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3AW’s De Bortoli Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews The Village Melbourne

MML

Pub:                      The Village Melbourne
Where:                  557 St. Kilda Rd., Melbourne
Phone:                   9529 2899
Date:                     13 November 2015
Score:                   14/20
Internet:                www.villagemelbourne.com.au 

OVERVIEW:

The Village Melbourne is a pub that has arisen from the site of the original Belgian Beer cafe on St. Kilda Rd, and for a first time visit, I was gobsmacked as to how big an area it is so close to town.

Across the road from Wesley College, the pub is part Bluestone Cathedral (semper et ubique fidelis), part old time dance hall (it was, it was), part beer garden. There are 5 areas in all.

The indoor bistro is large, cavernous, lead-lit windows, wooden floorboards, tables etc.  A big bar, with busy friendly staff, dominates and the music is going at the right night-time level.

The outdoor areas – Arbor, under cover but still to a point exposed sits on black/white squared linoleum, and every stick of garden settings that Baby John and Adrianna would have given away of Wheel of Fortune, while the Beer Garden with pots, umbrella is tables/chairs  on asphalt. Very summery, fabulous under lights.

Music yes, good food yes. Drop dead gorgeous really.

Bistro meals, with full table service, bread, water (massive tick) runs lunch/dinner but all day snacky options are available.

Craft beer, tap and bottle continue the Belgian tradition. This is a good offer.

The Village intrigues me greatly.  I like it a lot. 

How it looks in a couple of years is the fascinating thing. The area, location, is there and the offer as it stands is fine; further development can elevate this one into a Melbourne Icon.

I hope so.

PRICE:                bistro menu;

Entrees:               $13
Mains:                  $26
Desserts:             $10
Wine:                   $45/$9.5/glass

COMMENTS:

The Village is an interesting pub which is a strange descriptor, I know, given publife is simple: Meet up, have a meal, have a drink etc etc, has been their mission from day dot.

At the Village, with its massive areas and the uber desirable location, this pub has the potential (dirty word I know) to be a landmark, known throughout the land as Melbourne’s best indoor/outdoor place for relaxing and socialising.

That is the future and for that reason alone, it is worth checking out now.

The Village ticks over well. The pub continues the craft tradition in spades and brands such as Leffe, Mountain Goat Fancy Pants (tried and good $7.5/pot) and 4 Pines are available.

The only ‘big boy’ is Coopers Pale, which at $7/pot is stiff by any measure. Most schooners of crafts are around $9.50.

Entrees cover the slider/small plates/croquettes choices and read well.  Smoked salmon, char asparagus, salmon roe steps up to the plate as newest variation on croquettes, undoubtedly the most added dish to pub menus in 2015.

The mains are a mix of modern pub favs, sliders, burgers, and cleverly worked fish, chicken,  lamb mains. The pub doesn’t include ‘sides’ so they do not arrive fully plated.  (However the quality of salads is worth the money.

There is a stonkingly great meal deal there at the moment. It was too good to pass up and it delivered.

Wine, like so many of its CBD counterparts, is way overs.  Sorry. There seems to be no exception in town to this trend anywhere in a pub. If there is a good bottle under $40, then I missed it. To be fair it’s an interesting list, but if the Village’s go is championing craft beers, then how about taking the scalpel to the wine list.

Dead Duck Pinot Gris, King Valley, $9.5/glass//$45/bottle was a fine representation of the grape from this wonderful region.

Sermon over. The Village has the most wonderful opportunity to become a big hitter in town.  You see the potential; you want it to succeed.

TRIED:

?       Buffalo Wings – $15/10 pieces, blue cheese dipper/hot sauce. This was some trick pulled off by the kitchen.  The meat fell off the bone; mostly that doesn’t happen with wings.  Full flavor, 2 great dippers, as good as I’ve tried of this ever present starter,

?       ‘Reformed’ lamb shank, roasted garlic polenta, crisp rosemary.  $28. Here’s the deal.  Meat removed from bone, slow cooked 12 hours, reattached, cased in bread crumbs, cooked and served as a ‘Jurassic’ drumstick.  Sits atop a pool of garlic polenta and juices. Refined, rather than robust. This is a clever dish, maybe a touch too clever,

?       Steak (special) with chips.  $18. Best under $20 main this year.  Cooked Medium Rare, this 350g Hopkins River Porter was full of flavor and served with a mustard and fries (plenty of them).  Juices gently seeping onto plate.  Lovely.

?       Iceberg salad. $8.  Mains do not come fully plated so a side is needed and when as nice as this then no problem. Ripped fresh crispy lettuce, radish, walnut, and subtle red wine dressing. Plenty for 3 people to share.

SUMMARY:

In the Academy award winning doco, 20 Feet from Stardom which chronicled the life of back-up singers to Rock Superstars, the theme running through  it was how close someone was – literal and figurative – to being that frontman/woman who enjoyed the trappings of a world wide star.

Alas fame was elusive in spite of proximity.

The Village Melbourne has so much going for it, that it is only inches from being that Australian pub superstar, the reputation the likes that The Oaks (Sydney) and The Breakfast Creek (Brisbane) enjoys.

Those aforementioned places are pub pilgrimages for those either wanting to know what the hype is about or those that have been, needing to return to relive the experience.

The Village has a massive outdoors area that may house anything it likes in time and with proximity to the CBD, it, too, may become a destination. .

To be sure, Melbourne doesn’t have a pub quite like this but my fanciful  notion of steaks, snags and shaslicks permeating the Wesleyian air on St Kilda rd is something I’d love to experience.

Melbourne’s beautiful/fickle weather may ultimately prove the sticking point, but the Village is one place worth checking out.

 

 

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