The Guildford Hotel until now has been closed since 2008 when fire destroyed the 125-year-old hotel and so the opening of this iconic building was definitely going to be full of fanfare now that the renovations are complete.
Perthanalities, sports stars and media were invited to the grand opening and what an event it was. With an abundance of beer, wine and cocktails on offer, it certainly got the crowd into the party atmosphere. The Guildford Hotel is an impressive space and with multiple rooms across two levels, the place was full of people eager to check out the overhaul of this iconic venue.
Located only 10km northeast of the Perth CBD, The Guildford Hotel is ideally positioned immediately adjacent to the Guildford Train Station and is the main building you view as you drive into the Swan Valley area.
The Guildford Hotel is beautiful and 150 years after the pub was first built, the restoration of the hotel by the Fratelle Group is certainly impressive. They have created an expansive area featuring bars, restaurant, beer garden and function facilities. Restoration of the hotel includes the original tiles, doors, fireplaces and windows being retained. Giant jarrah roof beams and charred convict made bricks are a feature throughout.
Bite size versions of what is on offer from The Guildford Hotel’s main menu were nibbled on. There is a heavy Asian influence with the food, which for me is great, as I love Asian cuisine however some of the choices are a little unusual. We sampled the two kinds of bao buns; one with smoked pork and the other with fried green tomatoes. The buns were soft, smooth and pillow-y, just the way they should be and the smoked pork is melt in your mouth heaven. The tomato version was a no go for me as the combination of fried tomato is a bit too bland and unusual. The kimchi was perfect but there wasn’t any flavour from the main ingredient so the bun was spicy yet flavourless.
The lamb ribs smothered in a sticky beer sauce were oh so tender and easily fell off the bone. I love this kind of meal in the cooler months so the sample size portion was something I would definitely enjoy as a main meal. The fried cheeseburger spring rolls were unusual and although I liked the creativity, I prefer the traditional version of spring rolls. They taste like a cheeseburger with that patty flavour and pickle and mayo dressing but dressed as a spring roll, I’m not won over. They are more of a novelty and just ok for me. The croquettes with salted popcorn were an interesting combination but they tasted good and I didn’t mind this variation of them.
After experiencing the opening of The Guildford Hotel, I was curious to see how they would fare once open to the public so last Wednesday night, my husband, sister and brother in law and my in laws (plus two toddlers in tow) headed to The Guildford Hotel for dinner. I had rung up to book but because it’s a walk in restaurant we were told to just turn up. I was hopeful we would be able to be seated as I figured they would be busy because every one loves a new venue and with all the hype surrounding The Guildford Hotel, I guessed it would be a hot favourite for many.
Busy is an understatement and every table at The Guildford Hotel was occupied. The outdoor area was also full with people enjoying food and a mid week beer. Further inspection upstairs was equally buzzing, with people mingling around the bar and enjoying the warmth of the fireplaces as they relaxed in the sofas strategically placed around the main area.
Luckily, my in laws had arrived a bit earlier than us so managed to nab one of the high tables that seated all of us. Two high chairs on the side and we were set to order.
My husband that morning had spoken of his desire for a quality chicken parmigiana but alas no such luck for him. The Guildford Hotel has steered away from traditional pub grub and focused more on Asian style fusion inspired shares and burgers. No matter, everyone loves a burger and once our meals were decided upon, it was a trip to the counter to place our orders.
The Gilly Cheeseburger, two Dirty Doubles, two Po Boys, a Caesar Salad and a Chicken Pop and Salad for the kids to share were ordered whilst we settled back to chat and enjoy the atmosphere of the pub.
The staff was really great, very friendly and accommodating throughout the entire evening. There was a mix up with the child’s meal we ordered and it ended up coming out after we’d finished the adult meals. One staff member in particular was very apologetic and kept checking to see if it had arrived and went to the kitchen several times to find out what had happened to it.
The mains ordered were a little hit and miss for all of us. The two who ate the Dirty Doubles said they were delicious and when I quizzed my husband for more detail, he said it was so satisfying and the meat was really good quality. For $24, he thought it was a substantial size and said he would order it again. My brother in law gave it two thumbs up and said it was just that good.
The Gilly Cheeseburger was a little underwhelming given that it’s $21. It was on the smaller size and my mother in law said it was nice but nothing special and she was left unsatisfied once it was eaten.
I found the Po Boy to be a bit of the same. The meat was tender and flavoursome but there wasn’t much of it and the Asian slaw that accompanied it was devoid of dressing and more than a scattering in the burger than a serve. My father in law agreed and said he was overly unimpressed with the meal.
The Caesar Salad was also a little disappointing. I think I just assume pub meals will be large portions and for a salad, I expect it to be packed with lettuce and chicken whereas my sister in law declared this one nice but she said it looked average presentation wise and wasn’t particularly filling.
Overall, I think The Guildford Hotel has a lot going for it and is clearly popular with locals and people who are keen to visit and check out the renovations. It looks amazing and it has a really cozy, inviting atmosphere whether you dine inside, out in the alfresco area or upstairs in the more intimate lounge area. The food for me is a bit hit or miss but maybe I expect too much from a pub. The pricing too is quite high for what you get. For me, if the portion sizes were larger, the cost could be justified or they need to re-evaluate how much they charge for smaller than average portions. Would I head back to The Guildford Hotel? The answer is yes but I might just order a few more things next time to satisfy my appetite and make sure it’s the week I get paid.