaves and red onion (as a nod to healthy eating), and a small bowl of tartar sauce. The fish was sweet, moist, flaking and the chips crunchy and crisp with a floury interior.
Herb butter stuffed chicken breast was served astride a bacon and green onion potato cake, alongside asparagus, rocket and goats cheese salad. Again it was a generous dish, the chicken tender, juicy and oozing with buttery stuffing. The cake was, if anything, a little less crisp than expected due to the juices of the chicken ebbing onto it, but was full of bacon flavour, creamy mash and flecks of sweet onion. The accompanying salad added refreshing lightness and crispness, with an abundance of asparagus scattered throughout.
The five or six prawns, cooked with their tails, served in a bowl of smooth, velvety garlic butter sauce retained a good crunch with lifted garlic aromas.
To say we were replete after these dishes would be an understatement. The food was simple, unpretentious, well cooked, generously sized, and excellent value. What more can you ask for of a pub? Friendly, efficient and prompt service add to its charms.
By the time we left the sun was dully shining through the clouds, causing some hardy souls – they breed them tough in the Hills, or perhaps they were simply desperate addicts of the noxious weed – to venture to the garden, sipping and taking in the rays. We also noted the wood fired oven which cranks up on weekends and signs advertising live music on Sundays, some added attractions at this historic, family friendly spot. If you want a day out in the hills, this should be an essential stop.