Pub Of The Week review: The Rochester Hotel in Fitzroy
PUB: Rochester Hotel
WHERE? 202 Johnston St. Fitzroy
PHONE: 9419 0166
WHEN? 4 March 2016
First time. Wonderful old brick pub, long rectangular dining room with exposed kitchen, old school wooden/sealed concrete floor, kitsch knick-knacks.
The Rochey is resurrected on back of ‘liquor, crabs, rock ‘n roll’ and is screamingly popular. Pardon the obtuse, but it has that loungeroom feel of most inner north grungy pubs, but somehow feels a notch above, with the excellent Katie Marron and her heavily influenced deep south of America style cooking.
Old school (Melbourne Bitter again but selection of craft, including Young Henry, Brooklyn Lager), great soundtrack (Blind Faith playing), and a happy, can-do attitude.
Beer garden completes the tour. Well shaded, and a mural of a fishing boat on back wall. No Pokies/TAB.
It’s different, with the staple building your own crab boil. ($27). Crab, corn (with melted butter), kransky, and chat spuds come as the base, then ramp it up with extra crab, prawns, clams, and mussels. It’s fun and messy, so the plastic bib and steel claws to open the crab come with it.
Cajun Chicken, Gumbo, Hot Sauces, Rum-spiced ribs are some of the snacks/mains, but the show stopper, all on display in an iced tub, makes you yearn for the crab.
Entrees $12, Mains $25, Desserts $10. Wine list is limited and goes to the standard mark of $40-45/bottle and $9/glass.
Crab Boil (as above, $27). Very good. The crab (300-400g) is sweet and juicy, but there is the finicky bit of getting it out. The bib is a winner. Loved the grilled corn with melted butter. If you are going to a pub, be different. Share this.
Chicken and Chorizo Gumbo ($25). Good. Little on the light side for the heroes, but nonetheless very tasty with the dark, spicy juices elevating the dish. Make sure you try a corn muffin ($3) with this to mop up.
Mr. Mick Vermentino – $9/glass. Neat white, suited the dishes, not too sweet/dry. Easy guzzling.
Craft and Commercial. Good tap – Coopers range and bottles offer different. Definitely a beer pub with a wonderful front bar to talk, have one, or talk to the engaging staff. IPAs, stouts, browns, ciders all ticked off.
SERVICE AND STYLE
What I hoped for, I got. People who love the pub run it, and happily talk about it and promote it. You like them, they like you and above all, the Rochey is a pub that you want to return to and try something else.
The ‘Castle’ no longer is part of the title but, save for a good clean up, the Rochester is pretty much how you remembered it if you haven’t been for a while. No doubt the recruiting of Miss Katie from the Crab Shack in North Melbourne is a masterstroke. Go on, have fun, be different! The Rochey will please.