Tag Archives: gastropub

support the pub that supports you…

…by giving you a fantastic selection of craft beer!

The Royston Hotel is located in Richmond and is a mere hop, skip and a jump from the Mountain Goat Brewery, many of whose brews we’ve discussed on the blog aplenty, and imbibed even more.

It therefore made perfect sense to hold the second meeting of the Australian Beer Writers’ Guild at the Royston where we could not only have awesome local craft brews, but some damn fine pub grub too.

It was bloody freezing the night we went and I hit the stouts early under the notion that it would warm me up a little. On tap, was the delicious Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout (though if you wanted, they did also have longnecks of it in its Rare Breed incarnation, yum!).

As soon as we moved into the dining room, we pored over the menus and even more imbibing began – this time, mainly going with what was available in bottles. It wasn’t easy to choose what to have for dinner but I went with the braised lamb shanks with mash, barley and vegetable jus. Just perfect for the chilly winter’s night! The meat fell off the bone as it should have and it was a very generous serving. Indeed, I didn’t end up finishing my mash.

braised lamb shanks

To drink, I chose a Renaissance Stonecutters scotch ale – a brewery from across the waters in New Zealand. Haven’t had a bad drop from this lot once. Mmm. Really, really sorry about my crappy mobile phone pics – my phone had just enough charge to take bare minimum of photos required.

Renaissance scotch ale

The T-dawg ordered a very satisfying looking seafood claypot. It was humungous!

seafood claypot

Both him and I agonised over a good beer match with his dish – he eventually decided on a passable Emerson’s 1812 pilsner. Nothing to write home about, I’m told. Fellow guild member Jourdan supported this assessment, having drunk it on its homeland New Zealand.

Emerson 1812 pilsner

Personally, I wish the weather had been warmer so I could try out some of the ciders they had on offer. An excellent excuse for a repeat visit. The other diners went with the burger and the big-arse steaks on the menu. While the menu has many delectable options, I was a little disappointed to see that there wasn’t much in the way of vegetarian options that looked as equally delicious as the meat and seafood ones.

Then the ABWG got down to business, not before The Crafty Pint and probably Beer Blokes‘ Prof Pilsner managed to get us all a round of Stone and Wood’s draught ale with their beer gravitas. There was a glint in every punters’ eye at tasting the oh so familiar passionfruit note that the S&W draught ale is famous for! All Ale The Big V was indeed a most excellent secretary, reigning in us young roustabouts and unfurling the guild’s official logo.

The night finished with a blissful pot of Moo Brew’s stout for just about all of us. Well, when we could finally get Crafty and Prof out the door, those old timer beer folks do love a good natter. And rightfully so, as the staff are very sympathetic to the craft beer cause, and know quite a bit about it. It’s a wonderful pub and worth the trek even if you don’t live in the area.

Royston Hotel on Urbanspoon

not quite a gastropub, but pub food with real flair

My brother and his wife just had their first child recently so weren’t able to make it to my birthday dinner proper. Dad suggested having another (!) family birthday dinner a month after to make up for it. The initial choice was the lovely Station Hotel in Footscray, but sadly they were booked out for our chosen evening. My second choice was Hotel Lincoln, in Carlton. None of us had ever been before but they were perfectly happy to accommodate a baby in pram so that definitely sweetened things for us.

In typical familial form, all of us were late, some more than others. While my partner and I waited, we ordered Napoleone and Co. cider. It’s a very subtle and sophisticated cider and doesn’t taste alcoholic in the slightest, which is very bad as it makes it very moreish. Later when my brother, his wife and my baby nephew arrived, he tried it and seemed quite taken by it too. The three of us drinking it stuck with it for the rest of the evening, prompting a joke from our waiter that we had nearly depleted their supplies of it.

All of us ordered entrées except Mum who was concerned she’d filled herself up on their fresh, soft bread. Brother had pork crackling with fennel salt from the charcuterie selections, his wife and I the cured salmon with sour cream and toasties, Dad had the Middle Eastern spiced crab cakes with tabbouleh and tahini yoghurt, and partner had the grilled ox tongue with tomato relish and grilled potatoes.

