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REVIEW: Toolangi Tavern
Where: 1390 Myers Creek Rd., Toolangi
Phone: 5962 9398
Date: 24 July 2009
Every pub, it seems, has a story to it: that the more fetched it sounds, the closer to the truth it probably is.
None though, quite match the stories surrounding the Toolangi Tavern, today’s pub of the week, and the second as part of trips into the fire affected areas of Yarra valley and beyond.
First up – where is Toolangi?? Get to Yarra Glen, head along the Melba Hwy past Dixons Creek, into the state forest, turn right at Castella and there you are some 8km off the main drag. Allow 80 minutes from town.
A guest house in 1890, licensed in 1913, burnt down in 1975, (locals helping themselves to the beer after the fire and drinking it under a tree on the grounds), general store attached to premises close in 1999, re-built and re-open as pub in 2006, some 30 years later.
Barely spared from the February 2009 inferno, the pub has faced tough times since, providing food and comfort for those in need from nearby affected areas, and as far as I can gather, acting as a de-facto charity.
Heavens knows things are tough, but, according to Michelle, community comes first. So now to the present, as the pub slowly re-builds its trade.
In the 14 years of reviewing pubs for Neil, there are some majestic vistas that pubs enjoy. The Royal Mail at Dunkeld has the fabulous Mt Sturgeon in the Grampians as its backdrop; The Toolangi Tavern has the Great Dividing Range forest front and centre from the Gunnado Deck.
It is now both general store and tavern so in essence the Tavern is one large area, with a bar, dining room, roaring fire and sofas. The deck is through the main area and is home to a blue baize billiard table. Chooks tend to wander through the deck.
The lounge has “The I dips me lids’ bar, paying tribute to Toolangi’s most famous resident C. J. Dennis. The wit and satire of the great Australian poet is not lost on the current owners who have an unsubtle, but funny message;
“Parents please note – unsupervised children will be given a double espresso and a free puppy to take home”. Love it.
Its good pub grub, with a host of generous, fully plated meals at $15. The Toolangi Burger is a tasty feast, with beetroot, and a wonderful fresh salad of mixed leaves, tomato, radish and vinaigrette. A thick slab of Atlantic salmon, beans, potato, romesco sauce costs $15. Think a parma, roast of the day, calamari and all cost the same.
I know the adage of never eating seafood if you can’t see the ocean has its merits but sometimes you gotta trust your instincts. !/2 dozen coffin bay oysters were wonderful ($16); Kilpatrick was ordered as well.
A Mixed grill ($15) comprised a good slab of steak (rump), grilled chicken breast, sausage, bacon, grilled tomato, egg was very fair shopping.
Eye fillet, ($23) from the specials board came with a ragout of mushrooms, spinach and crushed potato in its own juices and devoured with ease. Cooked as order, fairly priced at under 425.
The wine list embraces the Yarra Valley with the well known De Bortoli, and the lesser known Let’s dance and Leayton Estate filling the dance card. But the Toolangi Shiraz ($35) was offered and accepted fitting the meals perfectly.
But it’s the view that makes this such a special place; jaw droppingly beautiful as you sip on a beer which, yesterday became colder the longer we stayed out on the deck.
Summer or winter, it deserves a look. And if you want to ensure that a small pub, real hospitality with good grub survives, make it one of your go to leisure destinations in 2009.
Personal Note; Again many thanks to Phil Chambers who took on the role of driver. Thanks also to Paul Donaldson, brand manager for VB, who provided a keg of VB and a signed Australian cricket bat to Michelle to hang proudly in the Tavern. Thanks also to Trevor O’Hoy who provided a signed North Melbourne Football Club Football. All costs were met by 3AW.
3AW Pub Of The Week is back - and better than ever - on 3AW.com.au. Take the tour through Victoria's best and worst pubs with our expert, Tony Leonard. Click the image on the right to read all of the reviews for 2009.