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Pub Of The Week 2020: Tony Leonard’s latest reviews

Neil Mitchell
Article image for Pub Of The Week 2020: Tony Leonard’s latest reviews


Date: 24 January 2020

Welcome to the 25th year of my presentation of De Bortoli Pub of the Week for Neil Mitchell’s Morning program. As far as can be determined, the segment started in 1990/91, and former reviewers were Shane Healy and Steve Price.

The aim has always been to promote pubs and their importance to local suburbs/communities. Along the way, there is no doubt the level of comfort in your local has mostly moved with the times as has the level of food and drink.

Since 1996, a number of Pubs of the Year have sadly ceased trading and/or been converted into apartments but for those that remain, there appears to be more people using them as an extension of their social activities with family and friends. To reiterate legendary publican Billy Bell’s thoughts….’Pubs are for christenings, wakes and everything in between’.  Good thing BB.

In 2020, it is the better levels of all areas of hospitality that I hope to find that distinguishes one from another and in December announce the Pub of the Year.

I genuinely encourage feedback of the pubs reviewed, and suggestions. Already a number of pubs have been recommended. My address is and I will answer each of them.

Format of Review:

There will be a change to the format this year. Reviews will be streamlined to give a broad outline of the pubs offer, (that’s code for I won’t crap on as much), but I will highlight the good/different that each venue of. Scoring out of 20 still remains; most pubs will fall between 12.5-14, and a point between pubs is significant.

Random thoughts for pubs in 2020

I know I hammer home quality and presentation of beer as the staple of a pub. A pot of commercially manufactured beer, Carlton Draught, VB, James Squire range, weighs in around $5.3-$5.5. This is based on a price recommended by the AHA.  Craft beer, given its smaller batches, usually kicks in around $6/pot. Beer needs to be well presented, the glassware cared for with proper cleaning agents, the lines cleaned, barrels rotated etc.  Publicans must become more vigilant in this fundamental part of their business; there are viable alternatives. As for managers of corporately owned pubs, get off your backsides, stop reading spreadsheets with your back to customers,  and drive this.

The rise of healthier options through vegan/plant based foods gathers pace at an unbelievable pace. While naysayers dismiss this as a waste of money, (I am not suggesting it’s out with the pub classics) but have a few alternatives to the parma/burger/steak/snags line up. Any skeptics should go to the Cornish Arms in Sydney Rd to observe how successful this is.

Finally the use of the term ‘Pub Grub’. For the sites that use this term to describe a cafe/bar’s offer, can I point out, like Champagne, that Pub Grub has only one home: A pub. Should you read this, clearly these sites don’t know/can’t be stuffed identifying what the business does and giving them a proper descriptor.


Weekly at random still remains.  Metropolitan areas for sure, not within 3 years unless the pub has had a total revamp. More pubs in regional areas will be addressed, when time allows. In Victoria, pubs a little out of town are being innovative with their total offer with support of local producers.  Also, I will visit some bars/breweries that embrace the pub culture in food/drink/comfort, and by another name, easily fall into this category of being classified as a pub. Certainly their popularity is really on the rise.


Looking forward to 2020 and presenting Pub of the Week. Please contact me with any suggestions. Thanks again to Vince Gurcuillo and the team at DeBortoli, sponsors of Pub of the Week since 1990.


January 24: Garden State Hotel, CBD – 14/20
January 31: Cremorne Hotel, Newtown – 13/20
February 7: Grand Hotel, Mornington – 13.5/20
February 14: Alehouse Project, Brunswick East – 13/20
February 21: Red Hill Hotel, Chewton – 14.5/20
February 28: Royal Mail Hotel, Yea – 13/20
March 6: Grand View Hotel, West Brunswick – 14/20
April 15: How you can help your local during the COVID-19 pandemic
April 30:
How you can enjoy a tap beer from home during the COVID-19 lockdown!
May 18: Pubs prepare to re-open from June 1
May 29: What to expect when you return to the pub next week!
June 12:
Montague Hotel, South Melbourne – 14.5/20
June 19: Swiss Mountain Hotel, Blampied – 13.5/20
June 27: The Auburn Hotel, Hawthorn East – 14.5/20
July 10: The Cheeky Pint, Footscay – 13.5/20
October 30: The Exchange Hotel, Port Melbourne – 14/20
November 6: The Parkville / Naughtons Hotel, Parkville – 15/20
November 13: Royal Hotel, Drouin – 13.5/20
November 20: Great Western, Ballan – 15/20
November 27: The White Hart Hotel, Longwood – 15/20

Neil Mitchell