The jokes were flying in regards to the pork crackling – it is very popular among Filipinos to have chicharon – seasoned pork crackling. Hotel Lincoln’s version is virtually flavourless, and you sprinkle the fennel salt according to your taste. I know it’s unhealthy, but it’s a fantastic snack to accompany beer drinking.

 pork crackling

The cured salmon was satisfactory and to be honest, not much can go wrong when it’s served with fresh sour cream.

 cured salmon

Easily, the bravest choice for entrées was the ox tongue. I had no idea what to expect: would its appearance be off-putting? I didn’t think so, but partner’s brain seemed determined to remind him that it was OX TONGUE and not tender, delicious red meat. What do you think?

 ox tongue

I wasn’t sitting very close to Dad so didn’t really get to ask him much about his choice. He said it was okay, but didn’t volunteer much other than that.

 crab cakes

Overall, I think the entrées were well received, but no one seemed to be amazingly turned on by any of theirs. Would mains impress us more? Hopefully so.

Brother and Dad were definites for steak. Both chose the 250g Victorian Yearling Fillet which came with a choice of béarnaise or Roquefort (yum!) butter. Both chose the former. I don’t think my brother knew what Roquefort was and wasn’t game to ask. One thing I will point out: brother asked for his steak to be medium but it came out medium-rare. As far as I was concerned, that was his problem because he chose not to inform staff as soon as he cut into his steak. We did press for him to do so, but he assured us it wasn’t a problem and that he’d be happy to eat it as prepared.

 steak and chips

Mum, predictably, had the market fish – blue eye with Indian spices and coriander and cucumber relish. It’s become her thing to have fish of the day when it’s available.

 blue eye

Partner had the rabbit loin with creamy mash. I wanted to have this, but chose the mussels so as to ‘test’ out as many dishes as possible. He said the rabbit was a little lacking in taste, but the mash and sauce was very yummy. The meat did seem a tad dry.

 rabbit loin with mash

I had the mussels à la meunière. Yes, I’m on a bit of a mussels/seafood kick at the moment, but as I said above, my partner chose what I wanted and I was quite happy to go with mussels, and these beauties from Spring Bay were massive as was the serving size. My dish came with handcut chips and homemade mayonnaise. Sadly, I left most of my chips due to being so full – such a shame when the mayo was superb.

 mussels with white wine

However, I wasn’t leaving without dessert! Good thing a few others decided to join me too. Mum chose the fruit salad with orange jellies which I have to say, looked very ordinary.

 fruit salad

My brother’s wife didn’t want to brave the raspberry clafoutis, and so had the chocolate pot with shortbread and orange marmalade, the latter of which I’m told was very sweet. Marmalade isn’t really supposed to be sweet… For a stock-standard dessert, it certainly looked impressive. The chocolate underneath the garnish looked so rich and creamy.

 chocolate pot

Partner and I shared the bombe Alaska – I was so looking forward to having my very first one! Tart passionfruit pulp mixed with sweet, soft meringue and an ice cream centre which I think was also flavoured with passionfruit. So dreamy. Has Masterchef brought it back in vogue?

 bombe alaska

The service was excellent and they were very accommodating when it came to bringing my baby nephew (who was very well behaved), but I can’t help but feel that the menu let us all down a little. Of course, as far as pub food goes, this is top-notch, but in terms of true gastropub fare, I don’t think they’re quite there just yet. However, if I’m ever in the area on a Monday, I’d love to try the bar meals which are all $12 before 8pm – this is quite the bargain. I was tempted by many of the bar snacks as starters before deciding upon my final choice. It’s not too far away from the CBD so head out if you can. I’m pretty sure I’ll check out the bar menu in depth at some stage. The dining room is a romantic, intimate space and I’d recommend it for dates because it’s nice and quiet so you can converse freely.

