With “no pokies, and no gambling of any kind,” The Merton Hotel is “very family-oriented,” explains Bar Manager Jake Dylan. He’s handsome, personable, and a wedding singer on weekends (which accounts for the pub’s great playlist). Over a Peroni ($7.00/schooner) and Cascade Premium Draft ($4.00/375ml) in the cosy front bar, he offers us a taste-test of the hotel’s two chardonnays. We head out to the bistro armed with the 2011 Botanica ($30/bottle), priced – like the bulk of their list – under-forty bucks. The menu combines the talents of a Thai Head Chef and a Mexican Sous Chef in a delightfully successful way. Drawn in by their use of Booma Boers goat meat from Dorrigo NSW, Curry Goat ($23) is a must. It’s a rich, flavoursome Caribbean curry featuring ginger, shallots, chillies, thyme and allspice presented on a platter with rice, flatbread and yoghurt. A dollop of the tableside Pickapeppa Spicy Mango Sauce adds an element of sweetness to the robust flavours and achingly tender goat. It also goes well with Jamaican Jerk Chicken ($22) and Pulled Pork Tacos ($14/3). Betel Leaves ($8/3) topped with citrus, coconut and peanut are enough to convince me to come back to try the Thai side of the menu, and they even offer some traditional pub favourites too.
The Merton Hotel
38 Victoria Road, Rozelle
Ph: (02) 8065 9577 themertonhotel.com.au
Pub Bistro, Wine, Jamaican $$