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North Coast Pub Guide

The Ocean Shores Tavern serves quality food – which is now the norm for many of the regions pubs.

The Ocean Shores Tavern serves quality food – which is now the norm for many of the north coast’s pubs.

Tap into value and choice

Guide and photos by Matthew Michaelis

Pubs these days are a long way from the stereotype that’s been at the heart of the Aussie culture since women had to drink away from their blokes and pie and mash were the table ­settings.

The convoy of bar foods served to accompany grog is being replaced with choices of the sort that would have inhabited ‘members only’ establishments a few decades ago.

Back in those days, the non-gratis degustation started with little serviette-lined baskets filled with cheese cubes, cabanossi, sides of red and green pickled onions and Jatz crackers.

The next course upped the ante with stainless ovals brimming with small sausage rolls, party pies and the grand finale (if you were lucky) baskets piled with chips and garnished with minced fish bites. The bar menu was about feeding the patron while they continued knocking a few drinks down. It was a way of keeping the loyal customers coming back to wet their whistles. The food was a comfy extension of home. Mash, gravy, peas, a roast, steak or schnitzel.

These days, we’ve decided to fess-up to our indiscretions and dubious culinary ways. The responsible publican is now firmly in charge, guided by the Responsible Service of Alcohol laws while keeping the tastebuds at peace and the stomachs lined so we don’t wind up in a state on the doorstep.

The changing face of the patron also has hotel owners looking at the bigger picture: healthier takes on classic ingredients, modern menus, proud chefs and clean, pleasant, renovated spaces to eat the food in. All this and a reasonably priced drink and beer.

What’s on offer at your local pub is worth a look. Here’s cheers to the effort many hotels are putting in to please, and keep, customers coming through their doors. I’ve listed some notables here with a snapshot that includes a keyhole to the sort of choices available. If you’d like some more you’ll have to rock up and try your nearest local pub eatery.

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