I stepped into Marquis of Lorne and the word that came immediately to mind was ‘lair’.
The tri-level street corner boozer just has an insouciant air of 70s rock and roll about it. It might have been the Rolling Stones covers that the pub band was playing on a Sunday afternoon, maybe the luxurious Sergeant Pepper moustache sported by our skinny-hipped waiter or the bizarre grotto rock cut-out in the dining room. Certainly the vinyl dining chairs and squishy brown couches housed in the sun-filled loft area (leading to a narrow roof terrace) are a throwback to that era.
The menu fortunately is not from the 70s. Pub classics such as chicken parma and fish and chips do feature, alongside more modern fare like soft-shelled crab and arancini. The menu covers bar snacks, generous-sized mains right through to comfort-food desserts.
We decided to try both the parma ($19) and the beer-battered blue grenadier, salad and chips ($19) as they seemed like a good benchmark for judging the quality of the kitchen’s pub grub. RM went a little more adventurous with pork loin wrapped in prosciutto, pumpkin cake and roasted pear ($25).
The chicken parma was rated highly as the chicken breast had not been overcooked, it had been wrapped in prosciutto and there was a good balance in the rest of toppings – not too cheesy, not too tomato-ey. Tick.
The batter on my fish was suitably crisp and light with no visible pool of oil, the huge mound of fat chips were all fluffy on the inside and I was impressed by the good quality tartare sauce. Another tick.
The pork loin was a strange beast. As you can see, it comprised three knobs of pork and some very sweet pears – and when they said ‘cake’ they really did mean an actual slice of cake, complete with crunchy walnuts. The kind of thing I’d expect to be served with a side of ice cream. Anyway, the pork was juicy enough but with the prosciutto the flavour balance was tipped a little too much on the salty side. While I could understand the need to cut through the saltiness with a contrasting flavour, the other super-sweet accompaniments frankly made the whole plate a little bit too weird for my taste.
Early on a Sunday night we were the only diners but we didn’t feel like our conversation was reverberating around an empty cavernous space. The service was friendly and the whole ambience of the pub is relaxed. It’s the kind of place that you can imagine spending a good couple of hours on a weekend with some mates.