Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews Lamaro’s Hotel
273 Cecil Street, South Melbourne.
When? November 8, 2019.
Lamaro’s, (so named after the previous owner Pam Lamaro, one of the best Melbourne’s best publicans), is simply a wonderful hotel. Indeed this pub that formerly traded as the Morning Star, was also run by legends of hospitality (the Kanis Family) some time ago, so the lineage is here in beautiful downtown Cecil St as you approach City Rd.
Lamaro’s is now the domain of a couple of other legends, Paul Dimattina (no intro needed with that surname) and Geoff Lindsay, restaurateur, chef, and whose knowledge of this industry has few peers.
The beautiful footpath and greenery (used very effectively to dine outside) gives way to half height sandy/brown tiles, then a low key, but effective greyish facade. Lamaro’s looks like a neat old pub, nothing more/less.
Through the doors and the pub is essentially two rooms; a front bar, dotted with tables at the perimeter that has sufficient area at the smallish, semi-circular bar to have groups stand around and have one or two before retreating.
The dining room may seat 40 or so, but is well spaced with standard fixtures/carpets, but its neatness/attention to detail that gives this a special edge. (Separate room for 12 at the rear of the dining room is always well populated). Again they get the balance right; it is comfortable, warm but not so pristine that you are wary of touching anything.
From here it just gets better, irrespective of where you take block. The food/drink/service is spot on and and in a trice bar two or three hours have evaporated and you are satisfied you have made the right choice.
Lamaro’s is a charming pub run by charming men and women.
Two menus – bar and dining – keep it compact. The bar for example, offers Wilderness Beef Burger, 180gm, w/ bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, pickles, sauces & fries (22) or Steak sandwich w/ Dijon mustard, Swiss cheese, onion jam, rocket & tomato (20). Classic pub grub, higher level.
The dining room sees Lindsay excel with some old favorites from previous journeys at places such as Pearl in Sth Yarra. Yes MAIN plates are higher – say $38-46 – but the produce and execution are superior to standard pub grub.
- Wood-fire grilled scallops (4) with roasted pork belly, tamarind and palm sugar dressing, spearmint. $ 26. If you have one indulgence for the year, this may be the dish. Amazing mix of flavours.
- Red duck curry, crispy fried egg, sweet and sour sauce, coconut rice. $42. Another example of this dish, all relying on the flavours to work together in balance. They do.
- Veal Schnitzel, sourdough crumbs, pan-fried, with Italian slaw with Parmesan and lemon, mustard sauce $38. The pubs’ signature dish delivers. The sharpness of the salad, heat/sweetness of the sauce make perfect partners for the schnitzel. Long time favourite.
Beer covers the main bases and like everything in here is looked after beautifully. Pot of Carlton Draught is $5, but Lord Nelson 3 Sheets Pale, S&W Pacific (6.5/pot), with some imports make up the choices. The taste is bang on.
Wine list is higher than the mean, around $15/$70/bottle, and you choose from an extensively curated list. There are now some fine producers of Riesling from Hobart. Parish Vineyard – $76/bottle – was chosen. Great stuff.
In the dining room, no need for music, the air was full of eager chat enjoying outstanding hospitality, while the bar had some gentle tunes barely cutting the air. As it should be. 10/10
Excellent. Paul Dimattina was born into hospitality and it shows. This has been handed down to his staff and the willingness to serve gladly is there to see. People who genuinely enjoy hospitality are rarities; if you have them at your work, hold onto them as long as you can. They are worth it.
Not sure how long it is on for, but the pub has a stack of pictures/prints of the Rolling Stones in action at Kooyong – yes it was the home of the big concerts – from the 1973 Exile on Main St tour. Go back in time, remember where you were, but above all, ask yourself this: What in heaven’s name was the attraction with Flares? Kieth and Ronnie looked fantastic in anything, but now and in retrospect, the Flared pant failed them!!
Lamaro’s has everything going for it, blessed with the underrated feature of a glorious wide, shady footpath out the front of the pub. Put it in the same class as the Kent Hotel, Rathdowne Street, Carlton. Both pubs utilise this feature expertly.
This is a pub that aims high with its food and drink , but never loses sight of the fact it is a pub in very sense of the word. You want to walk in and stand at the bar, or grab a table and use the facility to sit around and toast someone, or gather as a sporting group, you will do this without feeling out of place.
You want to celebrate something very special? Ditto to the foregoing.
This was in evidence last Sunday, in spades, right across the pub. Truly a wonderful pub is Lamaro’s, run by experts that embrace hospitality.
Definite contender for Pub of the year.