Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Chelsea Heights Hotel
Chelsea Heights Hotel
Where? Corner of Springvale and Wells Roads, Aspendale Gardens.
When? June 25, 2021.
The Chelsea Heights Hotel is a massive pub in the outer south east of Melbourne, doing pretty much what big pubs in the ‘burbs do.
In describing its look, part Tardis, part London Gherkin, the multi domed venue houses a big sports bar/TAB, big gaming, split level massive dining area/bistro, with kids playroom attached. A well appointed mezzanine bar, great views, private functions if needed, sits atop the bistro to take it all in.
(When restrictions are lifted, live music will complete the package from some of Australia’s finest, Angels, June 2022, Darkroom tour will be a must).
During the COVID lockdown in Melbourne (June 2021), much of the pub was not operational, and the bistro was scaled down in numbers – 2 settings – and a similarly reduced menu was offered. A vote of confidence from the public should be acknowledged as that the pub was adhering to the rules and reg, e.g numbers. Social distancing, QR, sanitisers etc.
The full range of pay per view sports, Boxing, UFC , American Football etc., is shown in the sports bar and always attracts big numbers.
However, the trend in these pubs – The CHH is owned by the gargantuan ALH group – to up its game in food and drink continues with a range of options (even in reduced menu form) now appearing that would not have been seen previously. (Case in point is The York on Lilydale, Mt Evelyn).
In essence you know what to expect, but the staff that was working the floor was courteous and engaging and made for a pleasant afternoon.
When in full swing, the pub offers oysters (19/30), felafel, empanadas, tempura prawns as part of its entree selections, with the mains including BBQ Pork ribs w/chipotle bbq sauce (29/38 half/full rack), coconut curry lamb shank (26/35), and fisherman’s catch of prawns, scallops, calamari, barra, salad/chips at $30.
The CUB/Treasury portfolios dominate the drinking landscape and the Carlton D was excellent, clean tasting with the glasses properly cared for. It can be done anywhere!! Wine runs a familiar course Pepperjack, Oyster Bay, but a long time favourite Annies Lane (approx 10pg/40/btle) met the brief.
The average prices are;
- Entrees – $14
- Mains – $24
- Dessert – $10
* * These prices are indicative when complete menu is offered.
- Karaage Chicken w/soy/kewpie/ginger ($15), Char Siu Pork Baos (3/$15). Both good starters, a bowl of chicken, deep crispy coating with lovely dipping sauces and the Baos arrived soft, warm with plenty of pork and creamy slaw.
- Fish and Chips, garden salad. $25. Two big flake fillets, big serve, hot and crispy, typical of a pub meal.
- Steak Sandwich, bacon, egg, onion, tomato, bbq sauce, chips. $22. Plentiful for sure, tasty, but the turkish needed to be toasted, and the onions lacked flavor. Overall no issue.
Like so many of its type, the effort to raise all elements of the offer is there to see.
As I said you know what to expect, and what is happening at the Chelsea Heights, I suspect, is being mirrored across a range of these big pubs. Having witnessed garlic bread being included in the “tapas’ section of these menus previously, to now having an option of firecracker sauce with an asian entree, then we certainly have come some way!!
A good representation of the big outer suburban pub, with good staff, making it all come together.
PS: After 13 years at The Laurel Hotel, (and many more in the industry before that), Christine Day and family have left the great establishment in Mount Alexander Rd. They have done a fabulous job with the addition of an upstairs function room making it a popular place for locals to gather and celebrate. The total package of food/drink/hospitality has always been very good – a recent meal of Gnocchi and Lamb Ragu was outstanding – and they will be missed by many.
There is no doubt that the new operators will continue the success left by their predecessors.