Just last week I visited one of Brisbane’s most iconic pubs, The Royal Hotel Nundah, which has been serving up meals, beers and entertainment to patrons since 1888. I also arrived just in time to see its new $1.1 million dollar makeover. I would’ve loved to have seen it in its old state first, but as I was soon to find out, the pub has some solid entertainment options and one of my favourite beers on tap.
The Royal Hotel Nundah is pretty clean and new-looking. It’s also spacious and it’s easy to travel about the different sections of the pub. Apart from that, I thought it was a pretty standard-looking place and it doesn’t appear to have retained any of its older, heritage look. However, it all depends on what you like in a pub, as you might love its new look. For me, I like my pubs with a little more character.
Saying that, it certainly still draws a crowd, and the liveliness makes you feel like you’re on a decent night out and not just passing the time. I love the open-plan kitchen too, particularly as there’s a pastry section with a pastry chef in proper attire. The flames coming off the hob and the grill also make for a nice touch, and seeing the chefs labour over your food adds to the feel of ‘busyness’ that pervades the pub.
The Drinks – The Royal Hotel Nundah
One of the first things I check out in a pub is the selection of beers, and I admit to being a little disappointed upon first inspection. I checked out the sports bar area and the bistro and many of the beers were commercial. However, there were a few, such as the One and Fifty Lashes and Guinness on tap, which make up for it. Even better, there was one of my favourite beers on tap, the White Rabbit Dark Ale, which I enjoyed slurping on this night.
I didn’t check out the wine selection, but I saw the bar staff making some cocktails such as these espresso martinis (see below). They looked pretty darn tasty and the staff appeared to know what they were doing. As a few of our party bought cocktails too (with good reports), it’s safe to say the cocktail standards are decent at the Royal Hotel Nundah.
I was with a pretty large party of about 15 or so and everyone appeared to enjoy their food on the whole. My partner and father-in-law ordered the barramundi, which they said was crispy, succulent and full of flavour. However, they also said the accompanying potatoes were dry and let the meal down a little.
One of our party ordered the same dish as me, the pasta marinara, which she was raving about. As she got hers before mine, I was psyched for a seafood extravaganza. It looked pretty appetising, with a big char-grilled Moreton Bay bug perched on top, and the fettuccini was thick and covered in a rich tomato sauce. However, I found the bug overcooked and the sauce was a little lacklustre, although the pasta itself was thick, soft and tasty.
My neighbour ordered the steak, which looked juicy, but she said it was a tad overdone. All in all, the food was a bit of a mixed bag at the Royal Hotel Nundah, but it was generally presented quite well.
The service was pretty competent on the whole. We did stagger our food, which made it easy for them, but there were no mistakes and the wait staff were friendly. As we were a larger table, the waitstaff had to shout out meals to us (which I had fun helping with after a couple of White Rabbits) as we were all engaged in conversation. However, everything seemed to sort itself out without any real hiccups. The bar staff were also attentive and appeared to be having fun doing their job.
A Bit of History
As I mentioned earlier, the Royal Hotel Nundah has been serving patrons since 1888, which is a pretty impressive feat in little ole Brisbane! It’s just had a makeover and unlike other Brisbane locals, I missed out on seeing this one in its well-worn glory.
The architect of the pub was allegedly George William Campbell Wilson, who had a shady past which involved bodging up the Brisbane Town Hall and later being declared insolvent. He did, however, design a number of other successful hotels throughout Brisbane.
The pub’s original design was apparently an example of Victorian Classical Revival architecture. However, the verandah and awnings owing to this style have since been removed.
The Royal Hotel Nundah definitely has a few good entertainment options on offer. These are:
Firstly, the makeover has set it up nicely as a sports bar and patrons can watch events such as rugby union, league and horse racing, along with many other major events on its large TVs.
The Royal Hotel Nundah has some excellent live entertainment options, such as Friday karaoke, a piano bar (which is open every Friday from 6pm), standup comedy on Thursday nights, open mic night every Wednesday (smartly on a quieter night) and trivia every Tuesday at 7pm.
The Royal Quarters is the pub’s live music venue upstairs, and on this visit I popped in briefly to see a band playing Interstate Love Song by Stone Temple Pilots, which influenced my choice of music for my video at the end of this post. I also saw a DJ (see below) bravely performing below the screen in the Sports Bar downstairs.
Specials and Events
On Mondays, kids eat lunch and dinner for Free! Tuesday nights are 200gm parmy nights for $20 (check out the parmys in my pic below – they look pretty good!). The Royal Hotel also hosts a Christmas buffet and a New Year’s Eve party in its Royal Quarters section with dress themes and a DJ.
As I’ve mentioned, about 15 of us came to the Royal Hotel Nundah last week and this was for my partner’s cousin’s birthday. She’s a Nundah local and obviously didn’t mind a return visit. I thought the staff handled us, along with several other large tables, quite well. I didn’t think the food was incredible and the makeover has this heritage pub looking like any other, but it’s a lively place with good entertainment options, cocktails and it has the White Rabbit Dark Ale on tap! I recommend a visit in all.
A Few Fast Facts
- The Royal Hotel Nundah is located on busy Sandate Road in Nundah, about a two-minute walk from Nundah train station.
- The hotel has parking but it’s limited, so get there early! Otherwise, there are spots on the street but just be patient.
- The Royal Hotel Nundah has wheelchair access at the entrance on Sandgate Road and from what I saw, the pub is spacious and flat to accommodate wheelchair travel. However, best check out the pub’s website for more info on this.
Vibe: lively and glossy.
Go for: the White Rabbit Dark Ale on Tap.