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Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Exchange Hotel

Neil Mitchell
Article image for Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Exchange Hotel

Exchange Hotel

39 Bay Street, Port Melbourne.
9810 0058

When? October 30, 2020.


And so pub life cautiously resumes in Melbourne with restrictions limiting how many can attend a venue inside and out, and how far can be travelled (limit 25kms until 9/11/20).

The Exchange Hotel has always been a solid and trusted fixture of Bay St., where it traded successfully as an Irish stalwart – Molly Blooms – over 25 years ago.

Large and comfortable inside with a traditional feel, space a plenty to spread out (when restrictions are fully lifted) over two stories, the Exchange looks and feels like a good old fashioned pub with polished board, fireplace and an excellent dining room for functions.

As outside houses (for the moment) more than indoors, the tables are spaced and shaded. Staff busies itself at a quick pace – it’s amazing to observe the distance travelled servicing the 5 or so tables outside as effectively as they do.

The menu is interesting and champions the fact it is done in house. This is good, real, pub grub at the right price.

If the efforts of the team at The Exchange are mirrored across the industry, then more people will gravitate back to the pub.

We missed you.


The use of the mobile phone here is a given. You check via phone, observe the menus – food and drink – via phone, place an order and wait. Given you are outdoors, in Melbourne, late October, it is fundamental staff is on the ball.

They were.

My suspicion is the full range was not available – there was a large difference between what’s on the website and what was displayed but it didn’t matter.

Entrees numbered 5 or 6, mains had the right mix of traditional and interesting/different pub  grub with a  dessert of sticky date. The parma was offered in 2 sizes ($20/26).  Love to see more of that adopted across the board.

My only grievance – and given the circumstances it’s not a die in the ditch thing – but no pots (285ml/10oz) were offered on phone. Schooner was the starter. This may have been a result of getting started again but please – to all pubs – make the smaller option available.

The beer sampled was of O’Briens Pale Ale, 330 ml (Ballarat) at $10.50. Highly regarded regional brewer, (Rebellion) the beer has a great taste and is gluten free.  Wine is around $11pg.  Tempus Two Pinot Gris $11.50 a most reliable drop, was tried.

Entrees: $14

Mains: $26

Desserts: $14

Tried was:

  • Goats Cheese Fritters (5/$14)/Salt and Pepper calamari. ($14)  Entrées and they were very good. Big Flavours from the fritters, while the Calamari, soft and smooth, was supported by a pool of black garlic. Most enjoyable.
  • Mint and Lamb pie, mustard mash, broccolini.  $24. Good pub meal. A proper pie, fully cased, chockers with salt bush lamb, sweet mash, and the perfect meal as the chill from Port Phillip comes up Bay Street at 7pm.
  • British Breed Porterhouse, 300g., chips, salad, peppercorn sauce. For mine this is the go-to in pubs. (Heresy I know from the parma lovers!!). Right price, good taste, filling meal.


This review was as much to get back and enjoy a pub as it was to observe how diligent pubs are in adherence to the new rules.

Even though the Exchange was limited in numbers, the determination to get it right from the get go was obvious. From the QR systems on entering to ensure they know who is there, to the contactless service, continual cleaning, and as important in making sure the punters had a good time, the Exchange met all you could ask for easily. It is vital for all patrons to enter your details accurately.

A very good restart to the pub of the year from the Exchange. May this be the minimum standard for all pubs.

Score: 14/20

Neil Mitchell