POLENTA chips defy logic, and you have to wonder why restaurants put them on the menu, though they make some sense soaking up alcohol at a boozer.
I was prepared to give them another go during lunch at the Federal Hotel, but the jury is now well and truly out — nothing can lift the blandness of the polenta chip ($10), or should I say plank.
Not even a good spicy sriracha aioli.
On a more positive note, the hotel has dropped the faux Irishness of Rosy O’Grady’s, returning to its late 1800s gold-rush roots.
The result is a modern version of a sports bar, but with lots more character and a personality of its own.
My mate and I went for the share plates, and first to arrive was the three cheese arancini ($12), which was great, with plenty of rich oomph and a crispbread crumb coating.
The fried squid tentacles ($14) were a mixed bag: the smaller sections crunchy and delicious, but the meatier bits were on the chewy side.
The star of the show was the local snapper spring rolls ($12).
A very generous size, they were packed with snapper, veggies, rice noodles, and sprouts.
Hot, crisp and crunchy, they were magnificent, especially when dipped in the chilli soy and lime sauce.
My mate was keen to try the panko rolled lamb shoulder ($13), which turned out to be golden balls of deliciousness.
They arrived sitting on a bed of mint pea and feta puree.
“They are good,” she said tucking in.
“Very tender and moist and the puree gives a really nice flavour balance to the rich and oily meat…which is why mint is the perfect foil for lamb.”
In hindsight we realised we’d ordered a lot of fried food, but that was mostly because of the limited number of vegetarian dishes on the main menu.
Apart from a pumpkin burger and a couple of salads, if you don’t eat red meat, or fish and chips, you’ll find yourself eating deep fried shares.
In true pub form the Fed, as it would like to be know locally, has daily $15 specials, and a two for one offer on Tuesday night.
by JENNY D’ANGER
The Federal Hotel
23 William Street, Fremantle
open 7 days