Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Victoria Hotel, Footscray
43 Victoria Street, Footscray.
When? July 19, 2019.
In the shadows of Middle Footscray station (fun fact: The only thing in common that Footscray and Brighton share is the word Middle in station names. The commonality ends there), is the Victoria Hotel,one of the rare breed of hotel with an eponymous second reference.
Aka Harts, (the long time family that ran it), the Vic was a bastion for the old time barfly to have a beer, bet, and perhaps purchase a tele), before heading up a side street to the footy and watch the mighty Dogs.
The locals like/d it that way.
Times change and the desirability of this suburb skyrockets. Up the road the Plough reopened a few years back and goes so well. The Station Hotel is another big hitter.
At the Victoria a good trick is achieved. Sure it has been gussied up – new bar, different beer, sandblasted walls, decluttered, but not so much to scare the locals. Essentially the Vic has always been two rooms; big bar, big dining room which still resembles a 60s canteen. (There’s a smallish outside area/beer garden).
Early indicators are that the change is well received, a sentiment I have to agree with after a recent visit.
Modern pub menu, priced to the mark, with some old pub favourites tricked up. Bangers and Mash comes with a kale mash, the free range parma combines mozzarella and bocconcini as part of the package. Black pudding and pork scotch egg? $14, with apple and chutney. As the fine folk at Aldi say: Good. Different.
- Pan seared scallops, pancetta, celeriac and parsnips puree, lemon butter. $22. Four scallops, that beautiful trick of cooked but just translucent, fresh, with a tasty support cast,
- Grilled herb Chicken wrapped in prosciutto, chats, beans, lemon sauce. $28. From the specials list that night, and was a different and interesting take on the humble chook. Good eating, very good potatoes,
- Lamb vindaloo, pappadums, rice, mango chutney, mint yoghurt. $25, Again from the specials, nice dish, bit more heat for mine (Pubs refuse to go full whack when doing curry), but well portioned.
Congrats to the Vic for continuing the supply of CD. With new, younger operators entering the fray, the temptation is to ‘out with the old, in with the new’, and take this tap from supply and overload with craft. If your market eschews CD, then go ahead and leave it out (can’t understand why but to each). Here I believe the mix is right with craft from Hop Nation Stout, Fixation IPA part of a mix.
Compact, interesting, pricey are my 3 descriptors when visiting (Jul19). Airlie Bank Cab Franc (11), Tarrawarra Chard (13) were tried and always enjoyed.
Order at the bar for food and drinks, engaging young staff either behind the jump or working the tables. Good vibe in there.
8/10. Pretty good indie offerings from local Melbourne bands, played at the right level (for me). More pubs please support this attitude.
Not anything out of the ordinary, but just the change for what existed as to what is presented now. You do ask.. “Is this the pub I went to pre-footy?’
The pub gentrification of Footscray is all but complete with the Victoria moving with the times and demographic of the area. Indeed only the Courthouse and Footscray Hotels. (I exclude the Mona as its address is Seddon – and still a beauty).
Smart though are the new operators as the revamp still retains its old barfly charm, but they have brought the interior into the now. There are those who will rail against this, but the tide of change is unstoppable and I suspect the naysayers had taken a position before sampling. It’s still worth going there for one.
The Vic compares most favourably with most other pubs in the immediate area and the wider inner ‘burbs.