Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Royal Hotel, Darlington

370 Abercrombie St, Darlington
Reviewers present: Burger Bot & Joe Blogs
Time of review: Mid-week dinner




"Royal by name but not royal by price!"



Looking for a cheapish pub feed in the Redfern, Eveleigh, Waterloo, Newtown, Broadway, Ultimo, Darlington area? One where you don't feel crowded in by swarms of cool kids? Feel like a $9 steak and $9 jug of beer? How about here at The Royal on Abercrombie in Darlington, tucked away between the University of Sydney and the train line between Redfern and Macdonaldtown stations! Bingo!

After some debate about which train station was closer, Redfern or Mac'town, Burger Bot and I went with the more "charismatic" Redfern station route and clocked up a short 5 minute walk to the Royal Hotel. Along the way, we also spotted the Glengarry Castle, but we'll get to that one in the next post. Expect an equally short walk from Macdonaldtown Station and for the Uni students of the Uni near by, even shorter. I'm sure many of the students are already aware of the close proximity and student prices ;)



Royal Hotel bar

On our way in, we noted some footpath seating out the side. Not bad if you can get it. Entering through a side door we passed through the horribly mandatory TAB section. From what I can gather from Mayor of Newtown blog, "1992 Student Pub Guide", this room might have been home to two pool tables in the past. Unfortunate change. We grabbed some tidy-priced jugs of Boags Draught ($9! Score!) and took a seat in the TAB room. Being quickly turned off by the horse racing and Obama victory speech, we took cover in the front room, passing a hidden pokie room up the front.


Front room (top), beer garden dining (bottom)
The front room has a bunch of high tables and some couches with plenty of natural light being able to come through the multiple doors and windows along the front corner of the hotel, which open up to the Abercrombie and Codrington round-about. After putting bums on seats in here, we were again forced out by the blaring TV - more Obama, repeating parts of the speech coverage over and over.


Upstairs dining room

Our next attempt at escaping the TVs was to retreat up the stairs by the kitchen to a newer-looking dining area. While an impressive looking space, the fact that it was a complete ghost town was a bit of a downer. Don't get us wrong, we like the space(s), but when there's no one in them, they're a bit lifeless. And surprise! Another television! On, by the way, with no one watching it. There were a number of televsions around the place, all on. On the plus side to upstairs, tucked away in a separate room we discovered a pool table retreat. Already taken, of course. Good little pool room though. Next time!


The Royal kitchen and menu board

Finally settling in back downstairs in the beer garden dining area, we ordered up some meals and another jug of beer at the great price of $9 (Boags Draught and Tooheys New). Speaking of beer, as well as the Boags and New, The Royal also had on tap a couple of Squires, Pale Ale, Carlton, Blonde and a handful of others, all at reasonable prices.


Chicken schnitzel w/pepper sauce and the Royal Beef Burger


On the menu you'll find a friendly and familiar spread of chips, wedges, schnitzels, burgers, steak, pasta, fish, salt & pepper squid, bangers & mash, and so on, along with some desserts and a kids menu. A decent selection actually. Although we noted some interesting and tasty dishes on the menu, we were both really up for a couple of standards to try - the burger and chicken schnitzel. Note: Bistro open 12pm-9:30pm Mon-Fri, 12-9 Sat, and 12-8:30pm Sunday.

The Royal Burger
The Royal Burger made the Burger Boy happy, as you can see above. Order this one for $14 and you'll be tucking into an angus beef pattie, bacon, cheese, egg, tomato, beetroot, aioli and bbq sauce, served up with chippies (you'll have to craft your own smiley face). Burger Bot reports, "Good price and taste. Huge. Will definitely go back for it!" As always, by the time I had eaten three chips from my own plate and looked back up, The Bot was inserting his last bite into his robot food tube. The machine doesn't muck about when it comes to burgers and this is an indication of his enjoyment this time around.

Chicken Schnitzel

As for my schnitzel, it was good too and only $13, but I must admit to having some hesitation in finishing it after I was almost killed of all schnitzel eating ability after our White Cockatoo experience. I did get there in the end though and enjoyed the meal.

Following the food stuffs and the last of the jugs, there wasn't much left to do, so we took some final notes and were shortly on our way. Overall, we liked the Royal. There was a bit of a wasted space upstairs and the televisions littering every room of the venue (felt like we couldn't get away) did kind of give us the shits. We like pubs to be a social hub, part of the community, a "public house". I personally can't see the attraction in going to a pub with mates and then all sitting around the television with blank stares and minimal face-to-face human interaction. These were the negatives on the pub. Everything else was good. It could have just been one of those nights that was against us - with the US election coverage taking priority on the TV and a quiet mid-week turnout for the dining areas. So giving the Royal the benefit of the doubt and putting those things aside, it's a good pub and gets the nod from Sydney Pub List.

You can defintely see (and feel in the pocket) the catering to the students going on here, and that's a win for all really. $9 meal and $9 jugs of beer is awesome, lets face it. The rest of the food menu was reasonably priced and read well on the board while the beers were cold and well priced, and the service friendly. The pub does various specials and activities throughout the week - GST-free drink prices (Monday), trivia (Tuesday), poker and drink specials (Wednesday), "managers special" (Thursday), meat raffle (Friday), $12 meal and beer deals (Saturday), and $3 schooners and $1 pool all day (Sunday). It's a pub far enough off the main drags to keep the spoiling mob away, yet within easy distance from a handful of trains, buses, car spaces (and good old fashioned walking power) to be conveniently close to everything.

We'll be back. If it's been a while between drinks for you at the Royal Hotel Darlington, we suggest you give it another look. This one goes happily onto the Sydney Pub List blog. Check it out if you haven't done so already. Tip, snag the pool table and take enough friends with you so you aren't drawn into the televisions :P

3 cheap schooners

The Royal Web: http://royal.com.au/



Royal Bistro on Urbanspoon

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