The Woodbridge Hotel (the Woody), a Federation style place in East Street Guildford is something of a local institution; local pub; live music venue; bistro; drive in bottle shop; and TAB. We wandered over for lunch the other day – just a short walk from our place.
Outside at the front is a beer garden of sorts – tables, chairs, umbrellas providing shade – and always seems to have patrons sitting around over a cold beer and chatting. When we arrived the mist spray used for cooling the beer garden down was in operation, and Lady FWO’s hair and moisture are not good friends – instant frizz being the operative word – so we went through into the dining room and grabbed a table. The stickiness of the table was a bit disconcerting but we settled in to look over the menu and drinks list.
Beers on tap include the usual suspects – VB, Carlton Draught, Stella, Guinness, Redback, Pure Blonde and Beez Neez, plus some ciders.
The wine list is quite small and gives the impression it was put together by a wine rep eager to get their particular brands on the list without a lot of thought as to what actually makes a good list. No Riesling except the insipid crouchen blend from Brown Brothers, too many cheap sparkling without much attention to quality; no rosé. But in among the wines a couple of good drops can be found – and so we ordered a bottle of 2012 Alkoomi Cabernet Merlot.
The blend is a deep crimson, has lifted aromas of plum and blackberry, while the palate exhibits some pepper spice, dusty tannins, with undertones of dark chocolate. It drinks well at present, but would also improve in the cellar over the short term. It was a good companion to our meal.
The menu covers the usual gamut of pub food – with a few little twists – starters include bruschetta, garlic prawns, salt and pepper squid, grilled mushrooms and chicken satay. There are a group of salads – seafood, calamari, Thai beef, Cajun chicken; while among the mains are a pulled lamb roll, the Woody burger, fish and chips, steaks, lamb shank pie, mushroom and leek tart, beef and Guinness pie and a lamb masala curry.
We ordered, as a starter to share, salmon, potato and dill fish cakes, with a warm pumpkin and fetta salad, and tomato and chilli prawns as our mains.
As we waited for our meals we noticed the delivery to another table of the two pies – they were enormous! Cooked in a pie dish that looked big enough for three people, and covered in pastry, they looked great, the aromas were mouth watering – but the serving sizes….big eaters at the Woody.
The fish cakes – four around squash ball size sitting on a bed of leaves, sliced capsicum and tomato – were very good. Lightly fried, no oiliness, and inside a lot of salmon, little potato – often the spuds are the main component and the fish an afterthought. Not here – good chunks of moist, tender salmon, a lovely infusion of dill, and soft well cooked potato to bind them together. The salad was fresh and crisp, and the tartare sauce on the side nice and creamy.
Our salad was presented in a large serving dish – a lot of fresh green leaves of rocket, creamy, salty Danish fetta abounded, cubes of warm, sweet, caramelized roast pumpkin, with slices of roast capsicum intermingled; a sharp vinaigrette dressing drizzled over the salad. It was a generous serving – the leaves were fresh and crunchy, the fetta soft and velvety, and the pumpkin added its characteristic sweet earthiness.
The prawns, again a very generous serving, came in a large bowl, while on the plate was a mound of rice – firm, grains separate and no sign of overcooking – and fresh salad leaves. The prawns were cooked with their tails, retained a nice crunch when bitten, and the accompanying sauce with a lot of chilli zing, while a little watery was still piquant and flavoursome. It was a tasty and satisfying dish.
The Woody is a pub and has no pretensions otherwise. It serves generous portions of well cooked, rustic pub style food, with a few dishes outside the usual pub grub. It is a friendly, welcoming spot, has a good neighbourhood feel and if you are looking for a good, home cooked style meal, in pleasant surroundings, you couldn’t go wrong heading to the Woody. If they could just fix the wine list and wipe the tables down….