Have you ever been to Morpeth? If you have answered no I suggest you do something about this and turn it into a yes! Morpeth is gorgeous. It's historical , it has lovely cafes, shops and foodie haunts (you've heard of Morpeth Sourdough - haven't you?) It has beautiful old homes and it's at the gateway to the Hunter Valley - if Mr Munch would let me, I'd move there in a flash! It's actually because of Mr Munch that I love Morpeth - he first took me there for a wee getaway in our courting days and the love affair has continued ever since....both with Mr Munch and Morpeth.
It seems however that a lot of other people have a love affair with Morpeth too - especially on weekends. So when we were there recently (on a Saturday) so was every man and his dog - and I'm being literal here - people actually take their dogs shopping and to eat at outdoor cafes in Morpeth - this isn't Paris people! And by the way people in Paris have cute wee dogs - just like Paris Hilton - not big bloodhounds!
Sorry readers I'm having a real rant here - our little bulls had wandered off from us in the main street of Morpeth (we were too busy looking at the window of the Gourmet or Glutton cheese shop to notice them missing). So when we tried to make chase we were impeded by an amply sized couple and their equally enormous bloodhound. We asked them to move but they wouldn't, so there was nothing for it, I conjured up Sally Pearson's gold medal performance and leapt over said bloodhound and reached the little bulls just before they had a head on with a parking car.
Unfortunately I pulled a hammy en route so I announced it was time for lunch and I limped into the closest establishment which just happened to be a pub, namely the River Royal Inn.
This is your typical lovely old country pub - with an enormous beer garden out the back. In the beer garden there is a dated childrens play area that has been grafitied with chalk. There is loads of room for prams and your kids to run around with all the other kids that are having lunch there. So it's quite family friendly.
WARNING: - If you are going to this pub with kids DO NOT enter through the front door into the public bar. There are actually signs at the front of the pub that tell you this but we had entered via the back door (I grew up in the country so entering via the back door is like a sixth sense to me). So we hadn't seen the signs. When poor old Mr Munch went to the bar to order us lunch and drinks he was given a stern lecture by the Publican that children were not allowed in the bar (one of the little bulls had followed him in there). He was told that he was lucky that the police weren't in there today otherwise he and the publican would have been in trouble. This made us wonder how often the boys in blue are in the public bar of the River Royal Inn at Morpeth. Is Morpeth such a "goody two shoes" type of town that the police find the only way to raise revenue is to catch unsuspecting parents with children in the public bar?
The River Royal Inn has a limited kids menu and their servings are huge so if you are eating out with toddlers you only need to order one meal and let the kids share it:
Chicken Schnitzel OR Grilled Steak OR Battered FISH $10.00
All Kids Meals Are Served With Chips
We ordered the little bulls the chicken schnitzel which was big enough to satisfy an adult. The adults meals are a decent pub size too. I was feeling a bit vegetarian when we visited so I decided on the Vege Burger for $16.00:
Crispy Crumbed Home-made Vege Patty with Salad Greens, Tomato, Caramelised Onion and House-made Garlic Aioli on a Toasted Roll
Whenever I order a non vege burger I always give the obligatory slice of beetroot to Mr Munch. I hate tinned Beetroot. So I presumed from reading the above, that my Vege burger would not have beetroot on it. Oh how I was wrong. The "crispy crumbed home - made vege patty" was made entirely out of tinned beetroot!! What happened to lentils, falafel or chick peas chef?? Why beetroot? So I had a lovely roll with salad greens and aioli and Mr Munch had a lovely steak burger ($17) with a side of beetroot patty.
I'm not really sure what the inside of the pub looks like as I was too scared to venture inside after Mr Munch's run in with the Publican. However from looking at their website is looks rather nice. But I presume kids are not allowed in the inside dining area so it doesn't really matter. You would be in a spot of bother if you were flying solo with your kids - how would you order your meals and keep an eye on your kids at the same time? Luckily the loos are located on the outside of the pub near the beer garden or you'd be in a real spot of bother.
So dear parents next time you are on your way to the Hunter - take a detour into Morpeth. It really is lovely. There is a playground for the kids near the centre of town and also lovely picnic areas along the river. However if you need a refreshing ale and you have a passion for tinned beetroot then I recommend you drop in to the River Royal Inn - but please use the back door x
97 Swan Street Morpeth NSW 2321
02 4933 6202