Shoreline Hotel Bistro

Licensed $
10 Shoreline Drive, Howrah
03) 6247 9504
Open: Lunch noon to 2pm, dinner from 5.30pm daily.

The bistro is a large, light-filled place seating about 200 including some outside. The focal point of the room is a long, twin-sided baine marie or what they call their ‘gourmet bar’ holding a good range of salads and cold veggies on one side and a warm selection of roasted vegetables and vegetable bakes on the other, the price of which is included in all the main courses. With just an entrée, the price is $12. And the menu advises that you can return to the gourmet bar as many times as you like.

At lunch, the dining area was about a third full of silver and grey-haired couples and groups enjoying their choices from a discounted Seniors Lunch menu occasionally interrupting their meal to help themselves to another serving of salad or vegetables.

From the normal menu, I ordered beer battered prawns. When they arrived, I was reminded of an occasion some years ago when I asked a couple of fellow restaurant critics why they’d down-graded a particular well-regarded establishment. “Oh, we no longer do sauces” was their answer. Which I thought was pretty strange. Surely a restaurant reviewer’s job is not to decide whether an establishment should or should not ‘do sauces’ but, if they do then to judge how appropriate the sauces are and how well they’re made.

Whether you’re dining or reviewing, your assessment surely needs to be in context.

The prawns were clearly from Asia and had been frozen. Unacceptable in a restaurant aspiring to a star rating but, unless you were in Yamba or Mooloolaba, that’s exactly what you’d expect in a pub bistro. Besides the batter was nicely crisp, the oil obviously fresh and clean, the accompanying slaw was fresh and pleasantly dressed and, with eight prawns threaded onto two skewers for $15, I thought it reasonable value. So, in context, they were good.

However, I wished I could say the same of the cauliflower risotto that followed. In whatever context, it was poor. Creamily textured but essentially flavourless, either due to the use of a very bland cooking stock or because the flavours of white beans, cauliflower, capers, semi-dried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts rather than complimenting each other, cancelled each other out with the very generous serving ending up tasting of nothing.

The kitchen then redeemed itself with a good porterhouse steak perfectly char-grilled blue as requested and accompanied by a pile of crisp chips. As steak and chips go in pubs around town it was one of the better ones.

With nine starters/entrees, 15 mains plus steaks, five desserts and flavours running from Thai, Italian, South America through to pub favourites such as beef pie and chicken schnitzel the menu is a well composed and reasonably priced something-for-everyone offering

With one of the city’s better hotel bottle shops, the wine choices were disappointingly limited. But, on the day, most people seemed to drinking beer anyway.

Soup $8, pizza $14, satay chicken skewers $15, pate and cheese $19, mains $24 to $33, 200g/400g steaks $28 to $45

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