This is your typical Saturday afternoon watering hole. The beer is good and the food is your average pub food you would find at any local pub. Located on the corner of Russell Street and Little Collins Street, there is quite a bit of competition in the area to keep them on their toes.
To some, including myself the concept of the restaurant/pub is a bit confusing at first. The signage out front shows the Portland Hotel and James Squire, however both offer the same menu and kitchen. My only guess would be that the Portland Hotel is more for families and James Squire is more your brew house for the more laid back crowd looking to watch the game.
Off to the left you will find a small distillery where beer is currently being brewed. It’s a great little feature for those looking for a great pub feel with something a bit authentic. The decor is simple pub-flare showcasing a large wooden bar, TV’s to watch the game and comfy couches in the back area to relax. The walls are filled with James Squire history which makes for a fun read while enjoying your beer.
We went with the ‘Sea Salt & 4 Pepper Calamari’ which was served with large crisp chips. Presentation was decent, however you can’t expect much from a pub. At $23, I was hoping for a bit more Calamari as the plate was filled with chips.
I went with the Portland Club Sandwich, which I probably wouldn’t recommend. The chicken was extremely dry to the point I had to drink water after every bit. The bread was way too thick for the sandwich and ended up pulling the whole thing apart as it was impossible to eat. Best part of the dish were the chips, they were thick, crispy and seasoned well.
Service is your typical pub type, where orders are taken at the bar, and the only interaction you have with the waiter is when your food is brought to the table. The bar staff are knowledgeable with their beers and enjoy conversing with guests seated at the bar.
If you’re looking for a place to watch a game or enjoy a beer and pub food, James Squire is a decent place. The restaurant is large and can fit a generous amount of people without feeling over crowded. Service is friendly and location is perfect if you’re in the city and looking for somewhere quick to drop in.