Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Montague Hotel, South Melbourne
Where? 355 Park Street, South Melbourne.
When? June 12, 2020
The Montague Hotel, aka The Montague Neighbourhood eatery, sits impressively on the corner of Park / Montague in downtown South Melbourne and is afforded two advantages with plenty of street parking and a tram that stops right outside the pub.
The pub is essentially two rooms, with the large footpath of quiet Park St., to socialise as its third option. The front bar uses its space adroitly, with benches/tables to eat, drink or have a read (the pub does a good line in papers and magazines) but sufficient room exists to have a group stand around and enjoy one, with the neat dining room to the side being the main focus of eating.
One menu throughout and it is smart pub dining and drinking.
The new owners – there has been a few over the past decade – is the Canny Family, operators of one of Ballarat favourite pubs, the Red Lion – so again this incarnation of the Montague is in good hands.
Given the changes of management in running this beauty, it is hoped the new team crack the code and make it a long lasting success which it should be.
Interesting offerings on a smallish menu, supported by daily specials. All food is carefully worked out and has points of difference. It is not a pub that ticks a box and the menus appeal.
Falafel, beetroot tzatziki w/flatbread (13), or an entrée of Curried Potato cakes, eggplant kasundi (12) are a couple of starters from a field of 8 or 9.
The Montague offers three steaks, including an O’Connor Porterhouse, chips and salad, for $30, discounted by $10 on Thursdays. Pork and fennel snags, mash, peas, red onion jam is $25, or Linguini, basil pesto, edamame, ricotta salad, toasted almonds is $28. The Sunday roast, done from scratch, (a rarity in Melbourne Pubs), is $25, much to the delight of those who have sampled. The pub is really proud of how they present their roasts.
The taps stuck mainly to the Carlton portfolio but this is exactly how all beer should be presented: in glasses that have been properly treated to retain the lace on the inside, and the taste is fresh and unadulterated.
If your pub doesn’t present like this, every time, then they don’t give a stuff about the customer.
Wine list, price and quality cover a huge landscape from $50/bottle for a Shaw and Smith S/B, to $180 for Penfolds Magill Shiraz. Av. glass price is $11. This is about the mean, in a pub, in 2020.
- Pan seared scallops, w/ smoked tomato purée. $15/4. Just warm, translucent and fresh, the flesh combined with purée teamed excellently to make a good starter.
- Chicken Parma, chips, salad (special $17 Wednesdays, normally 25). Bargain at the price. Made on the premises, big piece of chook, support cast was above the norm, and the $8 shave made it a bargain.
- Indian style battered fish, yoghurt tartare, chips, green salad. $28. Now this was a pub staple elevated above the norm. Two blindingly white, thick hot fillets of Rockling arrive in a slightly yellowish casing, due to the introduction of curry powder into the batter. It works, it doesn’t overpower and with the yoghurt tartare, it comes together so well. Clever.
This was to be the review with Neil that was done as news of COVID-19 took hold. The menu, by and large, remains the same in offer and pricing. Two things about this pub are foremost with me;
- This is an excellent pub but since 2010 has had at least 4 operators in there, all of whom had a great offer. More than any other pub in Melbourne, this intrigues me why the turnover of clever pub people has been what it has in there. Is it the wrong location – caught (sort of ) between South Melbourne/Albert Park? Always been a quieter pub – in spite of location and great offer – and the demographic hasn’t changed?
- Like so many others, how/what will trade be like after such a hiatus.
The Montague was starting to hit its straps as it gathered a loyal following and with a very solid pub offer. I hope that it continues recapture that impetus when it recommences fuller trading.