ILLICT watering holes or ‘sly-grogs’ were built on Australian shores as soon as the First Fleet arrived in 1788.
Almost a decade later the first legal pub was opened in Parramatta in Sydney, serving thirsty patrons rum and brandy and the occasional batch of beer.
Once a 5 o’clock destination for the working class to enjoy overcooked steak and powdered gravy, today’s Australian pub serves a plethora of contemporary eats, including slow-cooked meats, gourmet pizza, local seafood, American BBQ and the eternal chicken parmi.
The menu at Bill’s Bar and Bites at the Leederville Hotel isn’t super adventurous, but it’s perfect for those looking for some quick and simple fare.
If calamari was a man, I’d be worried about my wife’s infatuation with it.
Fortunately, Kylie’s obsession makes her a pretty good judge of the deep-fried classic.
She reckons Bill’s salt and pepper squid ($16) is fresh and tender with no stringy bits, but suggested the kitchen crank up the deep fryer as the crumb coating was a bit soggy and textureless. A shame, because the squid itself was bang on.
The fish tacos ($18 for 3) are a great filler. They’re far from jaw dropping, but a tasty treat nonetheless.
Soft tortillas are packed with cabbage slaw, jalapeno and two small but satisfying crunchy pieces of moist fish.
Like the tacos we were stuffed, but it didn’t stop us from ordering the tempting lamb pizza ($23).
The base is deliciously chewy and topped with juicy, slow-cooked lamb braised with moroccan spices. The tender lamb is drizzled with a tangy spiced yoghurt and a heap of crunchy dukkha.
The decadent lamb pizza complemented the warm and intimate setting in this historic hotel, which is softly lit with table candles.
According to many current and former employees, Bill’s Bar and Bites is haunted by the ghost of Ol’ Kanga–a bookie who once ran the Leederville Hotel’s gambling operations.
Kanga lived in the hotel’s tower room, where his presence can still be felt to this day.
Regardless of the hotel’s ghostly past, Bill’s Bar and Bites is very much alive and kicking.
by MATTHEW EELES
Bill’s Bar and Bites
742 Newcastle Street,