You can’t live in Adelaide for long without hearing a whisper or two about the Leicester. This usually happens during boozy conversations amongst groups of people who, on hearing the name, tilt their necks backwards, clutch at their bellies and slowly exhale. This place is legendary for its formidable schnitzels. And beer. Schnitzels and beer. A lot of each. Together.
A skinny, pretty backstreet of affluent, inner-city Parkside isn’t really where you’d expect to find this rollicking, two-storey 1886 bluestone pub. But times change: labourers and shortages become lawyers and mortgages. It’s Balmain, it’s Fitzroy, it’s Parkside, it’s… it’s the vibe.
Inside, either head out the back to the table you reserved in the nursing-home-chic 1970s bistro (a spurious, yet vastly popular choice), or chance your arm for a seat in the old front bar.
This shadowy den has been decked out in a ‘Liars’ Bar’ theme: ‘Liar, liar, pants on fire’ is, in fact, inscribed in Latin above the bar. Otherwise, you’ve seen it all before (probably in the '90s): walls spangled with pre-Chaser satire trading on half-truths promulgated by Bill Clinton/Rupert Murdoch/Mel Gibson/Muammar Gaddafi. There’s a huge fake Mt Rushmore sculpture on one wall, featuring the faces of Hawke, Keating, Skase and Bond. Yeah, yeah, politicians tell porkies. We get it. It appeals to a certain type. We’re not it. But hey, there’s schnitzels and beer!
We order up a ‘Tiger Woods’ (Napoli sauce, chorizo and mozzarella) and a ‘Warne’ (avocado and mozzarella). When they arrive, both are gargantuan and glistening, with comical little side salads dwarfed by the sheer volume of meat. We chew our way in, and soon need some more beer to wash it down.
The Leicester’s ‘Beer Legend’ list is a tally of 85 selected drops, bottles of which are sequenced around the top of the bar. If you can get through one of each (ordering at least one every three months), you get your name etched on the big ‘Beer Legends’ board on the wall. But we only have room for a couple: these ain’t itty-bitty schnitties.
There’s also the usual pubby grab-bag of ribs, salt-and-pepper squid and burgers on the menu, but these receive scant attention. The Leicester is all about beer, beef and bragging rights. You’ll be full of it by the time you squeeze out the narrow front door.