Deliciously Dialled Up Pub Grub
From about a block away, the aromas of the Poets Ale and Smokehouse begin to rush up your nostrils, luring you in. So the expectation dial, for some seriously flavoursome food, is set firmly to high before you even walk through the door.
Inside, the team has masterfully mixed traditional with modern, and the décor is bright and colourful with a mishmash of unmatched chairs and tables that align to create a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. We sat in the snug – the opposite side of the building to the large main bar area – where a huge window lets in a skyful of natural light, adding vividity to the array of colours in the room.
The Chop Shop
The first thing that strikes you when you look at The Poets Ale menu is ‘The Chop Shop’ section, where you’re informed that meat is a serious business at the pub. In fact, head chef Robin hand picks the best cuts then butchers, smokes and cures it all on site. Half Chicken is smoked using spiced fruit wood; the Brisket and Pulled Pork have been smoked for 16 hours. That’s some dedication to flavour, and they properly pull it off.
We chose the Smoked Wings and Ribs Sharing Platter, which we are warned is huge, and despite being served for two, could possibly feed a hungry family of four. Charcoaled corn-on-the-cob is sweet-yet-smoky and oozing with buttery goodness. The pulled pork is deep with flavour and swimming in thick BBQ sauce; the ribs are glazed and tender and the fat is rendered to crispy deliciousness. The chicken wings are a sensation; juicy inside and crunchy out.
Three-Cheese Macaroni and Zesty Rainbow Slaw
There’s three-cheese macaroni too, and it’s a gooey delight, the pasta perfectly al dente. A lime-pickled rainbow slaw cuts through the richness of the meats, adding a welcome fresh zing to the platter. Most importantly, it’s fun to eat: something of a pick ‘n’ mix of flavours and textures brought out the (not so hidden) kids in us.
We should have stopped there, but the Poet’s kebabs are renowned, so we soldiered on in pursuit of sampling the goods. We plumped (we were getting there) for the Smoked Chicken Shish Kebab, served on warm naan bread and balanced with garlic and coriander cream. This combination, with even more delicious pickles, made each mouthful a joy. And the small plate of chargrilled chipotle street corn, topped with dollops of garlicky coriander cream and salty smoked feta, is just stunning.
All of it looks great – the presentation indicates the team’s pride in each dish. This is great comfort food, designed for dig-in nostalgia and glee. It’s time to get your hands dirty – and your chin oozy – The Poets Ale transported us to a land of pleasure you won’t want to miss.