Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Australia & the Pacific
Reload this Page >

Harry's Cafe de Wheels - Tourist trap or the real thing?

Harry's Cafe de Wheels - Tourist trap or the real thing?

Feb 28th, 2005, 08:00 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 833
Harry's Cafe de Wheels - Tourist trap or the real thing?

OK, I'll admit the last time I was there, I liked it. My friend who is from Sydney said it's good stuff. And sitting there by the water enjoying a pie with a few buds was a pleasure indeed.

However, I have nothing to compare to that meat pie, since it was my one and only. So Sydneysiders (or anyone who has been there), do you care to weigh in? Is there a better place in town to get a meat pie? Doing a search for meat pie on this forum turns up precious little!

I'm working up the courage to try a "pie floater" in Adelaide when I am there this summer. It's apparently something my born and bred Adelaide boyfriend describes as "feral."
crazymina is offline  
Feb 28th, 2005, 08:25 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
A few Buds? A few BUDS?? For shame, for shame - wash your mouth out, crazymina. Preferably with a James Squire ale, or at the least a Cooper's Sparkling Ale.

NB: Cooper's SA is brewed in the bottle and so has sediment in the bottom. I've seen people acually shake it up before drinking, but I wouldn't do that unless I had a constipation problem.

The Adelaide pie floater is one of the grimmer culinary exeriences I've seen (from a respectful distance, I should add). I would see trying one as roughly in the same league as feeling obliged to sample snake wine in Vietnam, or roast silkworms in China, but each to his own.

The Sydneysiders can advise on Harry's - I haven't been there for years.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Feb 28th, 2005, 08:58 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,904
Neil -

Maybe it the American in me, but I intrepreted "a few buds" as friends.
Hummm....

crazymina?
Melnq8 is online now  
Feb 28th, 2005, 10:27 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 833
LOLOLOL!!!

Yes, Melnq8 is correct...I did not mean BUDS as our american swill known as beer. I meant FRIENDS! I can see how you interpreted it that way. How funny though...it made me laugh out loud! At first I was thinking "What's wrong with eating a meat pie in the company of good friends?"

So, please let me rephrase that...

Sitting there by the water enjoying a pie with a few MATES was a pleasure indeed!!!

BTW, yes Neil, all of the folks I met in Adelaide turn it upside down or just roll it on the counter before drinking a Coopers. Since I buy it here in the states now, I follow the same ritual.

And you may have scared me for good...I may never try a pie floater...and I'm usually pretty brave.

crazymina is offline  
Feb 28th, 2005, 10:32 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
Jeez, I'm glad to have that clarified. Actually I'd rather drink Bud than Victoria Bitter, but that's damning with faint praise, isn't it? Anyway, a pie floater won't kill you.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Feb 28th, 2005, 10:43 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 833
Yes, Neil, I am sure it won't. But you know that phrase "That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger?" Well, I believe that "That which doesn't kill you makes you STRANGER."

I don't need to be more crazy than I already am.
crazymina is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 12:41 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,430
Hi, crazymina!

Nice to see your name on several threads at the moment.... so you're on your way to visit our shores again!

It could only happen in Australia, but would you believe that the pastrycooks actually have a yearly competition to see who has the best meat pies in Sydney. Judged on meat content, texture, juiciness, pastry, etc. Now, not being a great pie fancier myself, I can't remember which establishments won last year, but I do know that there's a shop in Penrith that proudly announces in its window that its pies were runner-up, and for several years prior also.

On the whole, however, I don't think I'd be travelling to Penrith for a meat pie (or, frankly, for anything else). All things considered, Harry's Cafe de Wheels is the best, because of the factors that are NOT judged in the competition. It's the whole experience that counts. The fact that you are standing where all those celebrities of the 1950s and 1960s stood (Sinatra ate a meat pie there, so I'll do it his way!). The smell of the water and the sound of the seagulls and the waves lapping against the pier. Dangling your feet over the edge of the wharf while you try to stop all the stuff Harry puts on top of his pies from winding up in your lap. Looking at all his photos of his famous clients. Best pies or not, Harry will do me, thank you!
Alan is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 01:28 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 833
Yes, Alan, I sure am. It's always nice to come back to this board and see you here. You have been such a wonderful and reliable source of info since I first started to read this board in 2000-2001. I hadn't been around too much for awhile, busy with work. But am very excited to go down to Oz again! So now I am doing some research and asking a few questions on subjects I can't find much on. Hence, meat pies!

Well, it's good to know your opinion on Harry's. I really did enjoy it, for all the reasons you said. I just felt like a kid, sitting there by that water eating a pie. I just wasn't sure it was a tourist trap or not...I remember reading some reviews that it was actually awful food. Having nothing to compare to, I was curious if the pie that I thought was pretty good was indeed "awful." But I guess the bottom line is that I liked it, and that's all that really matters.

