Tuesday, February 10, 2009

O'Donoghue's CRAP review

O’Donoghue’s Irish Tavern, Emu Plains, NSW

Well, I guess this is the start of it all. Even though this is just a little shake down trip, I may as well set down a standard for my Crawling Round Australia Pub (C.R.A.P.) Review! Get a few guidelines in place to keep comparing apples with apples (or schooners with schooners, as the case may be!).

First port of call has been O’Donoghues Irish Tavern in Emu Plains near Penrith, New South Wales, and boy, has the bar been set high! While most people here probably consider themselves out in the country, this is still the city as far as I’m concerned, with the trains, traffic and huge shopping centres. 3 sets of lights within 200 metres? It’s a city.

So O’Donoghue’s is like an oasis. As country a city pub as any I’ve seen, and more Irish than quite a few, too. Relaxed atmosphere, family friendly, good food, cold beer and decent prices. The beer garden is excellent, with fans and water sprays for the heat, and heaters when cold. Play area for the kids, with inside play toys for the adults. Weekends see regular live bands performing, so if you’re after a quiet meal I’d avoid these nights, or eat a bit early. There’s also the regular pub gigs like trivia and karaoke. I’d say this is the social centre of Emu Plains!

It was 42’ the first day there, so the beer felt frosty cold. It could have been served at 10’ and still tasted bloody cold! But repeat trips to the bar over the next couple of days confirmed a nice drinking temperature. Cold glasses, icy beer. Good range of tap beers, with enough old being pulled to keep it fresh in the lines for traditionalists.

Price was average for NSW, $3.90 a schooner. Good news is there are plenty of happy hours, with 12pm to 5.30 on a Saturday costing $2.60, and 3 to 5 weekdays costing $2.50! That’s genuine 1990 prices! Not many places you can sit back now and enjoy a few beers for ten bucks!
Staff were friendly, but no more than the job entailed. No more conversation than was required to get the order, but done with a smile. Here was the real difference between a country hotel and a city pub. There wasn’t even a comment about the mid 40’s heat outside, a conversation starter if ever there was one!

Atmosphere of the place was nice, with plenty of old posters and tools on the wall, big timber tables, old polished bar and pokies hidden away out the back somewhere. The focus of the place seemed to be the undercover outdoor beer garden, which was quite pleasant for lunch and a slow afternoon where the kids could play in the old locomotive that has been converted to a play area. There was a stipulation that kids had to be out of this area by 9pm, however, and I’d want to be out of there a lot earlier on a Friday and Saturday anyway.

The place is nice and clean, at the bar, bistro and toilets. Not one issue with dirty glasses, plates, or cutlery. Staff got around quite regularly clearing and wiping down tables.

Typing of bistro, food was nice. Simple fair, but good servings. Nice steaks, good chips. The gravy was brown. SWMBO’s vegetarian needs weren’t really taken care of, but she’s easier to get along with after a feed of meat, so no real complaints! And average prices, but the specials were great value. $6 lunches, choice of steak, schnitzel or fish, with chips and salad. 400gram T-bone steak with chips and salad for $9.50 on a Thursday! $8 for a half chicken and chips. Pretty good value, all in all.

So, in summary, a pretty good pub. It scored a 7.6 on my CRAP Rating. That’s going to be pretty hard to beat, so any pub that rates a 7 is going to be worth a visit, and anything getting an 8 or more is definitely a pub of note. You’ll find me chained to the bar anywhere that scores a 9.

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