Review: The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, Orient Hotel (The Rocks)

Last Friday my sister and I went for an after-work catch-up to The Rocks. Because Lord Nelson beers are highly regarded in my book, I suggested going to the brewery hotel. We arrived around 5:40 and the place was packed, but we managed to score the small table that’s right between the kitchen and staircase doors.

We were hungry, so browsed the bar food menu and decided to order a pizza. Unfortunately, they don’t make food on Friday nights, which is not disclosed anywhere in the menu or in any other visible spot. The option I was given by the cheerful (not!) bar girl was a plate with some stuff to nibble on, enough to feed one or two, for $12. “Okay, give me one”.

While I browsed the menu to choose my drink, a nice British man sitting in the bar told me that they didn’t have two of the five (or so) options, and that they had been replaced by the ones announced in the blackboards. I got a pint of summer ale, went back to the table and told Gladys the news about the food.

Lord Nelson Brewery - Summer Ale

Summer ale

While she was off getting her beer, the plate arrived. It had slices of bread and cheese, three or four sliced pickled gherkins, four pickled onions, a pickled boiled egg cut in half, chutney and mustard. The bread was stale, the cheese was cheap, the pickles were average, the chutney was nice, we didn’t touch the mustard. But we were hungry (I was starving, actually) so we ate it all.

Lord Nelson Brewery - Nibbles plate

Food plate ($12)

Gladys finished her half-pint of summer ale and went to get another beer, this time she bought a half-pint of Old Admiral. We drank our beers and decided to go elsewhere since the good quality of the beers was somehow diminished by the lack of vibe of the place in general.

We walked the streets of The Rocks in the quest for a better place to hang out. As you may have guessed, that is almost impossible on a Friday night. Each pub was more crowded than the previous. Finally we arrived to the Orient Hotel, right next to the markets. Gladys had been there before and there were a few seats left, so we decided to stay.

We weren’t hungry anymore but we always crave food while having drinks. Burgers in the menu sounded good, so we ordered a beef burger with cheddar, bacon, red onion, beetroot, lettuce, tomato & fries. The range of beers on tap was not impressive but at least they had Resch’s and James Squire.

The burger didn’t took long to arrive but looked like it had spent a week on the burner. The bun had been toasted until the edges were burnt. The burger, that tiny round of minced beef that must have been half of the size of the bun, had a thick black crust in one of it sides. It wasn’t slightly charred, it was seriously burnt. The cheddar cheese must have been that whitish wet substance on the lower half of the bun that unfortunately I couldn’t taste with all that carbonisation going on. The bacon on top was ok, although I prefer it crunchier. Weirdly, the red onion, beetroot, lettuce, tomato weren’t in the burger, but on the side. I thought they could have put thicker or more slices of veggies if they were functioning as a side salad of sorts. The chips were mass-produced (i.e. not hand-cut) and therefore, nothing special. In summary, we felt ripped-off.

The Orient Hotel - Beef burger

The Orient Hotel - Beef burger

Beef burger ($14.50)

On the bright side, the vibe was much better than in The Lord Nelson Brewery. There was a guy playing the guitar and singing all the patrons’ favourites (not mine at all, but he had a good voice).

After we finished our beers we decided it was cocktail time. We asked for the cocktail list but they told us we had to go to the restaurant’s bar to get it. “Forget it”, we thought, and started wandering the streets again. Most of the bars were as packed as earlier, and the ones that weren’t were quite expensive. We ended up walking all the way to the GPO in Martin Place. Gladys had a creamy chocolate cocktail that didn’t live up to her expectations and I had another schooner of James Squire Amber Ale.

That night we decided to stick to the good old Newtown/Erskineville pubs to avoid further disappointment.

The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel
19 Kent St
The Rocks NSW 2000
(02) 9251 4044

Orient Hotel
69 George Street
The Rocks NSW 2000
(02) 9251 1255

10 thoughts on “Review: The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, Orient Hotel (The Rocks)

  1. The Lord Nelson is a total rip-off, although the beers are nice. I can’t believe they don’t serve food on Fridays! Crazy!

    I quite like the Hero of Waterloo and the Australian Youth Hostel up that way. Also if you’re a fan of the Lord Nelson you might like Hart’s Pub on Gloucester Street. It brews all its own beers and is a tad more upmarket.

    Unfortunately Friday night is pretty crowded in that area…

  2. In the rocks – for something around about average price – The Mercantile does some amazing traditional Irish food. (Excellent brekkie.) But the Philips Foot is pretty great as well.

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