After eight years the Guildford Hotel re-opened last week; and hasn’t it been popular? Packed houses from the opening and unless you get along early enough very hard to grab yourself a seat – but all so worth it.
We got along on the afternoon it opened to the public, back the next day for lunch, and once again during the week – with the expectation of spending at least part of WA Day there tomorrow.
It is a fabulous renovation – blending old with new – previously covered fireplaces and parts of the fire damaged floor boards restored as centrepieces, terrazzo tiling, a fabulous beer garden with three large bbq smokers turning out meaty delights, retractable roof to allow the air in when the weather is clement, a great bar area upstairs with balcony seating, chesterfields around an open wood fire – and of course topping it all off the silvery- grey shimmering belvedere signalling the old place is back, better than ever.
And it is hard to speak too highly of the staff – everyone we have come across is friendly, welcoming, professional, smiling – all adds to a great experience.
The food on offer is pub style but of a very good quality – mainly designed to share, but with a few larger dishes and burgers, and of course the smoked and barbequed meat – brisket, sticky pork and lamb ribs available from the smokers.
A Moreton Bay bug roll came in a sweetish bun – the kind you will get in Singapore or Penang – crumbly and moreish filled with juicy, succulent bug meat and slathered with spicy mayo – very pleasant indeed.
Prawn ceviche tacos on a soft tortilla with salsa, guacamole and coriander – the prawn meat moist, tender, well- seasoned; the salsa giving a zesty lift and the creamy guacamole calming things down.
Inside a steamed bao bun fried green tomato, salty, vinegary, spicy kimchi and smoky bbq sauce all combined for an excellent snack.
Kung pow prawns – split tigers, roasted, smeared with chopped chilli and miso marinade were sweet, crunchy, spicy – will be back for more of these!
A dish of black bean hummus – nutty and buttery was served with charred bread and a small jar of chopped pico de gallo salsa – lots of fresh and refreshing flavours here.
Something out of the box were the fried cheeseburger spring rolls – burger meat in a spring roll – juicy and different.
Crisp croquettes were filled with corn and jalapenos turned through melted manchego; a serve of salted popcorn alongside and another well put together dish.
Every dish we had hit all the required markers – easy to eat, full of flavour and contrasting texture – great variety of offerings, well priced and very quick to be served especially in light of the number of customers crowding in.
My only quibble – and it is a small one- is the lack of local wines on offer – and by that I mean Swan Valley and Perth Hills – they do have some of the fabulous wines of John Kosovich and one white from Mandoon – but being the entry to the Valley I hope that more are added in coming months.
Having said that the list has a reasonable range – a couple of dozen red and rosé and similar number of whites and sparkling. Our Forest Hill Estate Riesling, Chant du Midi rosé and Partisan by Jove Tempranillo were all fine wines.
The Riesling has aromas of citrus blossom and apple; while the crisp, elegant palate is full of crunchy green apple and lime flavours, supported by fine acidity – another excellent Riesling from the Great Southern.
The Tempranillo is an impressive offering from McLaren Vale -deep purple with a lilting bouquet of blackberries, plums and a lingering note of cloves; the silky smooth palate exhibits flavours of plums and liquorice with a spicy backdrop.
The French rosé is pale with strawberry notes, a crisp, dry slightly savoury palate – great current drinking.
It has been a long wait for Guildford residents and for a time we thought the day would never come – but it has and the wait has been worth it – the Guildford will take its place near or at the top of the attractions and destinations in our historic town. Get along there and check it out.