In a rare meeting of timetables, my husband had this weekend off and so I suggested that we might go mad with ourselves and go up the train line for lunch at a pub.
The pub has been built in an old school building in an older suburb that has been left mercifully untouched by the infillers, who are currently subdividing blocks and covering the real estate of Perth with Lego buildings. The reason it has remained unscathed is possibly because it is on the flight path to the international airport and so the lovely weatherboard and and brick houses have been left alone as jumbos and Dreamliners glide over on their final descent. There are trees lining the streets and even a string of shops, albeit ones selling antiques.
I thought we were just hopping up the train line for a couple of pints, but my spidey senses should have kicked in when my husband suggested we leave a light on for the dogs, even though it was only half one in the afternoon when we left. One advantage of having a spouse who works on the railways, is that he is a walking timetable and we got to the station with less than a minute to wait until the train pulled in.
Recently, a heritage building that housed a pub has been reopened in the neighbouring suburb. It had remained closed with protest banners covering it for years before some negotiation was able to bring about its restoration into what I am sure is a lovely, comfortable pub and eatery. Our theory was that everyone would be there – the new hot spot in the area -leaving the other pub relatively peaceful for lunch.
The last time I went, I had to readjust my city expectations to prevent the onset of a heart attack. To say the service is unhurried is something of an understatement. To say the service moves at the speed of techtonic plate movement would be unfair to techtonic plates. Go in with the right mindset, though and a gloriously relaxed afternoon beckons.
We got in, managed to grab a table and sipped on a pint while we looked at the menu. I then queued to place an order. As the pub was busy, we decided to order an entree only and share it, then order mains if we still felt hungry when the lunch rush had calmed down.
I reached the counter and ordered the warm whole brie with turkish bread. The barman took my order and warned me there would be a 45 minute wait for food. That ws OK, I was prepared for that and only hesitated slightly in wondering whether I should just put the mains order in at the same time. I was worried that a whole brie would be a lot of food – even between two. – and we might not want mains.
As it happened, we did not wait 45 mins at all – as it happens, it was more like 25, but actually I would have gladly waited a little longer for slightly warmer, runnier cheese. When I bake a Brie, the result is a molten liquid centre, but this was cool and still almost solid. It was also quite a small cheese, with very thin slithers of cold toast, so after sharing it, we were both still hungry.
I went to order the main, it was 3pm by now and the crowds had thinned. The guy behind the counter warned me there would be a wait. A one hour wait.
‘Never mind,’ I told myself, ‘Stay calm.’ One hour is fine and will leave us room to digest the entree. When we were on holiday in Greece, we used to spend hours over lunch, happy to leave an hour between courses.
Once again, though, the food was quicker coming that we expected. My husband’s burger and chips was chunky and confident. They had done less well with the stuffed mushrooms I had ordered. They had failed to blend the vegetable filling with the promised Panko breadcrumbs, but they had included a complimentary bit of metal kitchen scourer in the melted cheese.
The thing is, this place is a pub, and what we should have done is to stick with pub grub: chips, pie, soup, bread and that sort of stuff. The burger was fine, the chips were lovely, but I was left wishing I had gone with salad and chips, my default pub order, which is always delicious because it is quite difficult to get wrong.
I did not complain, I have worked in enough kitchens to appreciate the carnage that goes on when it is busy, and I did not eat the scourer. We finished off with another pint as the light dimmed, and watched the bellies of the planes pass over our heads. The friendly guy collecting glasses put the overhead gas heater on for us.
We got the train home and were greeted by two ecstatic dogs, who seemed to have totally forgiven us for leaving them alone for four hours on a weekend (possibly because I had explained I would be with them all day tomorrow). It has been a while since we have been out for a meal together and the sunny cool weather and ample opportunity for people watching in the big pub garden had been fun.
I can think of worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon.