Pub Grub

No, no, no. This is not an item about an old work-mate who liked to have a few beers at the pub before scuttling around the floor biting sheilas’ ankles and eating ashtrays! Those days are no more.

Begone booze barn with your raucous patrons, capacious carparks and cacophonous bands. Welcome to the local pub – a place of conviviality. Somewhere to have a meal, a chat and a refreshing ale before sauntering home.

The Roundabout Pub in Tawa is one of those small local pubs that have been popping up in recent years. It’s been a long time in the making, but is slowly evolving as a meeting-place for Tawa locals.

I covered The Roundabout’s first menu in an earlier posting, after they had moved from bar snacks to their first lunch and dinner menu – with attendant spelling mistooks. The latest production is more professionally presented and I had to look hard to find any spelling mistakes. In fact the new printed menu is nicely quirky and understated.

The management made a conscious decision to move to “lighter” fare for summer, and this resulted in the lamented departure of their toothsome burgers in favour of wraps, rolls and the like. Some of the items have not achieved acclaim and have been tweaked as summer progressed. However, most have been given the knowing nod from a select band of gourmets who frequent the place, occasionally with me in tow.

Shark ‘n taties better known as fush ‘n chups is a popular kiwi feed. The Roundabout offer their version, called “Fish Meal”. Now I’m a Gisborne lad, and “fish meal” immediately reminded me of the days when Wattie’s were processing fish meal and making that wonderful brew known as Felix Cat Food which was popped into those distinctive red and yellow cans – the sight of which caused many a moggy to bolt in search of brighter fare. The sight of the words “fish meal” immediately transported me back to those days when even Gisborne’s scrawny alley cats wrinkled their noses at the pong erupting from the fishmeal plant.

Despite its inelegant name, “Fish Meal” has evolved from battered hoki fillets to crumbed hoki fillets served with chips and salad. The hoki evolution has worked, with the smaller crumbed fillets getting the thumbs-up. The overall size of the meal has reduced, but this did not faze any of those who tried it, as it was somewhat gargantuan in its previous incarnation.

The hoki is served with a pair of onion rings, a wedge of lemon, chips (a bit pale, I thought), a dish of tomato and tartare sauce, and a generous serving of mixed leaf salad and sprouts. Not a slice of the dreaded iceberg lettuce to be seen, and they have finally learnt to add a bit of a french-style dressing which can be turned through the tasty leaves, if desired.

This week’s blackboard menu offered the Moroccan beef wrap containing diced beef in a buttery savoury sauce. It’s served with chips and salad, and one of our party described it as the best meal he’d had at The Roundabout. In keeping with other dishes, the serving is generous and the everyday hobbit will find few corners left to be filled afterward.

One of the team bravely ordered a well-done rib eye steak the other night and, when it arrived, it was indeed “Well Done.” It was thoroughly cooked but still moist and tender. Nowadays it’s a bit trendy to eschew the well-done steak in favour of something less well-cooked, so it’s a delight to find an eaterie that can cater to what the customer actually wants rather than what the chef considers within his/her dignity.

The other dish to have received the nod of approval is the beef roll. This was tested by an international panel of Tawa residents a few weeks back over a leisurely lunch. It turned out to be an elongated version of the beef burger that The Roundabout offered late last year, and a very filling lunchtime meal, indeed.

A long bread roll, amply coated in melted cheese provides a home to quickly seared diced, marinated steak – served medium. The meat marinade is not as powerful as that used for the beef burgers last year. But be warned if you like your steak well-done – the steak is on the light side of medium and retains its juices.

The standard salad accompanies the roll, although calling The Roundabout’s salad “standard” sounds like a put-down when its not – they just maintain a high standard when making their leafy concoctions.

All-in-all The Roundabout is doing very well at serving attractive meals at attractive prices. It will be interesting to see if they bring back the honourable burger for their wintertime menu or surprise us with other innovations.

The blackboard menu sported beef in Guinness a few weeks ago. Despite the 13 degree temperature on the night when a local panel of “judges” assembled to assess the food, no-one tried it at our table. Perhaps we take a while to don our winter coats and appetites after such a good summer.

But such delights might encourage the winter weekend lunch trade to pop in for a glass or two over a hot lunch this winter. And don’t think that they don’t offer the venerable bacon & eggs as a brunch dish. They do, but its quirkily buried on the menu under the title “Toast.”

Keep up the good work and standards, folks.

One Response to “Pub Grub”

  1. Flying deldas says:

    Yum! Methinks it might be time for another trip south to the delights of Lynsborough. On second thoughts, that may be a while away so here’s hoping the chef is happy in his job.

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