When trying to decide where to eat on a freezing cold Wednesday night, the biggest mistake you can make is let a 5-year-old make the decision. Pizza, sushi, hamburger….I would think this is all in Mr. 5’s wheelhouse…but the answer we received was, “Pie. I just want a pie!”
Apart from cafés and take-away shops I couldn’t really think of a restaurant or pub that serves pies. To make it harder still I didn’t really want to venture out any further than a 5km radius from my house (when your job requires you to wake up at 4am, sleep is VERY important). So a few Google searches for restaurants that serve pies, plus a short drive, and we end up at Finn MacCool’s at the Norwood Hotel.
On entering we are warmly welcomed by our server, Jessica, who takes us to a dining area that is set up like an outdoor Irish street. Fake Irish shopfronts show the kitchen area as well as all things Irish; musicians, sports teams and Guinness as well as big street lamps along a brightly coloured tiled floor. I don’t mind the ‘ye olde’ look but my wife, Beck, mentions that it has not changed in twenty-plus years when she used to go dancing at the Norwood Hotel next door. Jessica backs up the statement by mentioning that the place has not changed in ages.
We are seated near a heater and given our laminated menus and told to order at the counter. Jessica walks pass with two plates of food that some other people have ordered; one plate contains a Flintstone-sized T-bone steak that I later discover is a $10 special that they have 7 nights a week. The other plate is a huge serving of fish and chips. Asking Mr. 5 what he would like again he responds with, “Pie, pie, pie. I just want a pie!” Jessica mentions that with a $9 kids meal, such as fish and chips, the kids also get a free dessert. Ten minutes later, Mr. 5 is chowing down on his fish and chips…*sigh*
As much as I wanted a nice big, juicy steak, my attention is grabbed by a pub staple: chicken parmigiana ($20.90), and to wash it down I go for a Vale IPA. Beck chooses a seafood trio ($24.90, including tempura barramundi, salt & pepper squid & crumbed prawns), and to drink she goes for an Adelaide Hills Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc ($9.50). Whilst waiting for our order we walk around and look at the various Irish displays in the fake shop fronts as well as the bar. It is not that busy at this time so I end up chatting with some of the bar staff and servers who are extremely friendly and certainly up for a chat.
My chicken parmigiana is huge, almost the size of the plate and about one inch thick, placed on top of a mountain of chips and served with a nice little bowl of salad. The schnitzel gives a loud crackle as I cut through the perfectly cooked crust. You know the first three bites of any meal are usually the best and this schnitzel was no exception. It was
the fourth, fifth and sixth bites that posed more of the problem. This parmi was drenched in what seemed to be canned tomatoes; way too much for my liking. I scraped a lot of it off whilst chowing down on the well-cooked chips and lovely lightly dressed salad.
The beer was fantastic. A thicker yet hoppy type of beer (as most IPAs are), it had a lovely citrusy taste to it. Beck was happy with her seafood trio calling it, “a nice, solid pub meal”. And after asking her how the wine was the response I received was “it’s Shaw and Smith!”
“What’s that mean?” I asked, slightly confused.
“It means it’s good!”
My discussion with Mr .5 was shorter still.
“How’s the meal Mr. 5?”
A thumbs up was the only form of communication he gave. Mr. 5’s dessert was an extremely large portion of chocolate mousse served with cream. His rating for that was a thumbs up also.
My idea of eating out is sitting down, ordering, eating and getting out all in the space of one hour (much to my wife’s disgust). Finn MacCool’s was at about the one hour and fifteen mark. Excellent. Our meals were served promptly, the food was good without being great, but the service was absolutely fantastic. Jessica and the team were friendly, and seemed genuinely happy to have a chat with us, even when it started to get busy. This alone garnered an extra half a point in my score!
If you are looking for a solid pub meal, great beer and fantastic service I recommend you pop in to Finn MacCools. They even make three different types of pie!
Three and a half shamrocks out of five.
The Norwood Hotel
97 The Parade,
Norwood, SA, 5097
Reviewed By: Shane Berketa