Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The pub with no plonk

Bizarre things do happen. I dropped in to the Vegas Hotel yesterday evening for a drink with some local friends and as usual ordered a wine, white in this case.

At 'Pie O'Clock' as Bill calls it -- when the pub lays on a nice selection of party pies and sausage rolls -- I returned to the bar for a second wine to wash down the food, thinking this a reasonable desire in a place that serves little but pies, 'piss' and pokies. After all that's why I was there.

But they had only enough white for about an inch in the glass. The barmaid asked someone to get some more and said I could have the splash of wine in the meantime, no charge.

After a while I went back, to be told there was no white. I thought about it and decided I'd simply switch to red. Different bar person, same problem -- an inch of red in my glass was all they had left and nor was any going to arrive. Bemused and needing to wash down a pie, I asked could I have the quarter-glass of wine.

No, I was told, you have to pay for it. OK, I replied, how much for that?

Full price.

Taken aback, I checked -- you mean I have to pay full price for a quarter-glass of wine?


I refused this kind offer, thinking the wine would have to be tossed down the sink. But no, the bar person got a small funnel and poured it back into the bottle!

For a moment I felt trapped in a Kafka-esque parallel reality.

Aghast at yet another demonstration of poor Sydney hospitality, I left the pub and went home.

There I cooked a delicious dinner washed down with a decent white followed by some Wolf Blas port and a nice cigar (no inhaling!) to the strains of John Eliot Gardiner’s gorgeous recordings of Beethoven 5 and 6.

It was an oasis of cocooned culture in this still struggling city.


Anonymous said...

Not unsurprising with the staff at that hotel.

Anyhow the era of the small bars is anew with Veluttio and 9Ward

The Editor said...

Actually I usually find the bar staff at that pub to be excellent, simply because they are Thai and therefore have an acute awareness of customers' needs and preferences, and work happily. I blame the managers who let the wine run out.

Small bars? Too expensive for me. Strictly for the big spenders, just more gentrification as far as I can see. Sydney can't get anything right.

I follow the $3 happy hours religiously. These days its a rewarding experience as so many places have realised they can't all live on up-market punters only -- no matter how much they have spent on renovations. You watch the same thing happen to the small bars.

Andrew L said...

This is a bit unfair. I'm a local too and Vegas is my watering-hole of choice. Compared to the other venues around here Vegas really does go the extra mile to look after the locals, the service is excellent, the staff are the friendliest in the area, there is no attitude, the price is right, free snacks as you mentioned. One minor incident and you're ready to blast the place? That type of incident is the norm at every other venue in the area where no one knows your name and no one cares; even the editor would have to admit that 99% of the time the staff at Vegas really do get it right and really do look after the locals.

The Editor said...

On the whole I agree with you, Andrew (see my comment above yours). But I have NEVER been to a pub that had no wine. As I said in the comment, I blame management. The bar staff are generally excellent.