Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Sandringham Hotel
118 Beach Road, Sandringham.
When? May 3, 2019.
The Sandringham Hotel has been a big hitter in the southern suburban pub scene for years and with its proximity to both the beach and the shopping centre, makes it a thriving hub for community.
Owned as part of the massive ALH/Woolworths portfolio of pubs, you can be excused for presuming it’s pokies, TAB, and some UFC.
Big place for a family meal that doesn’t challenge and a place to teach your kids to park on Sunday mornings before they go their licence.
And for sure it’s all that. But there are a few of this group’s pubs that have been ramped up to belie that stereotype and the Sandy is one of them.
Slightly elevated on the Bay/Beach corner, the pub is large-ish (parking tight) and split into two areas with the public bar, tab, pokies, pool tables, TV Sports closer to Bay St and the newly created Grillhouse with its brown chairs, carpets, panels dominating, seating a couple of hundred and doing a better level of pub food.
There’s a bit of dash in the menu, some nice daily specials and afeel to the pub that is relaxed.
Port Phillip Bay over the road and on warm days, a ripper spot in the South to congregate.
The choice for pubs down this way is not as plentiful as the North and West, but in spite of other pubs going to a new life, the Sandy kicks on rather well.
Most of the ALH group have a common menu of some breads/calamari/satay for starters, pasta, chicken and steaks for mains with a cake or two as dessert. So it was refreshing to see this kitchen given a bit more licence. Chicken Bao Buns, Korean Beef Tacos as entrees, Broccolini Linguine, Buddha Bowl for mains going lean and green. Prices remain fair and it genuinely makes for a change than most of its cousins. Tried was;
- Prawn Spring Rolls, coriander, nahm jim sauce. $12. Beaut starter with a batch of prawns rolls arriving packed, well seasoned with a lovely biting sauce, elevated by use of lime. Really good.
- Flathead fillets, chips, salad, $24. A couple of big pieces arrive, with the fish being ultra fresh and tasty (i.e not frozen and devoid of flavour), just let down (marginal) by a batter that was a tad floury.
- 300g Rump. C&S. $24. My preference, like most, is for a thick cut of beef, yet ALH pubs insist on supplying them thinner and longer. There is a nice, charry flavour for sure, but heaven help you if you wanted one rare.
Commercial beer, mainly CUB, on tap but again with the right attention to detail means an enjoyable, cold pot (5.3) from the big tanks slaked the thirst. VB, Carlton Dry, Stella flesh it out, with Brick Lane, Byron Bay, 4 Pines proving the crafT option. (More extensive in bottles).
Same deal to a point with Treasury Wines doing some of the heavy lifting on the wine list, e.g., T’Gallant, Leo Buring 8.5pg//38/bottle, Jacobs Creek. All reliable, all well known. Tried was Vasse Felix Sem/Sav/Blanc – $9/gl.
Genuinely better level of service here in the Grill House. The manager went about this large space by ensuring everything was fine, anything she could do to help etc., and basically made everyone at ease. In venues of this size, that is an artform. You need someone in charge and visible. Well done.
7/10. Not too intrusive on a delightful autumn day. Best described as FM friendly or to use the sporting analogy – cricket – the soundtrack was 10 overs, 2 maidens, 0/34.
Sit outside, look over Beach Road, and take in the view. This is truly one of the great vistas of the bay and the elevation is sufficient to take it all in.
Many years have passed since I have been here and the work that has been done suits this bayside area very well.
Let’s face it, when you have the Bay but 50 metres away, utilise the facility. Credit to them, they do.
Which brings me to a hobby horse with the gargantuan ALH/Woolworths portfolio of pubs. (Think BWS and you got it). For a business that offers an homogenised offer over so many pubs of its group, when they pull out the stops (Pascoe Vale Hotel is another), these are great, friendly, modern pubs to get together and enjoy the facility.
Love some more like the Sandringham in the burbs please.