Get a feel for the Fremantle of yesteryear by visiting the city’s historic pubs housed in colonial heritage buildings dating back to the gold rush years and settle in for a hearty pub meal.
The Federal Hotel, formerly Rosie O’Grady’s, has been refurbished into a modern, stylish gastropub hotel with subtle furnishings reminiscent of its past. Opened in the same year as the Fremantle Town Hall in 1887, it was once touted as one of the most beautiful buildings of the colony–and it’s not difficult to see why.
The menu fuses Asian influences with traditional Australian pub fare; here you’ll find the likes of West Australian scotch fillet alongside sticky five-spice pork belly. The drinks list celebrates Australian classics as well as international favourites, and there are guest tap beers on frequent rotation. The Federal Hotel is charming, quaint and you’ll instantly feel right at home.
Taking up a commanding position on the corner of High Street and Market Street is the National Hotel, a grand four-storey heritage building complete with an outdoor verandah and wraparound balcony where you can sit and indulge in an afternoon of people-watching. Depending on what mood you’re in, the ground floor is a remnant of your classic pub while the first floor offers more sophisticated dining.
The National Hotel serves up quality gourmet pub grub using seasonal ingredients, and the extensive drinks menu has more than 30 draught beers on tap and an increasing craft beer list.
Overlooking Esplanade Reserve, the Ball & Chain is a charming corner-pub. The name pays homage to the fact that it once housed the first convicts to arrive in Fremantle! The heritage–listed all–white building with its intimate alfresco area oozes colonial sophistication, while inside, modern timber panels mix with steel furniture and warm copper touches.
The adjoining whisky room–or Bourbon Street–conjures up images of dapper gentlemen smoking cigars with its plush leather chairs and floor-to-ceiling shelves showcasing bottles of quality whiskies from around the world. A contemporary food menu serves dishes such as crispy southern spiced fried chicken and flame grilled kebabs.
For a more casual day at the pub, saunter over to the Bar Orient Hotel, which has a decidedly more laidback atmosphere with its pool tables and large screens for watching sports scattered throughout the venue. The kitchen dishes up traditional pub favourites with a modern twist and also delivers special meal deals such as your token parma nights on Wednesdays.
The Sail and Anchor, located next to the Fremantle Markets, is a local institution and the place to grab a craft beer on tap with a regularly changing selection that will be sure to impress the beer aficionados. Tasting paddles are available for those who want to try a bit of everything. The garden bistro out the back serves up pub grub and tapas offerings in lush surroundings. Make sure to head up the spiralling staircase to take a prime position on the balcony overlooking South Terrace (Cappuccino Strip) and the Fremantle Markets.
Further down the terrace, the Newport Hotel offers a unique interpretation of the traditional pub and walking through it is akin to going down a rabbit’s warren: you won’t know what to expect. The oasis-looking galley serves up an American-inspired menu of ribs and burgers. Wander down the lengthy corridor and you’ll inadvertently stumble upon a Polynesian tiki beat bar and several entertainment spaces. The journey continues upstairs with various nooks and crannies where you can belt out karaoke, listen to DJs and perhaps just watch the action unfolding below with a glass of Newport Spiced Rum in hand. Good luck finding your way out!
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