When hanging your hat on a celebrity quote you do need to ensure you stay true to it. And true to it is what Bettenay’s at The Prince Alfred Hotel does. The food is unpretentious, the mood is down-to-earth mood and they undoubtedly have good beer. However Matt Preston’s quote does not convey any experience of service or the wine list, and it’s in these two areas that Bettenay’s lets itself down.
Gastro-pub goers beware; this is a family-friendly pub which serves interesting and hearty food at a good price. The menu is reasonably broad, so there’s pretty much something for everyone, including a selection of smaller staples for 'little people'. I was surprised (and a little impressed) to see the ‘GF’ advertised on their steaks and Fish of the Day dish, a pleasant change, although several of the other dishes and sides I would have expected to be Gluten Free were not tagged.
I ordered the GF oven roasted blue eye with roasted potato, sweet potato, onion, parsley, hommus and lemon $29. The blue eye was lovely, fresh and perfectly cooked, and sat on a bed of the combined balance of ingredients which made and interesting sort of chunky smash. Although I was concerned by the addition of croutons, and when I queried the waitress as to whether they were indeed Gluten Free, she looked at me blankly and indicated they would not be. A rather strange addition to the dish, it then fuelled my doubts over the GF nature of the rest of the dish.
Others at our table ordered Fish and Chips $24 – tasty but not noteworthy fried fare; Salt & Pepper Squid $20 – tender juicy morsels with a side of rocket and lemon line aioli; Gippsland Porterhouse $32 – a good cut with good flavour cooked exactly to order; the Famous $15 Porterhouse Classic – just as good although a lesser cut and stacked with fries; Broccolini with Pomegranate dressing $9 – a delicious side indeed if not the stems a little woody. All this and the company of our family would have made for a most enjoyable night if not for two aspects.
First, it was packed on this Friday night; a good indication of the quality of the food. But it meant that service was terribly slow both in placing an order and in receiving it. Second, the wine list is pretty bad. The best pick of the Tim Gramp Cabernet was sadly sold out, leaving us with the Jim Barry CSM $45 – a rather lack lustre wine from Jim who’s better known for his whites, particularly Riesling, of which Bettenay’s had none.
I’m not sure who conjured up the eclectic but sub-average list but they obviously don’t know a lot about wine, and like many restaurant wine lists these days, it’s driven by wine reps trying to move really cheap wine so restaurant can employ a big enough mark-up without appearing to be over charging. Unfortunately the list is bad and they, like so many others, could really use the help of Antony Anderson’s Wine Matchmaker roving sommelier service.
If wine’s not your poison then there is a very good selection of beers and ciders that may be more to your liking (and probably a better alternative than most, if not all, choices on the wine list). It was also unfortunate that the bar staff seemed to be rather disorganised – our drinks service generally was very tardy indeed, and it was hard to grab the wait staff’s attention as they busily looked through you scanning the dining room with a vacant well-meaning but ineffectual stare that makes you feel like you’re being deliberately ignored. And with the frustration of our experience at Bettenay’s we really didn’t feel we could persist through dessert and so called our evening to a slightly early close.
Would I return to Bettenay’s? Sure, I’d give it another go for a midweek lunch or Tuesday dinner (Monday is Trivia Night and Wednesday is $15 Pizza with Texas Hold’em Poker), but I’d ensure I went back outside their peak times. Oh, yeah … and I’d opt for a cider.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.