The Henson Hotel, Marrickville
I have 3 sisters and we grew up doing everything together. Our Mother was fond of saying that she had 4 children so they could all play together and never need friends from “outside”. While this is fascinating and ensured we each had at least 3 friends it was also essentially flawed. We certainly did stick together, we managed to combine all of our “outside” friends in our family group and we went everywhere together.
Now that we have families of our own we don’t see each other enough. Every so often we ditch the outer circle, to be with each other, to reconnect and to become kids again. Fortunately we have replaced a big night out in the mosh pit with dinner and a couple of drinks. It’s just as much fun for us now as it was way back then, “outside” friends or not.
The other night we headed to The Henson in Marrickville. ( drinking, dining and revelry) Then on wards to The Gasoline Pony in the same suburb. We were warned to arrive by about 6 or 6.30pm We really tried, but getting ready together is chaotic. Although we never intend it, there is lots of trying on of clothes and drinks and ridiculous chatter and this time was no exception. We pulled up outside the Henson at around 7 pm. This pub is in a very quiet spot on the corner of Illawarra Rd and Chapel st, it’s features have changed little since it was built and the outside still sports the bathroom style tiles of a past era and posters from a more innocent and male dominated time. It’s atmospheric and has for many years sat idol and tonight, from the outside still looks idle if it weren’t for the illuminated “front bar” sign.
So we enter via the front bar to find a hub of activity, it’s far from being idle or deserted. Every table is occupied and there is a pool table fully in use. The Front bar is as quaintly unchanged as the outside of the building. It has new carpet and an old style games room but it features fresh music on the stereo and craft beer on tap. Around the back of the bar a doorway leads outside to a beer garden or what is now a kind of outdoor dining room. The beer garden and the main dining area has been transformed into an open modern space with a bar and a station where you can order food. Down side is you have to find a table before you order.
Every table is occupied and if every chair is not occupied it is being studiously saved for a mysterious friend who is yet to arrive. There are families with kids who claim large tables with toys and bags and we split up to search for some place to perch for sustenance. When we can’t find a table we decide to stand in the bistro line and order any way, this is a brazen move we hope will pay off. The girl taking the order is surprised and tells us she will try to help locate a place we can eat and with that encouraging promise we buy some drinks. Two sips into our drinks and we swoop on a table that has suddenly been vacated and it just seems like everything has taken a turn for the better. We tell stories, laugh and chat and we sit and watch the zoo of people around us. Many of those people are parents who don’t really seem to notice that the kids are running amok. Still it’s a warm night and sitting outside, its pleasantly relaxed i an outdoor BBQ kind of way.
The menu has an eclectic mix of food most of which is locally sourced with some of it grown in the garden. Much of the menu is made in house and although we only had mains we saw Ribs, Karaage chicken burgers, sweet potato fries, pulled pork tacos and great looking desserts go by. Prices range from $15 for something substantial and from $9 for desserts. Wines by the glass from $7, bottles between $30-40, cocktails from $10 . Lots of gluten free options too.
My Salmon was fresh and well cooked, and that means not dried out from too long on the grill. The crunchy vegetables had a gingery sauce that lapped at the fish with enticing sesame seeds and slivers of cucumber. The exotic sounding Free range Pork belly, sambal rice, perfectly cooked egg and a fresh salad was a compelling reason to return. If you like to keep it simple, a crispy skinned Baramundi with fat chips & crunchy well dressed salad is probably what you will be looking for. This family atmosphere was kind of fitting for us on a sisters excursion, if you don’t like a family or community atmosphere go later. We left a little merry, hence the blurry pictures. I will return for more of the fresh imaginative pub food, but next time I’m going at 6 pm.
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