Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Railway Hotel
280 Ferrars Street, South Melbourne.
Visited on February 23, 2018.
Second Review. (last circa 2008)
After such a long absence, the expectation is that someone will have gussied up the beautiful Railway Hotel in Ferrars St. and gone will be the glorious nod to the past.
Wrong. Thankfully wrong.
The wonderful large and winding bar is the feature. Take a spot: anonymity is assured. To the side is a dedicated parlour, highlighted by lovely old pool tables. Through to the elegant dining room with transparent roof (served by a back bar) and then to the mini tahitian village, straw huts and all, that doubles as a beer garden.
This is how it was remembered and remains cryogenically frozen today. The Railway just works on all levels, the most basic and important to me is a place of community and is longingly spoked about by locals.
The modern day change agent ascribes to the idiom..’if you are standing still, you are falling behind’.
Memo to the owners of the Railway now and in the future. Stand Still.
Fairly brief but on point menu. Chicken strips, popcorn pork, croquettes make interesting reading and if you like, the pub will put a mixed ‘chatter’ plate of a number of these entrees. ($38).
Mains are tricked up a little but won’t intimidate. From the “2 hands” section, burgers/ beef, chicken//steak sanga weigh in around $20, while the Steak, Cheese, Bacon pie is $27. Much cheaper are a number of these on certain days of the week. (Pies on Thursday are $15). A Hopkins River 250g Eye Fillet is the chart topper at $35.
Entrees $10, mains $26, desserts not really.
Hot Chicken wings ($1/ea)//Croquettes of Spicy Potato and spring onion $9. Good flavours for both of these entrees, fairly priced. Of the 2, the wings covered the croquettes.
BBQ Brisket. $33. Good. Signature dish of the pub, a big slab of meaty, moist, fatty brisket, is char grilled, slow cooked, (12 hours in pub’s masterstick) and is insanely rich so you have to like this cut of meat. Sweet potato chips and slaw make for a different support team, but I can see why this is a favorite of the pub.
Fish and Chips. $23. Very Good. Rockling fillets, hot, fleshy, generous in size , beer battered (golden ale used and works) with homemade tartare, standard F&C’s, makes this the right dish at the right pub price.
Pub takes a slightly different path to beer with interesting offers from Coopers (they offer more than just the legendary pale) Stone and Wood (arguably the most popular now that falls into the craft category) and Furphy. Some lesser known brands available. Wines come from a variety of producers – large and small – and fit into the median pub price of $10g//45/bottle.
SERVICE AND STYLE:
On a quiet day, the staff was pleasant and attentive, with an affection for this legendary pub that is genuine. Drinks were brought to the table – nice – which confirmed another fine, happy day here.
After all of time, the adage of the ’more things change, the more they stay the same’. There isn’t a great deal that should be done here as it has stood the test of time and it is popular.
The area lends itself to a comfortable and traditional offer and combined with the beer garden that is genuinely unique, the Railway can chart a steady course without the need to introduce faux gimmickry.
Good pub, Good times. The Railway rolls on.