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3AW’s De Bortoli Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews Aviary Hotel, Abbotsford

MML

Pub:                      Aviary Hotel
Where:                  271 Victoria St., Abbotsford
Phone:                  9428 7727
Date:                     30 October 2015
Score:                   15/20
Internet:                 www.aviaryhotel.com.au

OVERVIEW:

In the shadows of North Richmond station on Victoria St., best known for its excellent array of Vietnamese  restaurants, a quiet and assuming pub commenced business around 18 months ago,  The Aviary.

Most pubs have had a previous life at their place of residence, but not here. In endeavoring to determine its origins, no one can say what it was before the Aviary Hotel, but certainly never traded as such.

(A long closed bank branch is the more common answer).

Add to this, there is no external identifier, such as large luminous globe screaming Vic Bitter or Carlton D so as you inevitably crawl along Victoria you happen upon the Aviary, rather than see from a distance.

This is a wonderful pub. Food, drink, entertainment, service, hospitality: all the reasons to love our Melbourne pubs are here and in an against the tide kind of way, The Aviary is offering different in this strip.

It is winning the battle.

Street dining, (if that’s your thing), a front, darkish, bar with music going at a most sensible level, spacious tables and benches atop of a sealed concrete floor  (music ramps up Sundays after 3).

Courtyard that is rough enough around the edges but not overly so  (More Pearl Jjam than Nirvana) with retractable roof, perimeter seating, lovely ‘Mexican cantina cushions’ is enclosed by surrounding walls so sun or shade, whatever your choice, is available.

The pub sets its food at a higher level and succeeds in spades. A little, but not so outrageously, priced above the median, but when you see the work going in, it is well worth the extra spend.

Beers cover commercial (Boags) and craft/ciders on tap. All right priced.  Wine list is different, mostly  priced to the mark, with some a little over. To be honest there is no spoil and if i have criticism, some bottles in the mid 30s would have been nice.

The Aviary is a place to go.

PRICE:                2 menus, bar/bistro (chosen) menu;

Entrees:               $12
Mains:                  $25
Desserts:             $12
Wine:                   $45//$10/glass

COMMENTS:

Curiosity led me here, simply as I could not place it. What a find!.

From the moment of stepping in, the stafff was eager to please. Eat inside or out// Two menus. Table service is you want the full whack.

Immediately you are confident the right choice has been made. Beer in 3 sizes and Stone/Wood Pacific was chosen. Easy to see why this is the darling of so many craft beer lovers. Taste, Glassware were top notch.

The food is pitched higher level than straight up and down pub grub but if you want the house burger (with bacon jam – up yours WHO) then it’s $13, and add 4 for a side of chips or 5 for an extra pattie.

The menu is an interesting read. Golf ball size Croquettes – Chorizo, peppers and parmesan are $2.5 and sit atop of a creamy aioli. All component parts identifiable.

Soft shell taco of cajun fish, corn salsa, cabbage, kohlrabi, coriander ($8) were generously served, as was Coke fried chicken, aviary hot sauce ($12).

What can be done from scratch from the the kitchen is. Mains? How do these sound;

Chargrilled lamb leg w/ kale,charred asparagus,chat potato, red pepper, smokey eggplant and jus (27) or Pot roasted wild rabbit w/ kaiserfliech, potato, leek,spring carrot, broad beans, mustard & grilled bread (28).

Yes there’s a parma, yes there’s a steak (Cape Grim) all with an extra touch such as duck fat spuds in the fully plated price.

The wine list is interesting, chosen from smaller producers and doesn’t overburden you with choice.

It is a great package from start to finish and as said, offers that point of difference in this street.

The Aviary is a fantastic addition to Melbourne’s pub scene.

TRIED:

?       Chicken scratchings, japanese mayo, $8.   Bowl of fried chicken ‘crackling’, rch dipper, and you wash it down with a beer. Clearly not one for the WHO (again), but heavens above, if you’re gunna go, (and cheaply), consider these beauties,

?       Crispy Skin Trumpeter, (32), chats and salad.  Thick tile of white fleshy fish, so tasty, moisture retained with the crispy skin, great eating,

?       Squid ink spaetzle (small potato dumplings), chilli calamari, crab, tomato, prawn butter – $25.  What a strange sight. Dark, mini dumplings, fresh seafood, in a  delicate prawn butter.  This was a cracking good, fresh take on the marinara,

 

?       Triple choc brownie, Pedro Ximinez Ice cream, ($12).  Yes.

?       Exclamation Riesling – $54.  Top notch white from SA, but pricey.

SUMMARY:

Congratulations to the team at the Aviary.  In a short time, this pub in my opinion has elevated to one of the better in Melbourne and one of the best I’ve been to this year.

This is a pub that will continue to grow if the standard of food and drink is maintained. All ages, good feel, happy, obliging staff.

Have a look, the visit will be rewarded.

 

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