Hotel Lincoln on Urbanspoon

pub food on ecstasy

I’m going to be taking a brief break from my Sydney food reviews and focus on Melbourne a bit this week – pubs, specifically. Probably because I’m looking forward to an epic parma date with some good friends of mine in a couple of days.

My parents are ridiculously fussy when it comes to food – the place can’t be too far, the cuisine can’t be too exotic, the serves can’t be too big OR too small – you get the general idea.

Instead of buying them unwanted gifts every Christmastime, I prefer to take them out for dinner, despite my knowing the above. It’s always horribly stressful, but I am stubborn and determined to find places they will like.

I’d heard fantastic things about The Station Hotel in Footscray from fellow EDS writer Ryan, and thought I might take the folks there to spoil them a bit. I’d drive so none of that parking palaver, they could drink etc. All they would have to do is be ready when asked!

So on a fateful Saturday evening, we all set off. I was keen for the parentals to enjoy and was actually pretty nervous.

Mum was none too keen on the menu initially, and flat-out refused to entertain the notion of having an entree, as did Dad. Our lovely waitress dutifully informed us of the specials, and upon her quite passionate recommendation, I chose an entree serve of the Balmain bugs. This special was also available on the evening as a main. My partner had the blue cheese and leek tart.

Bugs of the seafood variety look positively prehistoric, but I’d been eager to try them for years. The meat is not dissimilar to that of, say, prawns or lobster. For such frightening things, they were tender morsels indeed. They came with a rocket salad that I must confess was a little too salty for my liking and liberally splashed with olive oil. I rather love my vegies without salt (yes, scary, I know) so it might be worth pointing out that this could be a personal preference thing, rather than my faulting the kitchen.

Balmain bugs

I did get a taste of the cheese and leek tart which was just perfect – the filling melted in your mouth immediately and had just the right amount of pungent blue. A stealthy glance noted that the partner thought it fab too: every last crumb was devoured.

Cashel blue cheese and leek tart

Then, to the mains. Partner and I shared the wagyu ‘rostbiff’, cooked medium-rare with bearnaise sauce.

wagyu rostbiff, detail

Dad had the pork cutlets, and Mum had an entire flounder to herself – the fish of the day.

Grilled Kurobuta pork cutlet with roasted spiced chorizo and kiffler potatoes

Ah sweet triumph. As soon as Mum tried her dish, she declared it to be good and even said so several times without being prompted. My heart was a good deal lighter knowing that she was really enjoying it! Dad, less fussy than Mum heartily tucked into his pork chops. Both parents offered me a taste of their mains. Mum’s fish was cooked perfectly and accompanied by a fragrant salad with parsley and basil which suited it wonderfully. It was a more subtle taste palate to what Dad had, with chilli – just enough for heat, and some good quality chorizo.


market fish of the day: flounder The wagyu rostbiff was such a treat, and though initially looked like too little for the two of us, was just right size-wise (cheers again Ryan for that tip!). I think I might have preferred my bearnaise on the side so I could dip cuts of meat into it as desired (the rostbiff was drowning in the sauce). The sides of salad and hand-cut chips were just amazing. All too often they are looked upon as secondary to the meat, but in this case, all three were equal players. I want to know how they get their damned chips so tasty!

The folks were right into the spirit of dining by this stage, and even consented to have afters. Mum chose a traditional bread and butter pudding and Dad took up the opportunity to get reacquainted with some good Bishop Cropwell Stilton. Mum laughed at my child-like glee as I cracked the burnt sugar on my crème brulee (I may have got a little excited, I confess) and the partner had chocolate cake. Pictured below is Dad’s cheese platter, and Mum’s pudding.

Bishop Cromwell Stilton

bread and butter pudding

Despite the Station Hotel being so far from where I currently live, I’d be eager to make the trek out again to try more things on their menu. The dining room is stylish without being intimidating, and the service was spot-on: attentive, friendly, and genuinely interested in their patrons. It’s expensive for pub fare, but you aren’t paying for standard pub fare: this is impressive pub food worth shelling out for every so often. In fact, am planning to get my folks to take me there for my birthday dinner.

Station Hotel on Urbanspoon