A proper pub done right, but it’s much more than that, with a formidable collection of wine to complement the beer and burgers – there’s chargrilled local chook and braised lamb, too. In the tradition of the Exeter and Victory hotels, this is a classic in the making.
The regular’s tip
There are few finer places in the Hills to have a drink in summer than the Stanley’s beer garden.
The nuts & bolts
Opened 1853 (current ownership 2016)
Function spaces: 35 guests
Verdun’s Stanley Bridge Tavern, near Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, has a long history as a local watering hole. And stepping into the front bar today, you’d be forgiven for thinking not much has changed. But take a step further through to the large dining room and a statement piece modern bar bench is a dead giveaway that things have indeed changed.
The pub was bought by Adelaide Hills pub barons Ed Peter (Crafers Hotel) and Brett Mathews (Stirling Hotel), and they cut local hospitality lord Frank Hannan Tan (Amalfi and Mother Vine) and wine expert Pablo Theodoros (Mother Vine) into the business as operating partners. They cleverly resisted the temptation to renovate to a ubiquitous pub style that already existed nearby, instead settling into their stride by improving the offering as it stood before making any moves.
They opened up a large outdoor terrace behind the pub, and this quickly filled with visitors to the region on weekends, while the traditional customers of the front bar stayed loyal and remain there to this very day. That bar serves a great beer all year round, and the cosy fire in the winter months has been warming the locals for over 150 years.
The wine list now feeds from a new bottle shop that has allowed them to up the ante of what’s on offer throughout the pub. This includes a wide selection of Hills producers as well as the best further afield in Australia, while a decent amount of real estate is also devoted to the best of France and Italy.
Local winemaker’ s wares are stocked and sold through the pub to wine-savvy locals and visitors, while those very makers flock like moths to a lamp for the highlights of Burgundy and Barolo’s best producers. And with the food always in a very tasty fancy-pub-fare zone, it’s a great combination for a regional venue that’s still only a short drive from the city.