I’m visiting a good mate who moved to Rockhampton (Rocky) a couple of years ago. Rocky has a country vibe and is known as the beef capital of Australia. I’m not a huge fan of beef but you know…when in Rome…
We’re visiting three pubs while I’m here for some country fare. The first two are heritage listed hotels in the centre of town. Both were built in the late 19th century when there was an influx of wealth (and workers) after gold was discovered nearby. The third is technically not in Rocky but in Yeppoon, on the coast, around half an hour away.
The Heritage Hotel
I love the gorgeous exterior of this late 19th Century hotel located on Quay St opposite the wharf on the Fitzroy River. Formally the Commercial Hotel and Chambers, the architecture is quite representative of the period.
I adore this building. The intricate lattice work on the balcony really gives the building it’s pride. My mate and I pop in for lunch on this Saturday.
While burgers and fish & chips feature on the lunchtime menu, my mate orders the Beef Schnitzel. It comes with pub chips, a salad and gravy. I can’t believe the schnitzels thickness as he ploughes into it, yet it is cooked perfectly. I end up with food envy seeing this meal.
This may be why I have food envy. Where’s the sour cream? There is none in this stroganoff. I’m sure there are several versions that don’t include sour cream but traditionally, I think it should have it. This version tastes more like beef in onion gravy, I can’t find much of a hint of paprika either. However, the meat is not chewy, perfectly cooked and the mash is creamy and I would give the dish a point if it was to be scored!
The Criterion Hotel
Built in 1889, the Criterion Hotel or the ‘Cri’ as it is affectionally known, has hosted Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and was the planning headquarters for the Battle of the Coral Sea during World War Two.
It is quite a stunning hotel and located right on the riverfront alongside several other lovely 19th century buildings.
I’ve reserved a table. The Criterion is worth booking for dinner as it can get quite popular with locals and travellers.
While it looks quite empty for our 6:30pm reservation, it fills up quickly and the line to order dinner snakes around the bar. The menu include the regular pub fare such as chicken and steaks.
The jalapeño mac & cheese croquettes are huge and they are devoured pretty quickly. We share this entree and the only issue is that they didn’t bring us plates or cutlery. I try to go up to the order counter but the line has become too long. These are very moorish, nonetheless.
My friend has the Chicken Kiev which is quite a large serving. He states his preference is not to have it on the bone but it is nice all the same. The salad has a lot of capsicum in it but is nicely dressed with a ranch style dressing.
I order the beef, ‘The Smaller Rump’, 200g, medium-well, it is tasty with nicely grilled charred bits. A larger rump can be ordered 300g for AU$35. The baked potato is well cooked and nice and fluffy as you would expect. Again, a little overkill with the capsicum in the salad but it was still nice.
The Strand Hotel – Yeppoon
The Strand Hotel is located on Anzac Parade, opposite Yeppoon’s Main Beach. While it’s not a heritage building, it’s got the perfect location and is great for people watching.
Yeppoon is around a 30 minute drive from Rocky. After a bit of a wander, we stop in at the Strand Hotel for an early lunch. It is 10:55am so we have to wait a full 5 minutes until the lunch menu is available to place an order. They serve the regular bar fare such as schnitzels, burgers and Caesar salads and also pizza’s.
With funky, beachy vibes and modern interior, The Strand has very friendly staff which is also why it may be a popular venue on the Capricorn Coast.
Matey has the Bacon and Egg on Turkish bread. While the egg and the caramelised onions are freshly fried, the bacon he said was stone cold and the Turkish bread not toasted which, we both agreed, makes Turkish bread a bit chewy.
Being on the coast (and having had enough beef) I order the Whiting, chips and salad which is one of the specials of the day. It was done quite well. Pub chips are just pub chips and while the salad is really just a handful of coleslaw dressed (as salad), the fish was quite delicious.
While all meals were at a reasonably priced, I’d say the Jalapeño Mac & Cheese Croquettes were most definitely the standout dish at these three pubs. Rockhampton is an interesting destination as is their pubs. Rocky – I would recommend to anyone looking for something a little historic and bit quirky and not to give their pubs a miss.
MattySomewhere made his way to Rockhampton independently.
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