Almanac Pub Review: The Exeter, Semaphore


Photo courtesy of the Exeter Hotel.



While it would be an exaggeration to say it’s a hot August night it’s at least a delightfully mild August evening in Semaphore when I pull into the Exeter’s carpark.


Inside I gaze about and think it’s a pub that straddles the fuzzy line between olden working men’s boozer and a more inclusive family venue. Maybe it’s both, or neither.


I’m early and in this situation would usually take a wander about the salad bar and form a plan of attack. Potato salad? Possibly. Coleslaw? Nup, not enough carrot and too much cabbage. Pea and corn? Arrh, now here’s a treat. Takes me back to the Kimba Cricket Club barbecues after training on Thursdays when there’d be seven blue ice-cream containers, each complete with a tin of peas and a tin of corn, lovingly upended and combined by seven bachelors as they rushed (or not) to the town nets by the oval.


But, of course, the pandemic means salad bars are barred, possibly even at country cricket clubs.


I have a Session Ale and Claire settles upon a house red. It comes from a large, stainless steel dispenser that could’ve once smothered sticky-fingered and faced toddlers with soft-serve ice-cream in a Pizza Hut. The bar staff member simply pushes a button and deep red plonk eases into Claire’s glass! Sadly, the spectacle outstrips the shiraz, but still, it was a diverting eight seconds.


Subconsciously designating tonight a Neil Diamond tribute I think about the Greek Theatre and so order the seafood duo which comes with calamari, so beloved on Santorini if not in Croydon.


Claire decides upon the pie, mash and peas, noting that pies are notoriously difficult to destroy. And, of course, she’s right. Serve up a steak and everybody’s got a view. Too tough! Too stringy! Should only be eaten medium-rare. Take the same meat and stick it under comforting cloak of pastry and there’s only happy, munching silence.


We eat on the lower floor not far from the indoor playground which has attracted running, boisterous kids. That’s the problem with having an indoor playground in a pub: the kids treat it like an indoor playground. I know. My boys bloodied themselves here a few years’ ago.


The upper floor has sport on screens everywhere, but there’s only one near us and it’s showing an A-League final. Remember back in April when sport across the entire planet stopped apart from the Belarus Premier League? Now, to my shame I couldn’t tell you how Torpedo Zhodino FC is travelling.


Claire’s pie is a treat and my seafood duo is excellent. My salad comes with cherry tomatoes. Sometimes these can be a watery disappointment, like a Backstreet Boys song, but mine are zesty little bombs.


Pubs around the land are showing the Horn v Tszyu fight from Townsville, but I head home to watch Micallef with the childish hope that Darius Horsham will call the host an, “economic girlie-man.”



Read more from Mickey Randall HERE



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About Mickey Randall

The Sportswriter, Revolver, Lebowski. Met the girl when we were thirteen. Married her last year.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Disappointed that you couldn’t give me an update on the schnitz sitz.

    Imagine the sort of lowlifes that would have a wedding reception there.

  2. On our mid-week pub excursions I’ve settled into a late winter order-the-fish routine and have generally avoided the schnitzel options. Enjoyed revisiting the homecoming tour you and Mrs.S made back in 2015. As we’ve covered most of the Le Fevre dining possibilities we might change destinations and head to the North Adelaide/ Prospect hub. The Windmill might open the batting.

  3. The Avenging Eagle sympathises with your Claire. Both stuck with a diverting 8 seconds. 30 on a good night.

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Love the (accurate) cherry tomato description. I wish the Roma’s in my garden would produce as prolifically as the cherries do.

    Darius, Shaun and the team are in rare form right now. You made the right viewing call.

  5. PB- 8 seconds required for rodeo riders to score too. Coincidence? Or cheap metaphor on a Monday morning?

    Luke- my oldest Alex and I especially enjoy the nature documentary promos, and loved the recent one- Hillbilly Fish of the Mariana Trench.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  6. roger lowrey says


    As you pointed out in response to a column of mine a few months ago, you may well be jealous about how the likes of Peter B, myself and other Victorians can catch trains around the State although of course there are severe restrictions on all that at the moment.

    However right here right now, I am insanely jealous that you are able to visit a pub at all let alone one with what seems from your review to have half decent food.

    Yes, at the first sign of it becoming a permissible activity again, I shall join the charge and probably trip over other like minded souls in our rush as we make a bee line for not only the royal and ancient Petrel, but also, other much loved Geelong pubs such as the Saleyards, the Valley Inn, the Cremorne, the Commun Na Feinne, the West End and many others. And yes Smokie, I can highly recommend all these next time you are down this way.

    In the meantime keep the reviews coming mate. They give me a reassuring sense along the lines of “yes Virginia, the Geelong pubs really will open again one day!”


  7. This is a particularly egregious psychological attack, perpetrated by a merciless fiend, on all Victorian barflies when we’re at our lowest ebb. I was very nearly electrocuted by a string of drool connecting my head to my keyboard.
    It’s this sort of Croweater agitprop that makes me want to spurn the Federation and become a secessionist.
    Not enough carrot in the coleslaw!! Jesus Christ. We’re at home drinking with our wives over here, Mickey.
    “Look away, look away, look away, Danny Land.”

  8. RDL and ajc- ever acting in the national interest I’m having one schnitzel for mum, one schnitzel for dad and one schnitzel for the country.

  9. I think your (sic) a zesty bomb. X

  10. Well played Mickey as usual the 8 seconds line gets the 3 votes

  11. Someone- you’re grate. X

    Rulebook- thanks for that. Nice battle shaping up between Glenelg and Norwood for fourth spot!

  12. I was thinking along similar lines to ajc.
    Not being able to go to the pub is killing me slowly.

    Most enjoyable nonetheless, Mickey.

  13. I constantly wrestle with the dilemma of going to and writing about my pub visits but then I contemplate the beacon-like lyrics of those modern day philosophers, The Cosmic Psychos, who sweetly sang

    Nice day to have some beetroot
    Have some beetroot
    Have some beetroot.

    I think the song’s named Nice Day to Go to the Pub.

    Thanks Smokie.

  14. Kevin Densley says

    Fun piece, Mickey, with a good feel to it.

  15. Thanks Kevin. I know you’ve local connections and we’ll continue to explore the area although some pubs aren’t offering a full menu, just that most vague of dishes, “bar snacks.”

    In coming weeks we might have to drive north, deep into the peninsula, like Colonel Kurtz.

  16. Daryl Schramm says

    Keep ’em coming Mickey. Very droll PB. No seconds to record here! We ventured out Mon night to catch up with son and daughter in law, son managing to book the last available table for 4. With high stools. The old Gepps X is now a Coopers Alehouse. Yes it was humbling to be able to do this while others elsewhere cannot. And, I chose the beef schnitty with garlic prawns on the side.

  17. Thanks Daryl. I’m pleased that having been shut for a few years the Gepps X reopened after a hefty investment. It’s certainly quite the radical transformation although when I called in a while ago it was about 5pm and empty so I didn’t see it a full flight. Schnitty and prawns! That’s a good night out.

    Like you I’m mindful of our rare opportunity.

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