Bitter Suite @ New Farm

Bitter Suite wants to be “your local”, which is not a bad thing. There aren’t too many drinking holes in the area and tucked in the quieter street of Welsby amidst the lush leafiness, it already has a posse of regulars who chill out – beer in hand – at their exposed brick establishment.

So why has it taken us so long to stop by? Have I ever mentioned my super power is nursing ONE drink for 3-4 hours? No? Well, there you go. I’m a very cheap drunk. So visiting pubs is not a regular occurrence.

On this occasion, the weather was a touch miserable and I wasn’t feeling particularly up to the challenge of cooking dinner. So the SO dragged me down to Bitter Suite to check them out.

The atmosphere at this quaint craft beer joint is warm and friendly. Staff greeted us with open smiles, despite us having slinked in through their door with dripping umbrellas without reservation.

Had it not been for the rain, their outdoor seating would have been gorgeously relaxing and it’s not hard to see why Bitter Suite would be popular for punters on a weekend afternoon.

However, we were slightly chilled and opted to be seated indoors with a meal and drink menu each, as well as an events bulletin on a clipboard. Their drink menu is really extensive, but we were determined to try what was on tap.

At the time, there were six craft beers available on tap: each with a brief description, their origin, alcoholic content and their IBU (international bitterness units). All their craft beers on tap are available in half pints ($5 each), ¾ pints ($7 each) and full pint ($9 each).

I opted for the Kelly Brothers apple Cider, which comes from Victoria’s Yarra Valley and the SO went with Stone and Wood’s Pacific Ale from Byron Bay.

Crab risotto: spanner crab, prawns, fennel, leek and mascarpone. AUD$26

The SO was eager to try the crab risotto, but as a little disappointed by the portion. It looked so tiny and alone on the huge white plate. Nonetheless, the SO was pleased that the prawns, which topped the risotto was amazingly sweet. I sampled a prawn, but found the flesh unexpectedly limp. The risotto also tasted a little too strongly of fennel, but was otherwise tasty.

Beef & stout pie: stout braised shortrib pie, mash, crushed peas and mushroom jus. AUD$26

That my Beef & Stout pie was a deconstructed one came as a surprise. Like the crab risotto, I was also disappointed by the portion size, but found myself satisfactorily full by the time I finished it.

The chunks of beef stewed in carrots and potatoes were flavourful, though a touch dry. Nonetheless it yielded and fell apart at the fork. I also enjoyed the mashed peas – and I’m not ordinarily a huge fan of peas. I would’ve liked the gravy to have been thicker and ooze like a proper meat pie though.

The whole lot had a puff pastry topper, which when poked with my fork, fell to pieces into delicate flakes of butteriness. Pity it had such a huge air pocket and little other substance, cuz it was gorgeous.

We peeked at the meals on other tables, noting the salads were particularly small – possibly not much more than a generous handful. Perhaps if punters were not particularly hungry, this would be fine, but it would hardly serve as a filling meal without ordering a tapas or two to accompany it.

The tapas on the other hand, looked much more promising to accompany a couple of beers amongst friends.

Looking to avoid the ridiculously crowded joints in the Valley or West End, and gather with friends to catch up over a beer? Bitter Suite is a lovely spot to unwind with a pint, elbow room and great warm service. Just don’t expect proportionally sized meals for the price tag.

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