Since 1848 a pub has operated on the site of the Criterion Hotel in Hay Street, making it the oldest continuously licensed premises in the State.
The current classic Art Deco style building dates from 1937 but for me its greatest claim to fame is that on 2 May 1885 a meeting at the Criterion resulted in the establishing of the oldest Australian Rules club in WA, and the only continuing foundation member of what has become the WAFL, the historic, magnificent and hopefully soon to be crowned once again as premiers, West Perth Football Club.
And many years ago, when I used to work not all that far away, the front bar was a regular spot to drop by for a beer on Friday afternoons; but that has all changed.
The front bar is now the brasserie – the breakfast and dining room for residents of the hotel – and has really lost its place as a bar. You can still get a drink there of course, as well as pretty routine pub food – burgers, fish and chips, calamari, steak sandwiches, and the like – but it doesn’t have a lot of atmosphere these days.
The wine list is particularly disappointing, very ordinary wines for the most part –Oxford Landing and Yalumba Y series, as well as Brown Brothers Crouchen Riesling set the scene for a underwhelming display – for all the world it is a wine reps list with little thought or care.
We found a Vasse Felix Classic White which was the best on offer – a reasonably good wine to be sure, but everything could be so much better with some effort.
The waiters were friendly, and it has some tables out on the footpath where you can sit and watch the passing parade, and a fish tank at the entrance to add a little interest, but with all that Perth has to offer, the Criterion, despite its wonderful history, falls short.