The big neighbourhood pub on the corner of Maitland Road and Hanbury Street in Mayfield has become something of a music lover’s hotspot. The Stag and Hunter boasts a mighty fine repertoire of musical acts on any given Friday or Saturday night these days. But how does the food stack up? Is it worth coming in for a meal before a show?
Even though the place has had a facelift, at heart, it still feels like an old-school pub. The place is huge with different areas: a front bar, a beergarden at the back, function rooms upstairs and a large bistro area on the ground floor.
It’s booked out on a Friday night with little blackboards on tables showing all the reservations and people about to descend upon the kitchen. We’ve arrived early for a pre-dinner drink and with a designated bar area in the bistro, it makes ordering drinks a whole lot easier. A beer, a wine and a Mayfield Mule (served in a very hipster enamel cup) later and we’re ready to eat.
Start with the house made chilli cornbread with maple bacon butter. The freshly-baked bread is hot out of the oven and three pieces are cut thickly. Whipped yellow butter with maple bacon dotted throughout. It's a sweet combination – almost too sweet – and then the chilli kicks in. It has a crunchy crust, but inside is super soft and crumbly.
Six spiced barramundi croquettes with chilli jam and herb salad are a plate full of colour and flavour. Mint and coriander. Crunchy battered fishy balls are sprinkled with mint and coriander and sit in a puddle of bottled sweet chilli sauce. Bright pink pickled red cabbage adds another level of zing to the dish. It’s a good one for sharing.
By now it’s about 7.30pm and the place is filling up. Despite the size and number of people, it’s not that noisy and we can still have a chat without the need to raise voices.
Moving on to the main affair, you can find all the classics you would expect to see on a pub menu. Pie, fish and chips, steaks and schnitzels. The point of difference here is the quality of the produce.
A classic schnitty is big and hot and comes with real mash and veggies (or chips or salad). The crumb is great – crunchy and golden, without drying out the bird. The mushroom sauce is rich and full of flavour but a few more mushrooms wouldn’t have gone astray. The veggies are still pretty crunchy to maintain their structure, but there is a good gravy and mash to schnitzel ratio.
A vegetarian pumpkin pasta dish is hearty and tasty. There is plenty of roasted pumpkin and red onion, crispy sage, pine nuts and spinach tossed through the orecchiette. It’s got a nice amount of pepper and it’s not too oily, which is nice.
The specials board boast a pizza of the day, bangers and mash and other offerings, as well as a roast chicken risotto. It’s a big bowl of very cheesy arborio rice with poached chicken pieces, sugar snap peas and a red wine jus. The chicken could use some seasoning to take charge against the strong cheese. There is also tomato which adds some lightness and acidity to the dish and the snow peas add freshness. Overall it’s fine, just a bit of a strange flavour experiment.
There’s still room for dessert when we hear the options. An apple and rhubarb crumble with cream and vanilla ice-cream is perfect for winter. It is served in an enamel bowl and is very hot. The chunky crumble is like shortbread. This is a classic at its best.
Sticky date pudding looks more like a soufflé – it’s quite high light and fluffy. But it’s so moist and with a slight bitter butterscotch toffee sauce and creamy ice-cream it’s fabulous. Desserts are big and best for sharing. A great end to the meal.
The Stag and Hunter is a pub worth a visit, with or without seeing the music. It’s good for families, friends and anyone wanting a easy weekday meal. Be sure to check out the nightly specials too.
- What: The Stag and Hunter
- Where: 187 Maitland Rd, Mayfield
- Contact: 4968 1205; stagandhunter.com.au
- Bistro hours: Lunch 12pm – 2pm; Dinner 5:30pm – 9pm seven days. Fri-Sat – 9.30pm
- Owner: Alan Moyle; Manager Mick Starkey
- Drinks: Tap/bottle beer; wines; cocktails.
- Vegetarian: 1 entree, 1 main, plus sides.
- Wheelchair access: Yes.
- Bottom line: Entrees $14-16.50; mains $16.50- 33.90.
- Do try: The chilli cornbread; and dessert.