John Parker, owner of The Royal Hotel, describes the pub’s smart-casual wine bar Willi’s as a shrine to the vine.
That means a selection of more than 75 wines – roughly one-third white, one-third red, and one-third sparkling, orange, rosé and chilled reds. It sits somewhere between an old-world-meets-new world selection, and the fun pub classics you’ll find upstairs at the Royal Hotel’s public bar. The mark-ups are reasonable, local winemakers are well represented, and the drinkability factor is high across the list.
In addition to the wines, Willi’s has a strong line-up of aromatised alcohols, including vermouths and European liqueurs. These can be enjoyed neat, in recommended serves – with blood orange soda, for instance – or as part of a cocktail.
The other major draw at Willi’s is the food – a tight edit of snacky, wine-friendly dishes (think deli meats, olives and oysters), more considered snacks, and larger plates designed to share – overseen by journeyman chef Ricky Lim.
The menu features subtle, rose-tinted references to the Australian corner pub ideal: steak sandwiches made with prime rib, mustard cream and pickled iceberg lettuce; mini pikelets freight kangaroo pastrami; as well as a help-yourself condiment selection including a lemon myrtle and Geraldton wax vinegar. Changing roast specials, which might include roast pork belly and lamb shoulder, are listed on the day’s blackboard menu.
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