Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Camden, Caulfield South
Camden (Town) Hotel
Where? 414 Hawthorn Road, Caulfield South.
When? April 16, 2021
Long time veteran of the Melbourne pub scene, the Camden Hotel (once trading as the London Tavern) is somewhat of an outlier – but in a very good way.
Long, rectangular, neat, it appears almost from nowhere on Hawthorn Rd almost unexpectedly, between Dandenong and Nepean.
Outside is sedate given the surrounding streets, the pub wins you from the start with modern timber fixtures and fittings (brown/chocolate the predominant colours), good happy service and a comfort level in keeping with the surroundings.
On entering there’s the long-ish front bar, TAB to the back, the pokies, small room and secreted away, through to the modern bistro with the beer garden to the rear. Plenty of parking on the street or in carpark.
Big plus is full table service, switched on (mature) staff and an all-round cleanliness that screams we take pride in our pub.
The food and drink covers familiar territory very well so you can go there with the knowledge that the Camden has an all ages appeal. Very well presented is the Carlton D (5.5/pot), and the wine list has some nice surprises – Snake/Herring Riesling (11pg/50/btle) from WA and pricing is standard for wine in pubs.
The Camden fits in perfectly.
In keeping with the theme of this review, steady as she goes is the best way to sum up the food offerings here. It is nicely presented pub grub, covering familiar territory, served at table. There’s a sports bar special of popular dishes, and a very fair offer of $15 for the lunch express.
In the bistro, starters cover Mussels, (either white wine/tomato sugo) at $20, arancini of sun dried tomatoes, pea/basil $12, or spicy prawn skewers, rice @ $23. These can easily fall into mains as the size is generous. Pizza, (18-22), pub classics, (all priced mid 20s), onto mains of Flounderfull plated at $34, up to a 250g Eye fillet, 2 sides, sauce at $40.
The average prices are;
- Entrees – $13-22 (antipasto plate 25)
- Mains – $27 (fully plated)
- Dessert – not really
- Chicken satay skewers (4/$12). Fillet in one piece, (not cut into pisces and threaded) wooden skewer, very smooth peanut sauce comes with a fresh salad, balsamic glaze, is a filling and pleasant starter. A distant cousin of what you may expect from Little Bourke St., nonetheless tasty enough,
- Beef Burger, bacon, cheese, relish, chips. $15 express lunch/ normally $20. Again no faults, good sized patty, brioche bun, very fair pricing at lunch
- Otway Pork Cutlet, smashed chats, pickled cabbage salad, apple/raisin relish. $34. Good pub meal. Big meaty cutlet, v/ well cooked, the cabbage has the right cut through to work in harmony with the pork.
Small history level here in the life of Melbourne pub rock late 70s/80s at the then named London Tavern.
While live music fell into two areas – inner city or suburban barn – the London Tav was a big player in rather urbane/sedate Hawthorn Rd, Caulfield South. Upstairs for the pop/rock of Dragon or the prog rock sounds of Sebastian Hardie.
It was a go to venue for that something in between. Or to catch up and have one before Caulfield played in Div 2 of the VFA .
That end of Hawthorn road is still urbane suburban, and the pub blends in well with its environs.
Whatever version of refit that the Camden Hotel has had since April Sun in Cuba was belted out, the new look welcomes and delivers what all of us really want in a pub – a place of community to enjoy each other’s company.
Good pub. More Enya than Joan Jett in 2021.