Pub of the Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Park Hotel in Abbotsford
The Park Hotel
191 Nicholson Street, Abbotsford
When? October 12, 2018
Second review (first was circa 2012).
The Park Hotel has comeback with a complete bang! In the six years since my last visit – which includes a small period of non-trading – this pub is firing better than ever.
There have been some minor changes to the interior, such as a wall being removed and the prettying up of the beer garden, but the absolute banger is the food and drink which has been revamped.
The pricing for everything is very fair.
This is a genuine inner suburban, old school pub. The front bar, whilst dimly lit (but not dark) welcomes from the get-go and then as you move through to two large lounges to the beer garden (with galley exposed), light appears at the rear with a well-covered, newish look that is a great place to bring the family for a meal or a get together.
If you’ve got kids then message is clear: bring them, they are welcome; ditto your pet dog (but clearly on a leash). Surrounding residences give the appeal of eating in a communal backyard.
The hospitality is what you would expect from a pub in Abbotsford and from the range of beer (commercial and craft) through to well thought-out pub food, the rejuvenation of The Park is complete.
This is a pub to go to immediately.
Old favourites and clever new stuff means that what you think you’ve come to will soon be changed by a thorough read of the menu. A few sharing plates kicks things off with an old favourite – salt and pepper calamari, aioli, burnt lime ($16) – or new, say kimchi, cheese and Korean rice cakes gratin ($14). The curiously-named cheeseburger spring rolls is something I have not seen before on a pub menu.
Mains run from chicken parma, chips and cabbage salad ($22) to four burger options, including the ever present Philly cheesesteak ($19). A miso-glazed salmon with rice drop noodles, sesame, mirin and sake ($26) looked a delightful main.
This is interesting, modern pub grub.
Average prices for Entrees are $14, Mains, $25 and Desserts, $12.
Biryancini’s, $14, Good. Again an interesting take from The Park on your traditional arancinis, pairing spiced lamb rice balls with smoked yoghurt. Tasty and moreish. A good share,
Grilled Pork Neck, $24, Very Good. Beautiful, meaty, fatty pork sits atop cavolo nero, tangy salsa verde and a whole mess of delightful white beans. This was a nice alternative to the omnipresent pork belly and made again for excellent eating.
Rockling Schnitzel, $26, Not Bad. This different take on a popular fish comes with mushy peas, yoghurt, tartare and chips. Whilst the fish itself was fresh and tasty, the coating had a tendency to make it drier than it needed to be.
You turn up for one at the bar. Good. Beer is well presented and there is stack of craft heroes available such as Moon Dog Thunder Lips, Balter Strong Pale Ale, or their lighter Balter Captain Sensible (love the fact that they are honouring the lead singer of The Damned) or Fixation IPA. Mercifully, a lovely drop of Carlton Draught is also available for your choosing (it is in rare supply at a number of pubs in the inner suburbs).
Wine list comprises smaller, lesser-known providers and is priced around the $11/$50. Tried, was an excellent Pinot Grigio from the King Valley called ‘Dagger’ at $11 per glass.
SERVICE AND STYLE:
Even dining in the beer garden, table service was provided from attentive, happy and engaging young staff. No matter which part of the pub you decide to set up, I am confident you will like the offer.
In recent times, the fate of a number of inner suburban pubs has hung by a thread, as the majority cannot count on a bottom line contribution from the Pokies (The Park has neither TAB nor Pokies). However, those true believers in your local have essentially bet the farm that they will get the hospitality right.
Not only here but the nearby Retreat has recommenced trading and the response is definitely there to see; the people love it. You must have points of difference and The Park has in all aspects of its offer.
It has been said often that we should cherish these pubs as they are in short supply. Sentimentality does not pay the bills but an excellent experience will go a long way to sustaining these, with strong word of mouth.
The Park is a beauty.
Photo: The Park Hotel Facebook.