Joxer Daly’s Steak and Ale House, Masterton, New Zealand

Masterton’s the biggest town in the Wairarapa. I wouldn’t want to shift there, but I quite like visiting every so often – just to pass through. Karen and I spent a couple of days there this Labour Weekend. We stayed at the Solway Park – or Copthorne as it calls itself now – and played golf at Lansdown on Saturday (I won) and at Carterton on Sunday (Karen won). The Solway Park restaurant was fully booked on Saturday night so we headed for Joxer Daly’s Steak and Ale House at 7 Perry Street (near the middle of the CBD). The name’s weird but is used for a character in Sean O’Casey’s play Juno and the Paycock. O’Casey was born on the street where Dublin’s Joxer Daly pub is located but I’m not sure if he named the character after the pub or if the pub is named after the character.

Anyway, Masterton’s version tries hard to be an Irish pub but the effect’s a bit diluted by an overall New Zealandness. It’s quite big inside with a large eating area. There was a reasonable sprinkling of people inside and a television showing old Split Enz videos. The menu had all the usual things you’d expect – steak and stuff, plus stone grill options (Karen spent a nervous few minutes cooking raw chicken on her heated stone slab). And, as usual, there in the entrees (or “Gap Fillers”) was Joxer Seafood Chowder for $16. Seafood chowder is a common entree and I guess it’s because it is relatively easy to make. You bung a lot of bits of seafood from “Bob’s Generic Seafood Mix” or whatever into a big pot or vat, add milk and carrots or spuds, heat, and then just keep it going somewhere in the kitchen.

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I ordered a pint of Guinness to go with the chowder – half drunk by the time it arrived. The Guinness was nice and cold and unfortunately the chowder was also coolish. There was a good quantity and it was full of seafood – prawns, mussels, squid and some other stuff, a few thickish bits of carrot, and lots of some sort of fish. The fish ruined it really. It was very solid and slightly chewy – I don’t know what variety, but by the time I got to the end I had had enough. The chowder itself had a nice taste, but lacked the creamyness which I like. Accompanying the chowder were two pieces of buttered wholegrain bread – very tasty. The chowder wasn’t all that bad, but definitely far behind some of the other ones I’ve had. I’d rate it 6.5 out of 10. The toast takes it up from 6.