Almanac Pub Review: The Duke of York

It was the most Antarctic of days and the first song played was that most summery number, Paul Kelly’s “How to Make Gravy”. But this is no seasonal jingle, only tolerated on high rotation, for a brief window, before being shelved for another twelve months. It’s an exquisite, year-round Christmas narrative, and the guitarist in Adelaide’s Duke of York pub lends it his kind, engaging voice although he drifts occasionally into nasally Kath ‘n’ Kim suburbia.


As Billy Joel didn’t quite note, it’s a pretty quiet crowd for a Thursday, and a regular crowd hasn’t shuffled in. However, the bar bloke is charismatic and helpful, talking us through the drinks and food offerings in a way that’s more barbeque banter than sales pitch.


Accommodatingly, for those of us who remain numerically, if not monetarily bewildered, all main menu items are $12.90 (or 12.9 as modern minimalism has it) and this egalitarianism is excellent. My dining partner has the Angel Hair Pasta w Roast Pumpkin, Broccoli & Eggplant in an Argentinian Pesto.


While I find Eggplant, or indeed, eggplant, like a Morrison government cabinet member, entirely devoid of charisma and indigestible, it’s met with approval although the pesto, while inspired by Buenos Aires, is more rumour than admissible evidence.


There are countless culinary crimes in our cosy first world lives, but burying chips beneath a schnitzel, like a careless mobster in a shallow grave, is inexcusable. I’m happy to be a vigilante and even a mercenary, but should not have to rescue my own fried potato chunks. Won’t somebody think of the chips?


In the Duke’s defence (the pub, not John Wayne) tonight this is a minor offence and my meal is otherwise terrific. In the happy manner of a mum serving at a country footy canteen the bar keep even asks me if I’d like some gravy to accompany my chips. This alone guarantees the sentence is only a good behaviour bond.


As we dine and the rain lashes the city we note on the wall a patchwork print of a bespectacled cat. This, of course, is fiction and nonsense, for cats are entirely self-absorbed and take no interest in others or the world, and so have no need for improved vision. I say this in full knowledge of August 8 being International Cat Day, and August 7 being International Cats Eating Bananas Day. Only last week one of the boys said he’d like a cat for Christmas. I was planning to do a turkey, but if it keeps ‘em happy…


With a nirvana of happy hours spread across the week, the Duke is eager to placate here too. Some ridicule Carlsberg for being European VB, but I fancy a glass of it when opportunity arrives. So I do, and a tenner for an imperial pint (as opposed to our decidedly un-regal standard pint) is crisp value, while Claire selects a red wine and finds it generous and warming (personally, if not globally).


The guitarist (is it illegal for those playing inner-city pubs to not sport a beanie?) moves onto English wunderkind George Ezra and his catchy toon, “Budapest” and it’s a cordial track for a bleak night. He then tackles Paul Kelly’s omnipresent, “To Her Door” which, according to the lyricist, could very well star the protagonist from, “How to Make Gravy.”


I love some early August intertextuality, as we nod our thanks to the strumming soul and head to the Festival Theatre for the Book of Mormon, and critiques of cultural colonialism and healthy doses of hysterical dysentery.


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Mickey Randall

Now whip it into shape/ Shape it up, get straight/ Go forward, move ahead/ Try to detect it, it's not too late/ To whip it, whip it good


  1. roger lowrey says

    Strewth Mickey. $12.90? Them’s Kapunda prices!

  2. Manny Koufalakis says

    I catch up with fellow retirees and some who are still working at the Duke for lunch each month.
    I always make a perfunctory check of the menu but for some reason always go for the Chicken Parmy
    Certainly cant complain about the price of food and with Coopers on tap what more could you want.

  3. Roger- it’s great value, but positively Manhattan and Michelin star next to The Holdfast down at Glenelg which offers two schnitzels and a jug of beer for $25 on a Friday. Remarkable!

    Manny- that sounds like an excellent routine you’ve established there. I’m really liking the one price for all main courses model.

    Thanks for that.

  4. Dave Brown says

    Some good lines in there Mickey. Given its proximity I don’t go to the Duke of York with sufficient frequency (reckon last time I went there I shared a couple of farcically cloudy end of keg Coopers Sparklings with Matt Zurbo). Anything that unnecessarily makes a chip goes soggy should be subject to capital, or at the very least corporal, punishment.

  5. Dave- many I know would happily forgo expensive and exotic drinks for the exquisite dregs of Sparkling Ale kegs. In the beer raffle of life you and Matt Zurbo won.

    It’s not a pub I’d been to often, but would now return.

    Much in this life confuses me, chiefly the obsession with death by schnitzel for our poor downtrodden chips as undertaken by too many pubs.

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    I’ve never heard “How to Make Gravy” described better. Or Eggplant. Or eggplant.

  7. Unfortunately, I can hear our PM saying, “How good is eggplant?” But, as is often the case, I fail entirely to share his viewpoint, and grinning enthusiasm.

    Thanks Luke. That Adelaide trip must be getting close!

  8. Wonderful review, Mickey. I have now marked the Duke of York in my “must visits’ on my next Adelaide trip.

    I, too, am a great believer that no slab of chicken (or anything else, for that matter) should be placed on ships, whether the purpose is to artificially enlarge the size of said chicken, or not.

  9. I’m starting a campaign to stop chip trauma Smokie- #putoutyourchips. Given you’re in Ireland you could gather some traditional support.

    Enjoy your travels. Would love to read of them.

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