Once upon a time I spent a lot of time on Saturdays at the Leederville Hotel – prior to and after watching the mighty West Perth toy with the opposition at Leederville Oval. When Subiaco and the pseudo-Eagles came to infest the hallowed ground, the old pub lost its attraction. But we dropped by one afternoon this week after lunching nearby and I was very taken by the beer garden – very well renovated, in a rustic outdoorsy style – bricks and metal – some old gums still casting shade over lawn areas, and a good sized central bar.
Closer to Newcastle Street is an enclosed canteen area with long communal tables where customers can sit in comfort and enjoy the food and drink on offer.
We were only there for a look and drink, but cast our eye over the menu nonetheless. It contains all that you would expect of good pub style dishes – spiced chicken wings, salt and pepper calamari, croquettes and fries to start; with pizzas, steak sandwiches, salads, fish and chips, tagines and short ribs for those looking for more substantial meals.
The drinks list indicates some careful thought and planning with a dozen or so of red and white wine by the glass, as well as half a dozen sparkling and three rosé – and some very good drops among them. Mandoon Estate Surveyors White and Ad Hoc Wallflower Riesling caught my eye, but we focussed on the reds and from among the many good ones on offer chose a glass of 2102 Zonte Sangiovese Barbera blend and one of 2010 Willoughby Park Cabernet Merlot.
We sat back and sipped these in the sun and just relaxed. It was that kind of day. The wines were great – the Zonte from McLaren Vale dark red, almost purple in colour, with plums, cherries and pepper on the nose, and a lingering palate of blackberries and savoury tannins. Willoughby Park set up in the old premises of West Cape Howe just outside Denmark turns out good quality wines and the Cabernet Merlot is no exception.
It is quite a soft, easy drinking wine, with mulberries and spice aromas, tobacco and blackberries on the palate, smooth tannins and a long finish. Our only gripe was the thick walled, smallish wine glasses, which don’t really allow the wines to show their true nature – but I guess beer gardens aren’t suitable for more delicate and appropriate stemware.
With friendly staff, good atmosphere and well set up, the Garden is certainly a great improvement on what I remember of the old Leedy, and is well worth a visit – now if only those pretenders would move away from the oval.