Scone is a dry and dusty country town with a short main drag that offers more than a few country pub choices. The Thoroughbred has had a fresh lick of paint on the outside, but the walls themselves date back more than a hundred years to when it was once the Empire Hotel.
If you walk inside however, you could be in Paddington - the interiors are more Country Road than country pub. The answer for why is in the hotel's new name, and festooned on nearly every wall: Scone is horse racing country, and home to many prestigious horse studs. There’s money in them there hills, and it certainly shows in The Thoroughbred.
With white plaster walls give way to tastefully exposed brick in the modestly proportioned front bar. The few flat-screen televisions are, unsurprisingly, set quietly to horse racing.
Rather than the bar, the room’s centrepiece is a marble-fronted bakery – the first I’ve ever seen located inside a pub.
The moodier restaurant is lined with glossy black tiles and furnished with modern curvaceous chairs in alternating colours - black and yellow.
A collection of Edison bulbs hangs overhead, each housed in a different glass balloon. They let off a soft, golden light.
The menu reads like a steakhouse, with Black Angus beef taking pride of place, both in steaks and burger patties. The Spicy Stallion ($20) teams a cayenne-spiced patty with melted Cheddar, jalapeños, spiced onion relish, bacon, rocket and chimmichurri into a very honest burger that has some real heat. It’s served – predictably enough – on a wooden board, as are all of our meals.
I bite down my feelings about wooden boards not being washed properly in dishwashers and get stuck into my Buffalo Wings ($12/6). They’re doused in Carolina-style tangy hot sauce that speaks of chilli heat and vinegar in equal measure. Slathered in thick blue cheese sauce made on a pungent (rather than insipid) blue cheese, and punctuated with celery sticks, they’re a notch above standard pub fare.
With Stone & Wood Pacific Ale ($8/Schooner) on tap, and employed by the kitchen in the batter for their fish, it’s impossible to pass over the Wild Caught Tropical Snapper Fillets ($27). Both it, and the aforementioned burger, come with chunky cut steak chips. The board is rounded out with a cheeky little apple ‘slaw and house-made tartare, and suits an easy drinking blend of Hendricks Gin and Lemon Squash ($10).
This wasn't quite the modest country pub fare I was expecting.
222 Kelly Street, Scone
Ph: (02) 6545 3669