Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Auburn Hotel, Hawthorn East
85 Auburn Road, Hawthorn East.
When? June 26, 2020.
Beautiful multi-storied old Victorian pub in the shadows of Auburn station, The Auburn is part of the ever expanding Australian Venue Co portfolio of pubs that now includes the Station in Footscray and old Great Britain Hotel in Richmond (trading as the Harlow).
This pub has always been an impressive looker and is forever popular, especially with families on the weekends.
It is easy to see why. With a range of well appointed dining rooms, excellent bars, and an impressive beer garden all set in lovely heritage tones, it is a matter of picking your spot and be comfortable.
The pub raises its game from the get go. Switched on staff – the adherence to COVID-19 protocols is first class – good food, beer and wine options makes for a pleasant day or night here.
Small unobtrusive TAB kiosk for the horses : No pokies.
The menu sets itself higher but delivers on a better level of pub food from a slightly pared back menu: ditto the wine.
Many years ago, it was one of the hot pub spots to be seen at when it traded as the Geebung Polo Club and Sunday night was a haven for AFL footballers.
Now some 25 years on from those heady days, it retains all ages appeal and trades seamlessly.
Sharp, smallish menu featuring a couple of entrees, a range of pub favs, and a few steaks. It reads well.
While only 3 entrees are shown, the fact that 2 sizes of mussels and a ham hock terrine are offered screams different.
Pub favourites such as big servings of parma, fish and chips, burgers are $25. Pan fried Barra w/pickled fennel, squid ink rice cracker, and garlic aioli is $32, while a 300 g Scotch Fillet, fully plated is $37.
This menu may expand when restrictions are eased, but there is still plenty to like.
Mains: $27 (steak mid 30s-low 40s depending on cut)
- Fried calamari, chorizo purée, pickled onion. $15. What a good starter. Haven’t encountered that pairing previously, but it works so well with the pickled onion providing the sweetness.
- Spinach and Ricotta Chicken breast, pea fricassee, prosciutto, pomme noisette, jus. $29. Good pub dish, elevated with some nice touches. This dish is very generously served and represents good value.
- 300g Porterhouse, chips, sauce salad. $36. Sourced from Red Gum Creek (a high end provider) and cooked MR as ordered, this piece had a fabulous firm consistency and great char. Good, hot, big whack of commercial fries, fresh salad, great example of a pub favourite. Worth the price.
Reassuring to know that pubs that are considered failsafe in operation like the Auburn, live up to its reputation. This is as driven as much by staff as any other element of the business. Big tick here.
Simply put the Auburn works on all levels you could wish for.
And there is a distinct curiosity in the beer garden. The pub has set up 3-4 igloos (yes) to house groups/families in their own space and in the years talking about pubs, I haven’t seen anything like this.
Hopefully they work better than the Cone of Silence from Get Smart – still the funniest sight gag on TV!
For this alone, go and have a look, then stay around. The Auburn has a great offer.