Friday, July 14, 2006

Prairie Hotel

The wind is ripping in a full-force gale…unusual even for this part of the Outback…and all the more reason to crowd inside the bar at the Prairie Hotel.

"This is Jane. This is Heather," says Grant, the bartender, ensuring that guests break the ice. Maggie, the day bartender, has done the same thing, and by now pretty much everyone in the bar is feeling fine.

Tiggie, Heather’s husband of 50 years, immediately picks up on the fact that we’re Yanks .. how did you end up here? .. and starts razzing us about George W. “I feel badly for the American people,’’ he says. “They’re nice people…’’ the implication somewhere in the next sip of beer or two that Americans deserve better.

The bar is crowded with visitors like Tiggie and Heather and locals, too. (The guy at the end of the bar in the cowboy hat is owner Jane Fargher son, just in from mustering cattle.) “This place is party central,’’ says someone…though after a few beers, who can tell just whom. “Wait until later; sometimes there’s a floor show.’’

This is Outback hip, a total so fun and funky that it has made it into Herb Ympa’s Hip Hotels series. Movie stars have stayed here and raved about its food, and having partken of The Feral Feast (‘smoked roo, emu pate, camel sausage, ‘roo filet, emu patties and quongdong pie, $40 for three courses) I can say the raves are well deserved.

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