November 26, 2022

“It’s very competitive in Fremantle, which is why classic old pubs like the Norfolk have had to double down and stick to their knits,” says Gossati. “It’s not that we’re trendy or old-fashioned. We grow old with our customers.

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“Keep in mind that we need to change to keep up with the times and changing customer demands, but any change needs to be done subtly, in a gentle way, so that we don’t replace anyone. The change should never be so noticeable that you say “what’s going on here?”.

“For example, we were the first hotel in Fremantle to pour proper wine. Up until that point, a wine glass was a thick catering company glass, filled to the brim. I brought large, finely made wine glasses and filled them less than a third full.

“It was still a regulated pour, but the larger glass gave it room to breathe and enjoy better, which is now standard in the industry. But initially our customers were like, “Wait, dude. Where is the rest of the wine?”.

The secret to a proper traditional Australian drink dinkum? “Keep it real,” says Gosatti.

Which they do at the glorious Windsor Hotel in South Perth, a pub that is, in many ways, like a mullet: business in the front, parties in the back.

Its front bar is a haven for traditional pub-goers – yes, even pony-stabbing oldies – and the Windsor dutifully caters to their tastes. At the rear of the property, the Garden Bar has a seasonal produce and food based menu that changes regularly and – what horror! — pours craft beer made at the pub’s own micro-brewery.

Fourth-generation publican Ella Ogden is one of the new generation of hoteliers. Despite her youth and enthusiasm for change, she’s not throwing out the Windsor baby with the fashionable bathwater.

“Customers at our corner bar want no-nonsense, no-fuss service and good cold beer,” says Ogden. “We put wooden barrels on the bar every Friday and punters can order a ‘wooden’ beer. We have a bell in the bar. If you call, you call the bar. Not many people do it, but the tradition still remains.”

Ogden – whose father Geoff is a famous old-school publican with a well-tuned BS radar and no time for trendy ideas – says she follows her father’s way of running pubs but is “slowly, gradually making small small. changes” that will not frighten the horses.

She says one of The Windsor’s greatest assets “is the building and the location. It’s a classic pub because it’s on a busy corner, it’s a beautiful heritage listed building and it makes a prominent statement in the heart of South Perth.”

Ogden says reliability is a big part of how a classic pub does business. “The quintessential Aussie pub trades all the time, lunch and dinner, and it’s thought it will always be open.”

The Windsor is a family run business, an increasingly rare thing these days where most pubs are owned by large publicly listed hospitality groups. “This matters to people, especially our long-term customers,” says Ogden.

“We have regulars who have been drinking here for 40 years and staff who have been serving them for the same amount of time. And our regulars don’t hesitate when they think we’ve moved in the wrong direction or done something that detracts from the classic pub service they enjoy. We are very lucky to have customers who care about these things.”

So if you need a beer (or wine) served without fuss or noise in a pub that simply does its job of selling you a cold drink with chicken parmi, The Norfolk and The Windsor are for you But wait, there are more. Here are our recommendations for traditional pubs in Perth.

Perth’s pubs keep it real

  • The Albion Hotel, Cottesloe. Sit in the front bar with all the sports fans, hi-vis tradies, happy hour locals and older folks and enjoy simple food and not a craft beer in sight. There is, however, a full-sized Melbourne Tram in the back bar.
  • Chidlow Tavern. Thursday is “parmi and a pint” night. Happy hour starts at 4.30pm every afternoon. While on the outside it looks like a run-down quarter of shearers, inside its menu of good beers and classic pub fare (burgers, steaks, garlic prawns) are all you need.
  • The Woodbridge Hotel, Guildford. The Woody is as cool as old school gets. Enjoy creamy garlic shrimp and whole baked brie with your beer selection.
  • Captain Stirling, Nedlands. Once a favorite haunt of the late Alan Bond, The Captain has retained its traditional style of bar pool tables. Sports fans love the big screens while getting their fish and chips.
  • Mundaring Hotel. It’s a bit flashy these days, but the traditional roots show, with Thursday parmi nights and suitably cold beer in the front bar.

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