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Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Union Club Hotel

pub of the week

Union Club Hotel

Corner Gore & Webb Streets, Fitzroy
9417 2926

When? March 22, 2019
www.unionclubhotel.com.au

VENUE:

The Union Club is one of those pubs that when you walk in your first thought is ‘can I have one of these in my suburb?’.

What strikes you is how quiet the street is with its proximity to Smith St, as if the pub has an invisible set of Sennheiser noise reducers wrapped around it. You look at the pub from the outside, all brick and well, old, and step inside to be transported back to a Melbourne of the 60’s.

The bar is a smallish circular affair so two sides can be serviced without  the impediment of a wall to negotiate.  One side,  room for say 10,  and the other larger public area which houses a pool table, fireplace, and a pinball machine.

The old world dining room is to the left, just as your childhood recalls. To the rear you head through to a tree laden beer garden, and an elevated roof deck bar peering over the Fitzroy roofline.

And any pub that retains leadlight as a feature gets an bit of love.

Food is good pub grub, smallish in choice, and has some nice touches.

Specials during the week make it even cheaper.

Unfortunately the sole letdown was the tap beer. Can’t say why as I have been here before, but not that day. No TAB/No Pokies.

It remains a treasure on Melbourne’s shrinking inner suburban pub  landscape so the beer was an anomaly for sure. But a bad one. Happy to return (again) and resample.

Be different and head there; it’s a beauty.

FOOD:

Here’s where the menu provides a point of difference. Mushroom and Haloumi Burger, Mexican Eggplant Parma, Nepalese Dahl w/chickpea battered cauliflower for something different, (all priced around the $20 mark).

But there’s some pub fish and chips (22), or 300g Black Angus P’House (30). Some entrees of southern fried chicken, trio of dips to start all fairly priced.

Tried was;

  • House burger, own sauce, aged cheddar, bacon, lettuce, tomato, chips $15 on special. (Normally 20).  Good sized pattie, very fair price, all good.
  • Pizza, thin base, with ham, olives, mozzarella, red onion. $10  (normally $15). Mid sized, good toppings, and easily finished off.

DRINK:

Nice mix of new and old with long time favourites Carlton D and Melbourne B always in demand. Tried both and both failed to impress. The glassware did not hold the beer and became flat very quickly. Not ideal and moreover why this staple of a pub like this missed by such a wide mark.

The wine list is bang on fair and unders by comparison to other pubs. Love that. DeBortoli Willowglen is its first pour and at $8/28/bottle and is very good shopping.  So too is the crazily underpriced (by quality) Chrismont Riesling at $8.5/34/bottle. Two reliable wines amongst a compact menu that gives bang for the buck.

SERVICE:

Prompt and friendly from the staff, served with an engaging courtesy. The pub has a wonderful reputation of being an “all things to all people” feel, and this is driven by the staff.

MUSIC LEVELS:

New category.  Today was a 8.5/10.  Good. Excellent soundtrack, right levels, heavily 60s British.  You knew the songs:  You knew the artists.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT:

The old prints of Melbourne, with a few depicting one of our greatest talents, a very young Graham Kennedy.  The skyline really looked like that? Yep..  Also a couple of winning photo finishes from the greyhounds at Olympic Park.  Not sure of the relevance but curiously they work together.

SUMMARY:

The Union Club is a wonderful pub.  Does it deserve iconic tag?  In my mind it is an unequivocal yes. May pubs like this reign forever.

But it cannot go unnoticed the quality of the beer however, for on this day, it wasn’t up to scratch. Three of us in the party had (partially) one each and that was that.

No doubt this was an aberration having sampled before without issue. Will be back; the Union Club’s that good.

SCORE: 12/20

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