Maroubra Bay Hotel

Maroubra Bay Hotel


Surfers' turf, by Joel Gibson - The Sydney Morning Herald (credit)

The Wild East finally yields to the hip - but some things don't change at Maroubra Bay Hotel.

Maroubra Bay Hotel
Open Mon-Fri 10am-midnight, Sat-Sun noon-midnight.
Highs: Location, location, location. And the steak.
Lows: Limited wine list.
Vibe: No nonsense, albeit plenty of stripes.
Crowd: Bondi without the models.
Drinks: Schooners from $4, wine $4.50-$7.

Much like the suburb behind it, the pub on this spot used to be labyrinthine, half full and with an air of the Wild East about it. Patrons wouldn't have batted an eyelid had they walked out after a few schooners - a few mineral waters, even - and seen a tumbleweed rolling by.

The Sydney property market, however, comes to all those beachside suburbs that wait. The Seals club is intact, the charcoal chicken shops and surf shops remain ... but look across the road, to the north.

There you'll see the signs of progress: a block of schmick new apartments above the freshly tiled and renovated Maroubra Bay Hotel, now half as labyrinthine but twice as hip and owned by the Solotel Group - the crowd that gave us Double Bay's Golden Sheaf Hotel and the Paddington Inn.

Maroubra has earned its stripes and, to celebrate, the pub's designer has laid them on thick. There are stripes on the light shades inside, stripes in the carpet, stripes on the roof, the walls and the cane couches.

If we were in Paddington, there probably would be striped shirts on the clientele, too; mercifully, Maroubra's patrons still wear the surf brands and workwear they always have worn, tucking into $6 steaks (Monday to Thursday, lunch and dinner) and drinking schooners.

For us, though, Maroubra's a night out, so we order a couple of glasses of the house's Leftbank brand red and soak them up with an $18 char-grilled scotch fillet with potato gratin and red wine jus, plus the $12 chicken parmijana (sic) with grilled vegies, chips and salad.

The steak comes with chips at first - "the chef's obviously in $6 steak mode," notes the beefeater - but then he arrives, apologetic, with the gratin.

Already cross-eyed from staring at all the stripes and struck dumb that the word "jus" has made its way to the Maroubra Bay, not to mention gratin, we're now faced with the sight of two plates the size of tractor wheels piled with food - and a gratin on the side. These are some of the largest pub bistro meals known to humankind.

Were the steak not so good, it might be hard work to get through. The chicken pulls its weight, but the beef is juicy, so tender you could cut it with a fish knife, and smokey in flavour. The beefeater is so impressed she eats the whole thing and I have to explain to her that a beefeater's role is to taste, live or die, and then hand it over to the king.

Oh, well. We'll come back in the summertime when the petition on the bar calling for outdoor seating has done its job and I'll eat a steak with a view of some real waves. Meanwhile, I loll back in a comfy cane chair, gawk at one of the stream of surfing videos piped through the place and wonder how many other pubs in Sydney amuse patrons by showing wave after giant Tahitian wave in the main bar.

The jukebox must have avoided the designer's touch: it's still playing Paula Abdul, New Kids On The Block and the Travelling Wilburys.




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