It’s hard to argue that the Lambton Park Hotel isn’t part of the fabric of the suburb and the city. First established in 1881, it also lays claim to being across the road from Newcastle’s first ever game of soccer. I’m sure they all popped in for a recovery beer after the match.
This grand old girl on the corner – known as the Exchange Hotel until 1985 – has seen owners, patrons and beers come and go over the years.
Perched on the corner of Morehead and Howe streets, and opposite Lambton Park, it’s right in the centre of the things, a warm heart pumping out comforting meals in a relaxed atmosphere.
The menu offers a mix of all the classics you’d come to expect from a pub kitchen, plus a few that you wouldn’t. There are share plates, gourmet salads and twists on old favourites, and the classics aren’t just the deep fry and bain-marie versions. They’re fresh and flavoursome.
There are seven classics to choose from: pot pie of the day (today it’s chicken boscaiola); soda-battered fish and chips; meatloaf; squid and chorizo pasta; chicken schnitzel, chicken parmigiana and nachos.
Then there’s also the weekend roast. This particular night, diners are here in full force for the 12-hour slow-cooked pork belly with poached star anise and fennel pear, chat potatoes, beans and cider jus. It’s a touch of home, away from home.
Of the classics, the meatloaf draws my attention. It’s been a dinner staple for many and it’s nice to see that it is delivered with the necessary warmth and TLC. Two big slabs of bacon-wrapped meatloaf arrive perched on a bed of buttery sweet potato mash and a side of green beans with garlic, cheese and almonds. The meatloaf is sweet, filled with chunks of onion, and fried lightly on both sides. It’s hearty with heart. It’s home-style cooking with confidence. I devour it.
It’s a busy Sunday night and the burgers are coming thick and fast out of the kitchen. If you opt for the cheeseburger on a soft brioche bun, it can come pink or cooked through to your liking. They’ve run out of brioche buns by the time we order a chicken burger, but the toasted sesame seed variety does the job just fine. The chicken is battered in buttermilk, so it’s crispy and crunchy without being oily. Melted Swiss cheese is super cheesy, jalapeño aioli adds a little kick, and juicy coleslaw adds loads of texture and slurping. The burgers come with a huge pile of thin fries, perfectly cooked. You can request a sweet potato option for $5 more.
Flexing their cooking muscle, the kitchen also has a long list of more carnivorous meals: rump and eye fillet, barramundi and salmon, pork cutlets and lamb shoulders. A beef short rib special also features tonight. It’s still meat and three vegies, but the meat is cooked the way it should be and the vegies haven’t been boiled to within an inch of their lives.
Old-school dessert comes in the shape of apple crumble with ice-cream and a chocolate brownie with candied popcorn, peanut brittle and ice-cream. Both are delicious.
Being a pub, obviously there are plenty of beers on tap and by the bottle, and this being the city of craft beer, there are plenty of crafty options. For the non-ale drinkers, there is predominantly Australian and New Zealand wines by the bottle and glass.
If you choose to dine through the week or through the day, there are plenty of specials to take advantage of and some dishes you’ll want to come for that you can’t get at dinner time.
If you’re fortunate enough to have the Lambton Park Hotel as your local, or even if you travel to make it so, you’ve got great food and a great vibe to make you feel right at home.
- What: The Lambton Park Hotel
- Where: 19A Morehead Street, Lambton
- Contact: 4956 1376 or lambtonparkhotel.com.au
- Hours: Kitchen open 7 days 12-3pm and 5.30-9pm.
- Head Chef: Stephen Gibson
- Drinks: Beer on tap, wines $6.5-9 by glass; $25-55 by bottle.
- Vegetarian: Four starters, two salads, one burger.
- Wheelchair: Yes.
- Bottom line: Dishes are $10-$36; desserts $9. Plus lunch and dinner specials.
- Do try: A pint and a burger with fries.