Pub Of The Week review: Tony Leonard visits the Fitzroy Town Hall Hotel
PUB: Fitzroy Town Hall Hotel.
WHERE? 166 Johnston Street, Fitzroy.
PHONE: 9416 5055
WHEN? October 28, 2016.
Second review. (first circa 2010). The Fitzroy Town Hall Hotel (FTHH) has had numerous aliases over the journey.
Previously just the Town Hall, then the Wine Pub, then the Purple Turtle, then McCoppins. In spite of all of this, the pub has consistently delivered.
In my opinion this is its best incarnation, under chef/owner Sean Donovan, who has the double threat of being an outstanding cook, (Station Footscray//Wayside Sth Melbourne) but knows how to run a pub.
On entering from the main thoroughfare on Johnston, you are greeted by a snappy small front bar, polished boards, with Carlton, Moon Dog, Cavalier amongst the taps. Beer is very good; the glassware holds the lace. Tables to the side if you want a knockout bar meal and watch the passing parade (an early afternoon special of 6 fresh oysters, glass of wine//pot of draught is $15).
Two dining areas – the older, leadlight Dining, or brighter airy Atrium. Table service from warm and engaging staff, housemade bread/water to the table and whatever the budget, you will be fed brilliantly.
This is a fabulous pub and sits amongst the very top that Victoria has to offer.
Great entrees, Stunning mains, ripper desserts.
You want a traditional pub meal? Chicken pie with coleslaw is $22 or the Burger, with the magnificent house made chips – $22.
Saw it come out and looked the part. Steak, egg, chips – $26. Show off? O’Connor (the go to for the best steak chefs) 1.2 kg Dry aged Grain Fed TBone is $140.
Sardinian Fish stew of snapper, tiger prawn, clams, mussels, cuttlefish, saffron and fregola (pasta/cous cous) is $42.
All tastes covered. Entrees – $15, Mains $ 35, Desserts $14.
Crumbed mussels, chorizo, chilli, rocket, paprika aioli. Very Good. 8-10 pieces arrive in a large bowl and the flavors all meld.
Great beer food, great any food.
Fillet snapper (split and bbq’s on red gum), beans, peas, hazelnuts and lemon dressing. $38. Very Good.
Decent sized fillets, bbq added smoky/char flavour, clever mix of the backing band. Top notch fish dish in a pub,
O’Connor Rump Cap 250g, , cos wedge, capers, onion rings, buttermilk/horseradish dressing. Excellent. Cooked rare as asked, a superior cut, seasoned perfectly, adored the dressing on the lettuce. Chips extra, plenty to share between 2-3, great pub cooking.
Selection of commercial and craft (about 7 taps). Poured and served to its best.
In spite of the great food, this is a pub, and Sean knows that the engine room is the draught beer.
Happy Hour at $4/pot. Moon Dog ‘Old Mate’ IPA – one of the finds of 2016 for me.
Wine, like the food, ranges in price, but it is not a join the dots list.
Tries was a Celtic Farm Riesling ($10pg) and Di Fabio CabFrancMerlot (13/pg). Mid 40s for a bottle.
SERVICE AND STYLE
Knowledgeable, friendly, on point. Sit down, relax. Another slice or two of the fabulous bread? Sit there. This is hospitality all the way.
The FTHH is fabulous. This is the pub (and like others of its ilk) that confirms why we still lead the way in pub envy around Australia.
Default positions for big (and small) occasions/celebrations usually mean going to the Crown to one of the big hitters. Before your next special turn, go in here, have a look and dare to be different. And when you do, buy a bowl of chips ($8). Heaven awaits.
Melbourne got ‘it’ before other states when it came to pubs and still does. More power to the Fitzroy Town Hall Hotel.