Parmi or parma, burger with the lot or cheeseburger, rare or well done?
We all have our preferences when it comes to pub grub and the Illawarra has many battlegrounds on which these wars are fought.
From lakeside venues to beachfront boozers, historic hotels in the escarpment to flash brew-pubs with the latest craft beers, we're spoilt for choice.
This October, the Australian Hotels Association threw down the gauntlet, nominating a bevvy of Illawarra institutions as some of the finest in the state.
While none of our locals are in the people's choice category, a few are in the title that really matters: best parmi, best steak sandwich and best burger.
So, loyal readers, cast your votes and hash it out in the comments below, we'll see you at the bistro.
There are two storied contenders for the ultimate pub meal. The Warilla Hotel drops a classic of the genre, a large chicken breast flattened and crumbed, topped with sauce and cheese and popped under the grill for the crispy, oozey goodness. Plated up with chips and salad, this is a strong opponent.
Over at Shell Cove, Waterfront Tavern has taken the humble parmi and elevated it. The classic is still an option but angling in alongside is, the Godfather, Greco-Roman and Oscar. Coming in with pepperoni, cabanossi, as well as ham, the Godfather is a force to be reckoned with. Something different? Sure. Mouth watering and delicious? You bet.
In this head to head match up, we have a returning heavyweight in the Waterfront Tavern. Their footlong steak sandwich is a beast by any measure, requiring two hands and four incisors to grapple with the hefty offering. You may have walked in with a linen shirt as white as the boats bobbing in the marina, but after you leave, it'll be anything but.
Down by Lake Illawarra, we have our only Wollongong-LGA entrant, but Shellharbour's larger neighbour hasn't forgotten about Windang with a formidable steak sandwich. Starting with Angus beef, the sanga packs it in with tomato, pickled beetroot, onion jam aioli and rocket, as well as a side of chips.
So what will it be, rare or well done?
It seems every second store has its own take on the burger, but these are two examples that stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Going for the less is more approach, the recently renovated Lakeview Hotel Motel in Oak Flats has dished up a simple burger formula, but one where the elements shine, rather than being covered up in sauce or cheese. As a wise man once said, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The Plough & Ale in Calderwood has come to this bout with a simple contention - when it comes to burgers, not all are served equal. Whether you choose the boss or their signature chicken burger, the toasted buns crumble at bite and the meat is complemented by pickles and crisp iceberg lettuce.
So, who takes out the title? Or are you letting your chompers do the talking and too busy licking your fingers to vote either way - that's alright, we get it.
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