Best steak at the Bull & Barley, Cambooya

It's a bit of a drive from Brisbane but what you spend on petrol you surely make up on the cost of the steak.

I don't know anywhere else where I could sit down to a 400g hand-selected prime MSA Black Angus beef rib fillet steak with a home made mushroom sauce and a raft of veggies for $28.50.

I'm talking about the Bull& Barley Inn, at Cabooya, a historic country pub in Steele Rudd country just a bit west of Toowoomba.. Steele Rudd (aka Arthur Hoey Davis) is best known for his literacy works featuring the great Australian characters, Dad ‘n’ Dave.

The pub has been sensitively restored to retain all its charms but still function as a modern venue. There's both indoor and outdoor seating and a bar where you can chew the fat with a local.

Our visit was part of an overnight motor cycle getaway from Brisbane which started out near Woodford, wandered through Esk and up the range to Toowoomba and then out to Cambooya.  It took us half a day going the back roads and throwing in morning tea and lunch.  You could probably do it from Brisbane in around two hours. True.

We arrived late afternoon and checked into the Inn to stay the night.  More about that after I've raved about the meal.

The meal was huge, the steak was cooked as ordered - medium rare - and the mushroom sauce contained none of the tell tale signs of commercial preparation.  It just tasted like creamy mushrooms, like something I might have made myself.

And I'm not fooling myself that this was elaborate fare. It wasn't. Just simple country cooking extremely efficiently and well prepared.  There's not much space left inside the hotel that could accommodate more tables so the kitchen is fairly busy.  Even so on a busy Saturday night they pumped out the meals in good time.

Country folk love their seafood and along with a good selection of steaks and a baked sticky pork chop these was a wide selection of prawns and barramundi done four different ways.  Maybe six if the crumbed fish and battered fish was barra too!

Dessert was a selection of pies, pav and crumbles and nearly lived up to the unspoken promise of the steak, just not quite.  That is they were good, but not knock me down with a feather good.

We retired to our rooms way too early after a tiring day on the bikes and spend some time listening to the bar chat from below until we managed to sleep.  Morning came early with the sound of the vacuum cleaner at 5.45am.

Generally the accommodation is what you would expect at an old pub.  Reasonably-sized rooms with shared bathroom and toilet facilities down the hall.  All were newish and spick and span.  If you've ever been to boarding school you'll have some idea of what I'm talking about.

What I didn't expect was to be put in a room where there was no opening window, no air conditioning and a noisy fan.  There was a fanlight window over the door which I managed to open for a little ventilation to the corridor. My request to move could not be accommodated as the Inn was sold out.  My advice would be to book only rooms that have opening windows which seemed to be those on the verandah side.  It was disappointing to say the least.

Bottom line:  Great country style food and good value
Best tip:  Their business is running the restaurant, accommodation is a bit of an afterthought and it shows.

Kerry Heaney

Disclaimer:  Ed+bK paid for the food and accommodation