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Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Grand Hotel, Richmond

pub of the week

Grand Hotel

333 Burnley Street, Richmond.
9429 2530

When? November 22, 2019.
www.grandrichmond.com.au

VENUE:

The Grand Hotel Richmond, on (always congested) Burnley St., has established itself as one of the 5 most bankable pubs in Melbourne, a reputation that has grown for at least 15years,  maybe longer.

Indeed it was the DeBortoli pub of the year in 2009, and in the following ten years since the last visit, some changes have been made at the rear of the public bar, renamed Piccolo Grand, serving only to enhance the overall offer, while reinforcing its Italian inspired pub grub.

The much loved dining room remains intact, separated by heavy curtains from the front bar, and looks as great as ever. Today’s focus however is the public/garden area and there is some very good dining and socialising to be had there.

A separate entrance has been introduced, so it’s down a small pathway from Burnley – italian images painted colourfully on the walls –  where you are greeted by an outstanding compact  “L” shaped beer garden. Either take block there, or head inside to a renovated back bar – exposed kitchen with massive pizza machine – and sit comfortably while perusing the menu.

This area really is split into halves, with the front half operating later in the day. The kitchen is a hive of activity as the staff worked the floor with a professional efficiency.

There is an exceptional lunchtime bargain of $12 woodfired pizzas.  Also you can  a DIY of meats/cheeses/vegetables of antipasti platters (from $20), and included is some good old fashioned pub classics.

The beer garden was near enough full, and in spite of continual tales of economic gloom, the Supertramp record “Crisis? What Crisis? seemed to be the theme running through my head.

People enjoying themselves at a ripper pub: It might catch on.

FOOD:

The dining room menu really amps it up but the food and drink in the bar is.  Pizza is provided in two bases – Rosse (tomato), Bianchi (White) and averages out around $22. Cooked in front of you they are a thing of beauty.  Lunchtime, each workday, they sell for $12.  No shortcuts. Any wonder they were doing a roaring business.

Parmigiana is $25, Lasagna $24, and Wagyu Rump Cap (John Dee), 300g with fires is $32.  Good mix of pizza and favorites.

Tried was;

  • Antipasti plate w/ rosemary and sea salt pizza bread. 3 ingredients – $26. Chosen was Salami finnochiana, duck prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella. Accompanied by a slab of pizza bread, a delightful mix of meat and cheese – the Duck with strong aniseed flavour a standout – was a perfect pick and mix, easily feeds 4.
  • Fish of the day. $29. Crisp skinned Barramundi, with a salad of chicory/radicchio,  excellent vinaigrette made for the right main on a very warm day. Under $30 for this quality  is a bargain anywhere.

DRINK:

No Carlton D, but 4 Craft taps with the pride of Richmond Mountain Goat Steam the most prominent.  Loved the Pale Ale “3 Sheets” from the Lord Nelson Brewery ($7/pot).  Very, very good.

The wine list promotes an excellent mix of local and italian in styles not so commonplace.  Trust the artisans in the King Valley to bring something different; Range Life Garganega (12.5/glass)  – a refreshing, white, that I had never heard of before.  The list is interesting; You will see different.  $12pg/$60/btle is the mark..

MUSIC LEVELS:

Very Good. Steely Dan the mainstay of the tunes played. Right level, blending in with the din of the room.  9/10.

SERVICE:

Absolute sucker for the free taster.  Got it with the wine. Glassware was looked after, the service/engagement of the staff made for a very pleasant lunchtime experience.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT: 

Love a side/sneaky entrance. It’s not as simple as walking in from the main street.  Up the alley, beer garden of a unique shape, giant pizza machine just staring you in the face inside. It is a good look.

SUMMARY: 

The Grand is much lauded. Awards aplenty, signature dish (Vincisgrassi) that cannot be removed, a look and feel to please everyone with the offer pitched at all budgets.

I suffer badly from pub envy. The Grand is the pub you want to be within walking distance from your home, where you can stand around the bar/ take a seat, and talk about the same things ad nauseam, the only difference being you know you are in something special.

One of the keys to success is stability in ownership and those in charge now have been there for over a decade. Establish a standard, hold your nerve, continue to deliver, and repeat business ensues.  They do it well.

The Grand in Richmond is a wonderful example of how great Melbourne pubs are.

SCORE: 15.5/20

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