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Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Prince Alfred Hotel

Prince Alfred Hotel

191 Grattan St., Carlton
9427 0615

VENUE:

Just the mere mention that the Prince Alfred is back trading surely brings a tear to the eyes of Melbourne Uni’s past (and present).

Dormant for over 2 years in thIs decade, PA’s has come back with a bang and a brand near addition – A large rooftop bar looking over Grattan St back at Melbourne U.  Don’t be fooled with the exterior: it remains as is, but inside it’s a whole new look.

What you would expect to find from a ‘Uni Pub’, a badge always worn with honour, is here.   Uni night – Wednesday – with 2 for 1 drinks later in the evening, daily specials of fully plated meals, Thursday trivia ( reckon you need an ATAR of 97 to be competitive methinks) are just some of the traditions maintained.

Food is well priced and genuine points of difference. Wine can be a little higher priced but generally falls within the $10pg-$45pb range.

New fixtures and fittings if you want a bit of peace and quiet, but on a Thursday lunch, the joint was humming as the staff stood up to the challenge so well.

All days – bar Sundays for functions only – for pub trading, PA’s is opening early for its cafe service to office workers also weekdays from 730am.. 

PA’s is back and set for a long run. The Cars said it best:  Let the Good Times roll.

FOOD:

In keeping with collegiate spirit, the pub runs 4 days of fully plated specials all under $20.   Most of the food is well priced, and a specials board outlines 4 or 5 meals each day, e.g., Beef Cheek, Rocket/pear Salad, braised sprouts, jus, $29.  Menu changes constantly*

Tried was;

  • Rodriguez Chorizo, Haloumi, PA’s  sherry and romesco. $16. Good starter for sure with the spices and meat working well together.  Easy eating,
  • 400g Gippsland T-Bone, mash and veg.  One of the specials of the day, the serving size was overly generous, but was a fine representation of what the pub’s about,
  • Poached chicken, asian slaw, chilli/ginger dressing.  $22. Big flavours, big serve of chook, cashews enhance the crunch.  Not often it’s salad for lunch, but if they have this one on, it’s well worth it.

DRINK:

The pub has a vast choice on tap, and takes in Carlton Draught unpasteurised on tap. 5.5. Well presented. Goose IPA, Pirate Life, Melbourne Bitter, 4 Pines, Mercury are some of the choices. 

Wine list is around the mark and constantly changes and dares to be different. Are you Game? Silence of the Lambs,  Farm to Table are some of the smaller labels available.

SERVICE:

Very good. It was so busy on this day, as staff ran orders to the table while making sure no one was kept waiting.  All with a youthful exuberance of people who wanted to be here. PA’s cafe opens early – 730am – but no signs of fatigue around lunch.

MUSIC LEVELS:

Can’t really say as the joint was jumping at a Thursday lunch. Whatever it was remains a mystery although to see some many in a pub, lining the bar, would be envied by all in hospitality.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT:

Basically the inside of the pub.  Anyone who has any knowledge of the pub wouldn’t recognise it.   With going up the only option for the inner city, the rooftop bar is very well set out, almost as big as the downstairs main bar.

SUMMARY:

With all of the new activity for Melbourne’s underground rail loop taking place at the western end of Grattan, there is a tendency to avoid that street.   In doing so, however, a joy of Melbourne is overlooked in a reminiscence or two , of a few pots at PA’s before Skyhooks played at Storey Hall. 

It still has that Uni feel, only now is times better after a long layoff, a refurb and a smackingly great rooftop bar.  Food and drink ramped up, it is a happy place.


I look around at the ages vary, but all share something in common. The Uni over the road. Nostalgia brimming, Alphaville’s monster worldwide hit sums up The Prince Alfred:  Forever Young.

SCORE: 13.5

MML
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