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Royal English Hotel karaoke venue review on www.where2sing.com

REVIEW: Royal English Hotel


Nundah has been bypassed. Gone is the seedy little strip of shops covered with diesel soot, a nuisance narrow piece of road in the main trek north through Brisbane's suburbs - because the bypass now goes around it. And those seeking Nundah are pointed towards a turnoff that explains 'Nundah village'.

Parking spaces along the road abound, the traffic lights are almost empty, and the shops are now trendy little boutiques. And in the midst of all this is Nundah's 'Royal English Hotel'.

Some rundown suburban drinking holes go Irish or simply upmarket; this one has gone English. The name is English, the layout is English, the decoration and style is, well, no, not really English. But, hey, the name is English, and this is about as English a place as you're going to find in nouveau Austraya. So we'll take it as being an upmarket, high renovated and remodelled pseudo English pub.

The banner on the outside proclaims 'Nundah Idol 2' in huge letters - a total waste of time, as is known by anyone with any marketing skills whatsoever, or indeed anyone with half a degree of commonsense who might ask the question: 'So, what is Nundah Idol 2, and why do I care?' I go inside.

None of the beers looks very English, so I order XXXX Gold. It's not quite the 8pm starting time, but the karaoke is already in full swing. The crowd is youngish, quite mixed, and absolutely into the karaoke. The host's setup looks impressive, set up as it is at the far end of the bar, and occupying the corner and almost the entire end of the room.

Pushing through a door near my end of the bar, I go into a hallway and then into another large room which appears to be the restaurant. Indeed, I can see a long glass servery opposite, but when I go there it seems to be without any menus or obvious place in which to order. I ask the girl hovering at a small shelf, and she points me to the far end of the opposite bar which has a delicate sign indicating that this is the place for food orders, and which I'm sure I would have eventually discovered after a reasonable search of the room.

There is a menu, and the prices are those you'd expect of a venue trying to claw back a multi-million dollar renovation bill. On the other hand, the mature lady who immediately tells me 'yes please?' within seconds of my starting to read the menu gets a 'not yet, thanks' reply from me. At least she didn't ask 'are ya right there'. But as soon as she has served another customer, and therefore as soon as I have had a chance to chose a menu item, she's back for my order - and I award her marks for coming back to me. At $14 and pretty much the cheapest main meal on the menu, prime quality beef sausages with creamy mashed potato is my choice - experience tells me that a lack of training in counter staff is invariable matched by a lack of expertise in the kitchen, and there's really not much that anyone can get wrong with bangers and mash - whereas I'd need a greater degree of confidence before ordering a small steak which is starting at well over the twenty dollar mark.

Whilst I sit and await my meal, I am listening to the karaoke - for it is coming at just about the right volume from the other bar. Well, it starts at the right volume, but quiet singers are almost unheard, and loud ones are, well: 'Isn't it awful!' remarks my bar lady to a couple just leaving. 'oh, yes' replies the lady with a shudder, and they hurry out the door. Soon, another lady asks something of my bar lady: 'It's karaoke' she explains, in that tone designed to demean the entertainment. Exceptionally poor training
, and one I'd characterise in my own previous business as 'she's obviously working for the opposition'
. Did my bar lady suggest her customer go and sing and improve the quality? Did she mention that there's a fabulous $1000 prize awaiting someone in their Nundah Idol 2 competition? No, her opinion was that karaoke was bad, and she wanted her customers to know it.

But, actually, I was also gaining that opinion, not so much from the quality of the singing, but from the lack of balance between singer and backing music, but here I was in the restaurant and perhaps getting an incorrect impression. And, anyway, my food arrived. 'Enjoy' said the girl, and I thought I detected a note of hopeless expectation in her wishes.

I won't dwell on the meal that is served in an upmarket English hotel, other than to say that three rather average quality beef sausages that have been cooked long enough for the skins to resist the sharpness of the cutlery, and the mashed potato that was so filled with lumps that it fell in lumps off my fork and would have been blatently obvious to the person who spooned it onto the plate, along with a bit of gravy and a few strands of watercress, is not going to bring the discerning diner back. Note to the chef: You make mashed potato with a potato masher that ensures there are not large lumps, and you will need at actually add something like a little butter and a little milk if you're going to match the menu description of 'creamy.' Nah, don't worry about it - just don't waste your time eating here.

Back into the main bar, and the karaoke seemed much as I left it. Louder perhaps, or was that just this track? Yep, this track was loud, but the next track was quiet, and so the singer became extra loud. The host was learning on his console, looking bored.

Now there are people with faces that look permanently friendly and fun (I don't have one of those, but neither do . . .(full story on where2sing.com)

Read the rest of this exclusive Karaoke Gig Review, and find whether this karaoke gig is still running on Where2sing.com . . .

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