Anyway, if this trip to Sydney goes well, it's very probable that Australia and Australians will be an important part of my life for the rest of my life!
crazymina is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 02:19 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,430
Crazymina:

Just for fun (or maybe it was because I was basking in the warm glow of your words) I did a google search on "Great Australian Meat Pie", without, however, turning up anything you's be interested in (it seems EVERYONE gets a runner-up prize, and some bakeries boast of winning upwards of forty awards. I did notice, however, that one of the judges a couple of years ago was someone named Michael Moore. I presume that means that, to win a prize, the pies must be cooked at exactly fahrenheit 911!
Alan is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 02:31 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 833
LOL Alan!

So I guess no one every wins the elusive "best" prize eh? Just a bunch of runner ups? Hmm. A mystery indeed!

Thanks for looking Alan.
crazymina is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 06:55 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,469
So...what is a pie floater, anyway?

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 07:16 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
Are you ready, for this, Lee Ann? I'm not sure I want to spoil your innocence, but you did ask. It's a meat pie floating in a sludge of pea soup with, I think, a glop of tomato sauce (ketchup) crowning the whole ghastly concoction. It's only suitable for people with strong stomachs and South Australians. I'm surprised that any self-respecting Sydney institution would have anything to do with it.

I'd be intere4sted to know if there's any particular cultural background to the pie floater. South Australia was settled as a 'free' (i.e. no convicts) colony and attracted a significant number of German Lutheran and Cornish immigrants - the former established the wine industry and the latter were I think attracted by a tin mining industry. The Cornish invented the pastie, another popular SA snack - maybe they're to blame.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2005, 10:04 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,469
>>It's a meat pie floating in a sludge of pea soup with, I think, a glop of tomato sauce (ketchup) crowning the whole ghastly concoction.<<

Well, that sounds...interesting.

If I ever visit Australia (and the Fodorites here have mostly convinced me I should) I know what to avoid.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2005, 10:08 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,904
Neil -

That's disgusting. Maybe a pie floater should be an eating challenge on Fear Factor!
Melnq8 is online now  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 12:35 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
Believe me, Lee Ann, we can do MUCH better gastronomically. Don't let the thought of a pie floater put you off a visit.

PS, I've just been informed by a Sydney-based relative that Harry's pie may rest on "mushy peas" rather than swim in soup. To me this is hair-splitting - it still sounds crook*.

* "Crook": ill, distasteful, as in the Sydney saying "I'm feeling as crook as Rookwood" to denote extreme sickness. (Rookwood is a very large cemetery in Sydney.)

Neil_Oz is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 03:26 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,469
>>Believe me, Lee Ann, we can do MUCH better gastronomically. Don't let the thought of a pie floater put you off a visit. <<

Actually, what has always put me off from wanting to visit Australia was my mental image of the country being one big desert - sort of like "Rabbit-Proof Fence" from coast to coast. I live in New Mexico, so I see all the desert I can stand every day.

Since I've been hanging out here, however, I see there is a lot more to Australia than I had imagined, and now I'm interested in visiting!

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 04:20 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 445
Dear Crazymina,

I love Harry's pies which are actually Hannah's pies baked in Pyrmont. They are a Sydney institution and whilst a lot of tourists eat there a hell of a lot of locals eat there too (particularly good late at night after a major pub crawl).

I like my pies with mashed potato rather than mashed peas. Nothing better than a meaty pie, piled high with creamy mash and a fork stuck in the top, trying to balance it on your knee with your feet dangling over the wharf.

Not a dieters delight, but a delight all the same.

Ahhhhh, I'm getting homesick.
Daneille is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 04:32 PM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 833
Danielle, I am getting more and more excited to get on the plane and start this trip. It's too bad it will only be a week or so, but I am sure we will eating a few pies.

I actually like the peas and mash together. Yum.
crazymina is offline  
Mar 4th, 2005, 06:07 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
Hi crazymina, I imagine you know that your old post regarding your trip to Ireland is again on one of the top spots on the Europe Board.

Oh, what a delightful trip report!!
Enjoyed every word you wrote.

Happy travels in OZ
LoveItaly is offline  
Mar 5th, 2005, 01:13 AM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 833
Thanks LoveItaly.

No, actually I didn't know at all. The report was written before registration here at fodors, so it doesn't come up when I click on my name (which is how I keep on top of any threads I posted on, and I visit this forum far more than the Europe one these days.) But I went to the Europe forum and saw it, and it was funny to see it up there again. It's a very old report!

But I am glad you enjoyed it!
crazymina is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:34 PM.