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Pub Of The Week review: Tony Leonard visits the Healesville Hotel

TONY LEONARD

PUB: Healesville Hotel.

WHERE? 256 Maroondah Highway, Healesville.

PHONE: 5962 4002

SCORE: 15/20

WHEN? March 17, 2017.

WEB: www.yarravalleyharvest.com.au

VENUE

First review.

One of three trading pubs in the this town, all pitching differently, the Healesville has long had a fantastic reputation of doing a higher level of food and drink which draws in people from near and far.

Impossibly beautiful old world Edwardian, the pub covers a massive area combining a separate cafe, butchery, luxury accommodation, majestic beer garden and split level dining areas inside.

Yes the prices are a bit higher in raw dollar terms but with a commitment to superior produce whilst firmly entrenched in its pub roots, on all levels this pub is a winner.

The beer garden seductively entices you to while away a few hours on a glorious and ever changing bbq menu; but it is the pub inside that demands you sit down – front bar or dining room – and enjoy the menu.

Darkish bar with bare wooden tables, is the lower level; a more opulent space with full table service and slightly different menu is the higher.

You know you are somewhere special but still in a good old fashioned pub. The beer, the heartbeat of any pub, is well served, tastes great even at an early hour on a Thursday.

This set the day up to be enjoyed and it was.

MENU

Smallish and seasonal.

There are four parts to the menu – snacks, entree, mains, desserts and it reads differently.

How does a starter of spinach, black pepper & fetta, hummus, toasted chickpeas & grilled flatbread $14 sound?

If the wonderful beer garden entices a rotisserie free range bird, spiced  charred red capsicum, black bean and  corn salsa, fat chips, ($30) then sit back and take it in, bro/sis.

A special is the 2 course $25, Mon-Thurs, Lunch/Dinner:  Craft Beer/Wine, a lime and coriander Guacamole, and rounds out with a big plate of slow cooked chilli con carne, rice, sour cream, cheddar, corn bread bread. That is good shopping.

Entrees $14, Mains $32, Desserts $15.

TRIED

Salt and chili spiced chicken wings – $12. Very good.

Eight smallish wings arrive blistering hot, coating spicy, tasty and importantly araldited to the bird, dots of fried spring onion: the DNA of your fingertips is vaporised as you jam them down your gob, then you go again, burn your fingers.

In the (sort of) words of Fat Boy Slim – Eat Burn Love Repeat.

Fish and chips. $28. Very good. three big, white, glistering fillets of Gurnard arrive with a ripper salad, standard ( but hot)  french fries, in a most generous serve of a pub fav. Gotta love this one.

DRINK

Heavily focussed on the area – tick – and by pub standards is about right priced e.g., Hargreaves Hill/Watts River for the beer, Sticks/Hoddles Creek for wine, Four Pillars for the gin are mere examples of how much the pub wants to keep it local.

Another plus is the willingness of the Healesville to offer a disproportionate number (to other pubs) by the glass.

Craft beer is around $6.8/pot, Wines $10-12pg.

SERVICE AND STYLE

Bang on. Pub friendly, young but assured, confident. All staff in neat uniforms, happy to explain what is popular on menu, and what matches well with food. Small taster offered if uncertain. Good on them.

SUMMARY

The Healesville has always had a fearsome reputation for doing higher end F&D, to the point where you ask..’is it a pub?’.

Having seen the old world small bar, beautiful beer garden with the intoxicating  smoke from the rotisserie heightening the senses (only needed the Byrds’ 8 Miles High as the background), the answer is an emphatic yes.

Example: Old, small wooden front bar. Up walks Nev/Kev, in overalls. Knows the staff and then asks for a pot of Hargreaves Hill. This is a bloke in his late 60s, happy to try a bit different.

New tricks being taught.

The Healesville Hotel is a beauty. Please keep it up.

 

(Vale: Royal Hotel, Clifton Hill. DeBortoli Pub Of The Year 2013.

Saddened and shocked to hear about the sudden cessation of business at this drop dead beautiful hotel, nestled away in Clifton Hill. It has been  family run for at least 30 years, and for very personal reasons, the decision has been made to close the doors a fortnight ago. The building will be retained and trade as accommodation only.

Thanks for the memories, Carlos and family)

TONY LEONARD
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