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Lifestyle : Pubs and Clubs 2012
1HERSA1 0019 The Sydney Morning Herald smh.com.au/goodliving Tuesday, April 24, 2012 19 good living New game in town . . . (clockwise from left) Stuzzichino Restaurant; Colin Fassnidge; Bankstown Sports Club; the Duck Inn's coconut and pistachio ice-cream; Pizzeria Bellucci. Photos: Fiona Morris, Domino Postiglione, Paramount Studios, Simon Alekna Food has been a key factor in the successful remodelling of a number of older pubs. The Duck Inn Pub and Kitchen in Chippendale was born of the old Duck and Swan Hotel. The venue sold its pokie machines to pay for the refurbishment. ''Now the focus is on serving quality food at pub prices, with a good wine list and beer selection, in a very casual and relaxing, light-filled place,'' says the owner, Ben Kirkman, who serves dishes from chicken liver parfait with onion marmalade to beef burgers with farmhouse cheese, bacon, relish and fries. ''I spent the last six years in London and fell in love with the way the pubs did things there, without gaming. They were an extension of people's living rooms.'' Good food is also one of the reasons the Paddington Arms does so well. Four in Hand chef Colin Fassnidge oversees the menu. The global financial crisis and fears about interest rate rises have put a squeeze on consumer spending, but licensee Michael Lenehan says quality food, drink and the promise of fun are his secret weapons. Menu favourites include slow- cooked lamb shoulder with sorrel juice, confit tomato and fennel, and battered local silvery dory with chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce. The explosion of small bars has done nothing to dent demand. ''They more complement what we do,'' Lenehan says. ''They offer a different range of services and their size means they're very limited in what they can do.'' At Alexandria's Technology Park Hotel (formerly the Boundary Hotel), owner Glenn Turnbull prefers to focus on food, drink, atmosphere and a friendly publican, rather than rely on pokies. ''Our motto is we're a little bit different,'' he says of the pub, which has a drag trivia night on Wednesdays and an old-fashioned jazz band on Sundays. The Mill Hotel in Milperra rose from the ashes of the notorious Viking Tavern. These days, it has a full menu, including such gems as a rack of sticky barbecue pork ribs served with creamy coleslaw and seasoned wedges, and a fresh seafood bouillabaisse teamed with crusty herbed bread. ''Our food was nowhere near the standard it is now,'' says publican Brenden Kelly. ''Before, we had a Chinese menu in a little bistro. Now we've extended the pub and have an executive chef and it's extremely good.'' Changing the styles of food, drink and entertainment has also paid dividends for some pubs and clubs that were struggling. The Northern Suburbs Rugby Club in St Leonards has been remodelled as the younger and groovier Cabana Bar and Lounge, and the Springwood Sports Club was completely rebuilt 18 months ago as a larger, state-of- the-art club, offering freshly cooked fare. Its membership has risen from 1400 to nearly 9000. ''All our meals are now freshly prepared,'' the chairman of the club's board, Eddy Harris, says. ''You have to always know what people want, and then be prepared to change to satisfy demand.''
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