Media Release: 19 September 2023

Erskineville’s much-loved local, The Erko, launches its new pub menu this Thursday 12 October with former Chiswick chef Ethan Robinson at the helm. The approachable menu includes many pub-friendly favourites with a solid focus on making as much as possible in-house using locally sourced seasonal produce, including from the neighbouring community garden.

Head chef Ethan Robinson says the menu is about fresh, honest cooking in a casual, local pub setting: “We’re making our own bread, hand cutting the chips, crumbing the chickens, fermenting and pickling in-house using surplus, blemished and oddly shaped produce, using herbs and veggies sourced locally, and composting our kitchen waste. We have a little patch at the Erko Road Community Garden next door where we’re growing herbs, native greens, chillies, cherry tomatoes, garlic chives, carrots, and Jerusalem artichokes. We’re also using local honey and have locally made hot sauces too.”

Inspired by Chiswick’s famed lamb shoulder, Robinson is serving a NSW lamb rump that’s slow-roasted, served on a bed of braised lentils, and topped with a green pea and mint pesto sauce. Other highlights include grilled Clarence River baby octopus with chickpeas, ox heart tomatoes, grilled peppers, and house-made vinaigrette; a roast chicken salad; salt-baked beets with radicchio and zesty oranges; and a daily seafood market catch – typically lesser-known, wild-caught fish like silver bream - served with a refreshing fennel and apple slaw, buttered baby potatoes, and house-made tartare.

Familiar pub favourites include a beef burger stacked with ground chuck patty, cheddar cheese, bacon, house-made onion and dark ale jam, dill pickle; as well as a 250g grass-fed striploin steak with chimmi butter. Both are served with a side of thick, house cut twice-cooked chips seasoned with Robinson’s own vinegar salt recipe. Of course, there’s a schnitzel, but Robinson’s take is a juicy chicken thigh, pounded and crumbed in-house with herbs from the local community garden, topped with shaved parmesan and a squeeze of lemon. It’s served with cos lettuce and local herb salad as well as buttery baby new potatoes.

“It was really important to keep those pub values, so the menu is very approachable and value for money,” explains Robinson. “You can still just pop in for a burger or schnitty - but they’ll taste so much better here.”

A tight selection of desserts includes The Pav topped with ‘ugly fruit’ – surplus, blemished and oddly shaped fruit rejected from the market – and a dark chocolate hazelnut cake with marinated orange and whipped ricotta. You’ll also see a kid’s menu, $2 oysters on a Sunday, and a generous feed-me-style $55 per person group dining menu.

Elliot Solomon, Solotel CEO says the new menu was designed for the changing local community who still love the casual vibe of a pub but want delicious, wholesome, real food. “We’ve operated the Erko since 2014 and over that time have seen the local area evolve so much. This new menu plus a venue refresh that includes more dining tables and brightening up the front bar area is done with the local community in mind. It’s a true pub at its heart – welcoming and just as great for a quick pub meal or a longer lunch catch-up with friends or family.”