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3AW’s Pub of the Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Leveson Hotel, North Melbourne

MML

Pub:                      Leveson Hotel
Where:                 46 Leveson st.,North Melbourne
Phone:                 9328 1109
Date:                    11 September 2015
Score:                   14.5/20
Internet:            www.theleveson.com.au  

OVERVIEW

In its former life as the El Dorado hotel, the rebranded Leveson was a good, honest, fairly typical Nth Melbourne pub of food and drink that was always seemed busy.

Since its new life as the Leveson, maybe eight years trading under its street name, the pub is one of the  most reliable in Melbourne for food and drink, but has captured a real market away from Nth Melbourne as somewhere to go when an event is taking place.

Its delightful heritage exterior, gives way to a sandblasted brick interior at ground level, all mod cons but in an understated way, then two levels of dining through to the rear where the beer garden resides.

How they have created this is brilliant; comfortable for a big crowd: personal and discreet if you want to be quiet in your own space.

The pub has aimed its food offer higher than standard pub grub, but at a notch below to what the nearby Court House was doing four years ago.

The wine list too reads very well but on entering you know they strive for better so prices are a little higher than the average, but not outrageously so.

The Leveson is a ‘buzz’ pub without really setting out to achieve this status. All functions here are real events and no doubt people will flock here pre and post Flemington races.

But that is for one week. The Leveson works all year round.

PRICE:                  bistro menu;

Entrees:               $12
Mains:                  $28
Desserts:             $10
Wine:                   $40/bottle//$9/glass

COMMENTS

Quick history lesson. There are times in Melbourne Night Life that the metaphoric ‘catching lightning’ happens to certain pubs/venues.

In the 80’s the Sth Yarra Saloon was one such; people would queue up in Toorak Rd to get in and watch Melrose Place. Yes.

90’s and with the gentrification of Albert Park Lake, the Carousel was where you had to be seen. Early 2000s and it was the Anglers Tavern on Maribyrnong river.

Now it is the Leveson. The pub, cleverly set out on four split levels combines superior grub, with good beer, comfortable tables/chairs and the right feel.

Beer mixes commercial and craft brands and are served brilliantly. Stone and Wood Pacific ale costs $6/pot, which for this popular craft is right on the money. Mountain Goat, Coldsteam Apple, Peroni, Carlton D are some of the other taps.

The bar, at ground level, looks fantastic with the exposed brick, great furniture to plonk the quarter acre on and the new bar top sends out a message that it is pub first and foremost and we are here to serve.

The two dining areas look over the bar and can be divided into smaller, private areas and then the lovely beer garden at the very rear.

Food is provided at a superior level but not overworked.

Croquettes, sliders, jaffles, make up the entrees but come with neat little tricks such as chilli caramel, or spicy harissa. A couple of pizzas and salads (ocean trout, baby beets, cherry tomato, snow pea sprouts, dill cream – $21) are also offered.

Mains are in the high $20s but push on from the norm. Red Wine and Rosemary shanks, beans and mash is $29; spicy beef ribs, coleslaw, BBQ sauce is $31. Yes to a Parma (full whack $25) and there are always some daily specials.

You pay a little extra but I think the quality is there for a good pub meal.

The wine list is priced to the mark, but not outrageously so. When you are an ‘It’ pub then expect to pay a bit overs.

Here’s a challenge. Derby night, Cup eve, Oaks day. If you happen to be free and in the area, take a peek. The Leveson will be going gangbusters.

TRIED:  dining room menu, 

?       Chicken tacos (2).  $12. A little pricey but they are filled with corn, tomato, jalapeno. Good heat, excellent beer food,

?       Leveson Seafood paella. $30. Plentiful supply of chorizo, prawns, scallops, clams, chicken, tomato and saffron rice.  Comes in a bowl rather than the traditional crusty iron pan, this is an excellent dish, resembling a moist reddish risotto rather than the yellowish drier spanish paella. Good, big meal, easily shared.

?       Porterhouse, grain fed, 300g MR, green beans, fries, mushroom sauce. $30.  Cooked perfectly, great taste, loved the beans. Simply a very good pub steak.

?       Tim Adams Riesling. $41. Reliable, golden, rich drop .

SUMMARY:

The Leveson is a very good pub and in the competitive area that is North/West  Melbourne, it strikes me as being the go to when something ‘big’ around town such as racing, Super Bowl, grand final.

Everything works well. Points of difference in food and drink are one thing, but that intangible of ‘vibe’ or ‘atmosphere’ is what makes the Leveson tick.

And notwithstanding the fact that it is cleverly designed  (over 4 levels in a relatively small space) so that all ages can be comfortable (although it tends to appeal to younger), the team makes it happen without horses and pokies.

This is a good Melbourne pub.

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