Pub: Railway Hotel
Where: 29 Chapel St., Windsor
Date: 19 October 2012
A massive two storey pub near the Dandenong Rd end of Chapel St, all the action regarding food and drink takes place on their thoroughly modern first floor that packs a punch in a rather limited space.
With the most beautiful view of the Melbourne skyline from their first floor, (just follow the train tracks back to town overlooking Windsor station), the Railway offers a heady mix of food, drink and good times and cannily completes the act of appealing to old (me) and young (you).
The Railway has had a stunning fit-out; there’s space for functions, cocktail classes, disco, but on the first floor, there is a 50:50 split in space for indoor/courtyard dining and on a brilliant Sunday, the pub was full and the music was going full tilt (acceptable even for me).
And what they get right here is that there first and foremost function is to run it as a “pub” rather than “venue”; the food is clever, well thought out, pub grub, and a good selection of wines comes from a limited list.
Fundamental to any pub is the draught beer; here it was wonderful, clean and best of all, the glassware had been properly treated. Table service, friendly staff, the Railway has a good team driving the ship and to me, appear to genuinely enjoy working there.
To top it all off, the Railway has a menu item that I haven’t encountered before. So simple, so smart and so brilliantly presented; potato cakes.
$4.50 for 3, garlic aioli, hot, golden. Even re-canting this, an image of Homer Simpson appears.
Mmmmm, potato cakes.
Entrees: Not really, save for the aforesaid potato cakes.
Functions/bottle shop (24 hour) is the street level offer. In common with the Flower Drum, there is a lift that takes you to the first floor if you don’t wish to take the stairs. And this is where the action takes place.
The rectangular bar greets you, and what is a seamless structure, it extends into the open face kitchen. The food leaving the galley looks impressive; simply you want to buy.
If I have a quibble, it is that smoking is allowed in the courtyard where people dine. For sure you know that (and is permissable), so if that doesn’t suit you eat inside (no leeching of smoke in there).
Pizza is a staple of pub life now so you if you charge $18, there should be a point of difference. At the Railway, there is a proscuitto, gorgonzola, pear, rocket (21) or pine nut, caramelised onion, roasted pumpkin, gorgonzola (18) for your consideration.
The pub staples are the go - 4 pastas including a linguine of pancetta, olives, tomato, chilli, rocket, red onion (21), big burger with the trimmings (23) or a maybe a platter of BBQ’d meats for 4 people (45) or seafood (55) if you go as a group.
I like generous mid-week “local” specials; the Railway is no exception. A 350g porterhouse, and glass of Shiraz from Heathcote sets you back a friendly $22 on Tuesdays; an express lunch from a set menu plus drink is $16. Good.
And with that view on a balmy, warm Melbourne summers day/night back to town for free, there’s a value add to the Railway that few pubs can match.
- Potato Cakes - 3 for $4.50 with garlic aoili. Made in the kitchen, fluffy and hot inside, golden brown outside. One seriously simple, smart dish.
- Beer battered king george whiting fillets, thick chips, tartare - $23. Fresh, white fillets, (3), served hot, great taste, just the perfect amount. And the proper fish used.
- Panko Crumbed chicken breast, vietnamese coleslaw - $23. Normally I’m a no go for CB, but this thick, moist breast in Japanese breadcrumbs, aided by the coleslaw (lot of mint through it) ended up a ripper pub dish,
- Mr. Riggs Watervale Riesling - $38//$8/glass. No problems there.
An extra tick goes to the railway for having its website up to date. I recommend having a look and the images really sell the pub in the most positive manner.
In a most curious juxtaposition, the Railway finds itself now at the more glamorous end of Chapel St, away (if it’s possible) from the hustle and bustle.
Its offer matches matches its environs; cool enough for those who want that, traditional for people like me wanting a place of food and drink.
Well worth a visit.