Folks of my vintage will remember the Charles fondly. Back in its day it boasted wicked Sunday sessions with the likes of Renee Geyer, Doug Parkinson, Russell Morris, The Hues Corporation, The Angels, and the list just goes on. The fact that this place is not only still standing, but still hosting awesome live bands is testament to its strong following in Perth. Weekly Blues nights, comedy nights and regular touring live bands are the staples of the Charles Hotel. Sadly its days look like being numbered, as the site is designated for an apartment complex in the not-too-distant-future. Thousands of music fans around the traps will be crying into their wine glasses when this old man goes down – it’s probably the last of its kind in Perth.
I’ve seen a few dud bands over the years – let’s not talk about the Dragon reincarnation – but when The Frames play their annual gig, I’m one of the multitudes busting their chops to get the coveted tickets. Old rockers around Perth in the 80s will have fond memories of these guys belting out their Cold Chisel/Meatloaf/Angels covers in the Nookenburra, the Booragoon and the Overflow. These days the guys are a bit longer in the tooth, but they can still belt out The Heavy Resurrection Shuffle and Working Class Man, and they can still get an entire pub on its feet in a dancing frenzy. I can’t bear to think about what the end of this pub means. It’s not just any pub; it’s an institution. It’s been rocking and rolling since the 70s, and how can such a piece of Perth folklore be replaced? It can’t my friends, it can’t.
I’m getting to the point of this blog which is not only to shout the praises of this North Perth institution as a music venue (let’s not dwell on the acoustics; have mercy), but to talk about the grub on offer. Now, this is not a place I would choose to dine in on any normal night, but on a Frames night, eating in is obligatory. You come, you eat, you enter the inner sanctum of musicdom, and you thank all the long departed rock stars that you didn’t have to queue up with the hordes of ageing groupies. Bypassing the queue is your just reward for dining at The Charles.
So how did the food stack up? Well it sure isn’t posh nosh, but as a filler before a frenzied night of dancing and ringing ears, it does the job. The token male in our group naturally ordered the Scotch fillet steak, and it arrived drenched in a peppercorn sauce and cooked medium as requested. He was a happy man.
Fish and chips – the ubiquitous pub meal – came in several versions. My $26 dish of grilled snapper with chips was fine. Not five star stuff, but it wasn’t terrible either. Fish wasn’t top quality but it was fresh and the chips were crisp and cooked well.
Another friend went the traditional route and ordered the battered version of snapper and chips. Again, she was satisfied with her choice that came with a side salad and a serve of tartare sauce.
Our last Frames groupie settled on the salt and pepper calamari with chips. I managed to sneak a taste; it was tender and as good as many versions I’ve tried in far more expensive establishments.
The Charles Hotel will never be remembered for its food, but it will be remembered for the brilliant musical memories it has given Perthites over the years. If you do go to a show and want to bypass the pre-show queue, go and have dinner beforehand. You won’t be thrilled, but odds are you won’t be disappointed either.
Oh, and The Frames? Bloody AMAZING.