Smith's Pub

777 Courtney St, tel: 360-2544

Replacing my beloved Old Bailey, the new Smith's Pub has potential for both drinking and dining. Having been by for drinks on a couple of occasions, I decided they were ready for the dining test. The menu has been scaled down from its predecessor's, but offers a number of similar pub items, spiffed up.

Chad and I arrived on a Tuesday for lunch. The room was pretty dead and we were attended to quickly. It's nice to see they've kept the spirit of the Old Bailey alive and maintained some aspects of the old menu- shepherd's pie, chicken pot pie and the 'Bailey burger' remain.

We started off with a couple of Strongbows ($7.5)to aid in our decision making. Our server was able to answer some questions and seemed to know both the menu and drink list reasonably well. We settled on the Fish Tacos ($12), Caesar Salad ($8) and the Lamb Burger ($12).

The Fish Tacos arrived first. Four small flour tortillas, about 3 oz of grilled halibut, some coleslaw and guacamole were presented in a 'build your own' style. I liked the idea, but the portion was small and the accompaniments kind of bland. Nothing on the plate was spicy and while I like guacamole and coleslaw, the dish lacked punch. Generally, I don't like a lot of deep-frying, but fish in a taco is usually better that way.

The Caesar Salad was better. A fairly light, albeit creamy dressing, Chad complained that Caesar salad dressings don't need to be creamy. I have to agree - someone wow us with a Caesar vinaigrette, please. I did like the shaved parmesan and the fresh toast points in place of croutons.

The Lamb Burger was the winner. I've been getting a lot of pre-fab lamb burgers lately and happily this one appeared to formed in-house. The foccacia bun was fresh and tasty and I was pleased with the addition of non-standard burger condiments. The accompanying salad tasted ok, but was a smidge wilted. 

The lunch time ambiance is a little low, but the service was good and the food above average for a pub. I would like to see some local content on the menu. Come winter, when it's cold and dark, eating and drinking at Smith's Pub will seem a more natural fit. The space needs to be broken in, but I'm happy that they've managed to keep a fairly laid-back atmosphere (although it would be impossible to be as laid back as the Old Bailey). The booze is a little more expensive than it used to be, but the food has potential and is reasonably priced.

Reviewed Sept 28. 06