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Pub of the Week review: Gamekeepers Secret Inn, Plumpton

TONY LEONARD

Pub: Gamekeepers Secret Inn
Where: 1555 Melton Hwy Plumpton
Phone 9747 1000
Score: 14/20
When: 9 June 2017
Internet: www.gamekeepers.com.au

VENUE

First review.   

On the back road to Melton, with the last sign of residential living being the Sugar Gum Hotel before reaching Melton, three prominent features appear from almost nowhere some 5kms later.  These are Galli Estate, The Windmill Restaurant, and today’s pub Gamekeepers Secret Inn (GSI).

Set 50 mertes from the highway, the GSI is a neat, English tudor style tavern comprising low level ceiling, stack of timber, low lit,  all in one area dominated by a cavernous fireplace.  Good sized bar means you can stand around a have one in a group before dining. Seats around 100/120, but could be under there.

There is a nod to fishing and hunting, but it’s not overdone.  Courtyard to the rear (covered in winter//opens up in summer), gives you majestic views of Toolern Vale/Ballarat Rd.  There is a remoteness and quaintness at the GSI, which over the next decade will dissipate as housing estates pop up nearby.

No TAB/No Pokies. Closed only Mondays, the pub opens from midday. Given location, this is to be applauded.

The GSI has regular music//dinner shows and there are some excellent meal deals. In talking to the owners, this is a night time venue but is ticking over well and bookings recommended on the bigger nights.

Food and drink is very good pub fare. There are no shortcomings at the GSI. 

MENU:

Plenty of choice and lunchtime specials at $16.9 appeal to all budgets. Breads dominate the starters but arancini, calamari,  chilli prawns are some choices from the tapas selection.

Mains are generously presented and have a degree of flair. Bushman’s Kangaroo Fillet (29.9) with native bush herbs, seasoned potato wedges, oven roasted tomatoes, green beans, served with a red currant jus, or Baked Atlantic Salmon (29.9) with a rocket, walnut, fetta & apple salad sits alongside Chicken parma (24) and fish and chips (26).  Good cooking. The GSI offers plenty of seafood options which confirms a confidence in supply.

Entrees $11, mains $27, desserts $9.

TRIED:

Steamed Mussels with half Cob loaf. $16.90.  Very Good. A massive bowl of mussels arrive – maybe  24 – in this kickass mix of garlic, chilli, tomato broth. Fresh seafood, right broth, the kitchen provided a wonderful start, let down only slightly by an over toasted loaf of bread.

Penne Carbonara. $16.90. Very Good. Another of the lunchtime specials, this was good pub fare as the combination of flavours worked so well without one overpowering or smothering the dish which can happen with Carbonara. Dab hand in kitchen again.

Braised duck leg, braised apple rings, mushroom risotto, bok choy – $29.90.  Good. Fine flavours all around. Meaty leg with the skin sufficiently crispy, loved the apples and bok choy, the risotto hot and cheesy, good eating. 

DRINK:

Beer and cider stick to the Carlton portfolio. Carlton D ($5.2) was the choice. OK.  Fat Yak, Guinness, Bulmers offer the different, but the wine list was fairly priced and a little left of center. Around $8.5 /gl //34 bottle and when Mt Riley Sav Blanc is offered at this price (as is Water Wheel shiraz), then you know you’re not getting striped.

SERVICE AND STYLE:

Attentive and personal, although to be fair it was very quiet when dining. This is a place though that has seen some rocky times and still trades well in spite of its relative anonymity.  There is a pride in what they do at the GSI and it shows.

SUMMARY:

A most worthwhile trip to the GSI. It’s good to see the pub still going and offering a point of difference that nearby Melton doesn’t as far as pubs go.

The pricing and quality is very fair and just its unique look demands you take the short detour from the Melton Hwy and see what the GSI offers.

Easy going and appealing: the Gamekeepers Secret Inn is drop dead pretty and is excellent alternative in the outer west.

TONY LEONARD
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