Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Shoppingtown Hotel, Doncaster
19 Williamsons Road, Doncaster.
When? September 13, 2019.
Another massive piece of the Woolies/ALH, “Shoppo”, in the shadows of the equally monolithic Westfield Doncaster, has been a mainstay of the outer suburban ‘big barn’ era although this suburb barely resembles any such moniker nowadays.
The pub of many parts is set well below the main road overhead and has that 60s look about it. Not only operating as a pub, its vastness takes in conferences, functions and accommodation.
The pub looks good inside in a sort of “Kath and Kim’ kind of way, and spreading out in your own piece of landscape is not a problem.
Running to the established ALH formula – Pokies, TAB, Sports bar, live music shows, UFC, it would be folly to dismiss this as just another pub. The menu doesn’t run to the ‘seen one, seen ‘em all’ formula, and clearly the kitchen is allowed some freedom and it works. The dining room is vast, comprising two large working bars, but has one of the best vistas of Melbourne outside..
The Shoppingtown, again like others in the portfolio of pubs, has really ramped up the live music. It also provides a courtesy bus within 5kms so no need for the car. Good on them.
And trading 20 hours //7 days a week so if there’s a sport you are up for, then the likelihood it will be on. Live. If out late, the aforesaid bus service is there for the taking.
The Shoppingtown is certainly one of the better ALH pubs and well worth spending time there. A good representation of how all big pubs can operate.
Some excellent specials provided the variation that gives the Shoppo a tiny edge over its peers. For sure there’s the bread, chicken ribs, calamari, but Salted Cod croquettes or Pea and Haloumi Fritters in the entrees are different to the standard.
The main favourites are here as well – steak, parma, pasta, – but Vietnamese Beef salad, Grilled Snapper w/prawn chimichurri salsa, Buddha Bowls make appearances. This can be replicated across their network if the will is there.
- Duck spring rolls, (4/$10), w/hoisin. Good size, plenty of meat, a constant favourite entree in pubs, works well
- Honey Glazed duck, oven roasted, fried rice, sauteed broccolini, Fried rice. $27. From the specials, it was a moist, substantial plate of duck, loved the broccolini, rice was there to mop up,
- Lamb shank, mash, veg. $20. (snrs menu, normally $26). Pub favourite, no faults, big meaty shank to enjoy and gnaw.
Fairly typical range, comprising mainly CUB product, but it was well presented and had good, clean, lines. It certainly passed the two tap test – trying the same from different places – in a venue to determine how carefully the staff tend to each bar as far as beer is concerned.
Wine follows the Treasury portfolio but there is always a special on – again Pepperjack and a very fair price of $8/12/34 for 150/250ml/bottle. Catalina Sounds S/B, very popular, weighs in under $40. In a full retail sense that is value.
Very much mail it in, spotify, pleasant lunchtime setting please. 7/10. No intrusion.
The Shoppingtown does brisk business day and night but the staff, almost exclusively female in managers and staff roles, made sure the tables were well attended.
The perimeter beer patio is something genuinely special. As you look from the east back toward town, above the nearby housing in a well covered green space, it’s hard to believe that Doncaster was considered an outer suburb once. This is one of the more desirable vistas in publife Melbourne.
The Shoppingtown is somewhat of an oddity, being such a massive pub so close to town and in a pub sense in the metaphorical shadows of groovy Collingwood/Abbotsford.
It does a steady but better line of food and drink that the standard Woolworths/ALH pubs provide, no doubt aided by the great location, and in part by its history. As is the case, meal deals are available right throughout the week, including a 1:1 on Mondays. There is good shopping to be had.
The Shoppingtown/Shoppo hotel ticks over nicely and safely.