Established in 1865, The Botany Bay Hotel hasn’t seen much change. It has established itself as a reliable favourite among locals.

Bourke Street Group, the team behind The Lord Gladstone Hotel and Miss Peaches recently took over the pub, cleaning it up and moving the menu in a new direction.

The brief? “Provide good food for the people who live in the area, who want a classic pub where the basics are done right,” says the founder and managing director of Bourke Street, Paddy Coughlan.

For those who fear change, the hotel hasn’t had a complete overhaul. Just the kitchen and bistro have been revamped – the bones remain intact.

“The Botany Bay Hotel is a great pub. Until now we’ve been buying venues that need a lot of work, and we then do a complete overhaul. The bones of this place were great – and we wanted to retain features like the sandstone and timber, which are a nod to the heritage of the venue,” he says.

Heading up the new kitchen is Ernie Priestley, who has taken timeless pub classics and made them modern and exciting. Start with the soft-shell-fish tacos and the salt-and-pepper Hawkesbury squid. Move onto the eggplant and chicken parma, or the grass-and-grain-fed steak with sides. For dessert, go for the deep-fried Golden Gaytime.

True to form, Ernie Priestley (Marlborough Hotel, Lord Gladstone, Miss Peaches) has brought his famous burgers with him, including the house favourite, the Bay Burger. It’s a deluxe Aussie with the works: beef patty, bacon, cheese, onion rings, fried egg, beetroot, pineapple, lettuce, tomato and a dill pickle.

Coughlan has tried to restore community spirit by sponsoring local cricket and other sports teams; he plans to use the pub’s car park as a site for a burger festival, food-truck take overs and a smoked-meat festival.

And karaoke is here to stay. Coughlan has launched Botany Idol, a karaoke competition running over 12 weeks with a $5000 prize.

The Botany Bay Hotel
1807 Botany Road, Banksmeadow
(02) 9666 5333

Daily 11am–3pm, 5pm–9pm.