I HALF expected to see David Attenborough sinking a pint while watching pandas mate, when I walked through the main bar at The Beaufort.
That’s because the jungle theme has been taken to the nth degree with lush foliage and verdure at every corner, trees sprouting towards the atrium’s glass ceiling, and green tiles and lights enhancing the Tarzan vibe.
As I walked up the stairs to the bar, a couple were getting cosy in an overgrown leafy booth off to the side, like two primates picking grubs from each other’s hair.
The owners have certainly gone all in with the jungle theme and the overall effect is like Waldecks on acid.
Situated opposite The Queens Tavern in Highgate, The Beaufort is home to three venues – Lotus (a modern Southeast Asian restaurant), Cypher (a speakeasy-style cocktail bar) and the main bar where you can enjoy drinks and pub grub.
With Bamm-Bamm and Pebbles in tow during the school holidays, my wife and I opted for pub grub on a glorious Spring evening.
The menu was a simple one-page number with sharing dishes, burgers, salads, mains, charcoal grill, pizza and a small range of desserts.
It was a nice mix that would satisfy everyone from the ravenous tradie (steak sandwich, beef and candied bacon sausage rolls, katsu chicken burger) to the effete connoisseur (Tasmanian salmon tartare, shark bay prawn linguini, salt and pepper cuttlefish).
The Beaufort has to be commended on its prices – the vast majority of dishes were under $30 with most of the burgers and pizzas around $24.
Compared to other major new venues opening up, that’s very reasonable and great value for a casual pub meal in these harsh economic times.
Unfortunately the meal got off to a ropey start with my 250g rump steak with paris mash and garlic buttered beans ($28).
I had asked for it medium – but the steak was overdone and the green beans underdone.
It was a shame as the rump was an excellent piece of meat with that mouth-watering chargrilled pattern, and was crammed with flavour.
The beans definitely had a satisfying crunch and added a bit of texture in-between mouthfuls of the creamy paris mash.
Despite problems with the execution, I still enjoyed the dish, especially when I added some of the mushroom sauce (more like a jus in consistency) enhancing the lovely flavour of the rump steak.
My wife’s chicken parmi ($26) was an absolute monster – a massive slab of chook that would have made a brickie weep with joy.
“You think a piece of chicken this size might be a bit dry in the middle, but it’s lovely and moist and very succulent,” my wife noted.
“The chips are crispy and not greasy at all with a really nice crunch and are fluffy inside.
“The salad is great as well – often an afterthought in these dishes, it’s a lovely mix of greens and radish with a sophisticated asian-style dressing with a sweet tang.
“There could have been some more tomato sauce on top of the parmi, but apart from that it’s an excellent and great value-for-money dish.”
My two young kids shared a Margherita pizza ($21 no basil) which was a good size and had plenty of stringy mozzarella and half-cut cherry tomatoes on top.
I had a sneaky taste and it had an authentic thin base and a lovely sugo. Top marks.
The Beaufort was an amazing venue and looking up at the atrium’s glass ceiling I could easily make out the moon, pitched against the flawless blue sky.
The venue had a massive terrace overlooking Beaufort Street, a dance floor, beer garden and numerous nooks and crannies to suit all ages and tastes.
The Beaufort is a solid choice for good-value pub grub in a fun, unique setting.
It’s a stunning new venue and addition to Highgate.
521-525 Beaufort Street, Highgate
by STEPHEN POLLOCK