The Settlers Arms Inn, St. Albans
Work closes between Christmas and New Year which is my cue to do as little as possible. This years little as possible activity is joining friends at their weekender on the river at Wisemans Ferry (it’s all about who you know, not what you know…)
It’s a great place to watch the world go by, read a book, watch the water skiers and generally do as little as possible. That means fancy cooking is off the agenda, so once all the leftovers were eaten we had to take ourselves down the road to the pub.
Being English we crave a good pub. A good pub can be defined as somewhere old, dark, a little dingy, with memorabilia and no pokies. Such a pub exists in the small town of St. Albans, just down the road from Wisemans Ferry. The Settlers Arms, circa 1848, is not only a small, olde worlde pub, but it’s a beautiful sandstone building that makes some claims to being the longest serving inn in the Valley (although not the first, as the Industrious Settler was licensed 11 years prior, but has long since been a private residence).
A little over 80km from Sydney, the Settlers Arms makes for a great lunch location. And despite its relatively isolated location it serves up better than average pub food. In peak tourist season you can forgive them the queue out of the door as you will get your ale eventually, but don’t count on knowing what you are drinking. Today’s ale was an ale from Sydney. Despite the questions, I can’t tell you more than that, other than the bar maid assumes everyone wants the house red from the cask (I insisted on the bottle) and it takes much less effort to pour a lemonade than a lemon lime bitters (you don’t head out there for service with a smile, especially between Christmas and new year).
With the narrow wine list, the baby thought it was a better idea to make a Pimms (before you report me it was just water and cucumber) as the sunshine in the beer garden was reminiscent to an English summers day.
The food on the other hand was surprisingly good. There is a short menu of pub food ranging from pie and mash, to fish and chips, asparagus and poached egg and stuffed zucchini flowers to name but a few. The flowers were described as being stuffed with haloumi, but it tasted more like ricotta to me. Not a reason to complain though as they were rather tasty and more a kin to a trendy Sydney eatery than a small town pub. I think they have to put in a little effort for the city folk that jet in on a helicopter.
The pie was definitely home made. It was not topped precisely enough to have come from a packet. Served with mash and peas it was certainly typical pub fare.
Again the fish and chips were as you would expect, with nothing wildly at fault. Served with good fat chips and an iceberg salad, they certainly know their audience. I can confirm this with the pea sprout salad that was plucked from the kitchen garden to serve with the zucchini flowers. It’s the little things that make a difference.
All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend my “doing as little possible” day, and I think I might venture out here from the ‘burbs on a winters Saturday as I believe they have real log fires.