Have you experienced the new George IV Hotel Picton? New? The brilliantly conceived modern hotel has old bones, very old bones. Parts of the rambling venue date back to 1835. The resurrection is now almost complete and I love it. It’s a pub to hang out way after your meal and just enjoy the vibe.
Starting with a severely damaged heritage listed hotel provided pros and cons for the buyers Adam and Ross. Done well, the history guarantees character and a point of difference. The downside is that every aspect of doing a heritage restoration really well, costs lots of money. “At every turn the decision was cheap or properly,” Ross told me when I visited the pub during winter. The fact that they chose properly every time is on show for all to see.
I hadn’t been out to The George since the front bars were completed, so the changes were a real treat for me. The large, purpose built kitchen is pumping out quality meals to a dining room full of character and style. The back bar is maybe my favourite in the whole district. With an amazing array of craft beers and ciders under an incredible solid timber structure and plenty of seating along the length of the deck, it’s a beauty!
As we talked, Ross got us a Lord Nelson, Three Sheets Pale Ale and we enjoyed the winter sun on the back deck. We ordered our meals. Ross talked up the chunky steak pie from the specials menu, and good to his word, that’s what he ordered. I chose the King Prawn Linguine from the Chef’s Suggestions on the menu. “We change the menu seasonally,” Ross said. “Not completely, but we tweak it to suit the seasonal produce, and the weather of course.”
I cannot overstate the ‘feel’ of this back bar and its deck. I had one of those ‘we could be anywhere’ feelings, that are becoming more and more common around are district. With Camden Valley Inn and the Horse and Jockey Inn at Menangle about to return to the hospitality landscape, we will be spoilt for choice. But Ross sees that as a positive. “The more quality options available, the more locals and visitors will want to get out around Macarthur and indulge more often.” Over twenty years of creating this magazine, I know this to be true. “For us, it just means that we can never relax. We need to keep The George fresh and exciting.”
Ross and Adam’s story is an unusual recipe for success. Neither had direct experience in hotels. They had been in business together and shared passion for pubs and dining. Their business management skills combined with said passion, have created an excellent result so far, and there is more to come. A huge function facility will be created within the historic barn at the rear of the hotel. “It’s a massive job,” Ross said. “We will have to create a structure within the existing building before we take the roof off, then the same stone mason that has worked on the rest of the hotel will get to work.” As I said earlier, heritage buildings bring pros and cons.
The smaller front bar and the sports bar are set for reconfiguration too. “We have had time to observe how the pub is being used and now we can fine tune things a little,” Ross said. More dining capacity will take up the under-utilised bar spaces.
At the moment there is a fenced kids area next to the back bar deck, but this space will soon have play equipment to keep the kids entertained while you relax with lunch. “Parking is another issue,” Ross admitted. “But thankfully we have that sorted too.”
I will be returning with some mates to spend a Sunday arvo on the back deck. I love it. Character and atmosphere are the hardest ingredients in hospitality, The George has them in bucket loads.
– David Everrett, InMacarthur Guide