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Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Victoria Hotel, Woodend

pub of the week

Victoria Hotel

67 High Street, Woodend.
95457 2721

When? July 5, 2019.

www.thevictoriawoodend.com.au

VENUE:

The Victoria is a sprawling double storey corner pub just a Tony Shaw torpedo from the Woodend station. Looking homestead glamorous from the street, inside is a very well run operation over a stack of space servicing good portioned pub grub, with a neat touch here and there.

Upstairs on a warm summer night on the verandah, allows you to take in the aesthetics while perhaps going your hardest on an antipasto platter with a craft beer, while down stairs in winter (July in Woodend is cold), the heat is comforting through the fireplaces dotting the bistro.

New owners have taken up the challenge of the Vic and keep a traditional long rectangular bar on the go with a small TAB but no Pokies, while the massive dining room, padded wooden seats, bare wooden tables with a better level of condiments, houses 100 easily.

There’s a ripper small bar at the front of the dining room (if you want to have one there), but have to love full table service if you want to sit at your table and take it all in.

The food is good pub grub, appealing to all ages and taste buds and priced to the mark.  But generosity of serve and attention to detail allow for the little extra. Importantly the deep fryer is used sparingly.

There were a couple of large social clubs dining that afternoon (Lions, Probus) and the place was near capacity. The young staff handled it so well.  The meal deals, especially Tuesday, are part of local connectivity, along with music, trivia and open mic.

Simply put, a good country pub, close enough to town, presenting a tidy offer.

FOOD:

The pub has more of a small  main feel to entrees with dishes such as Slow cooked pork belly, Asian  salad with peanuts (19) or Pan fried garlic prawns, capsicum, lemon, toasted bread (19)  represent more a share for 2 rather than a taster for 3-4.

Pizza is part of the set up ($19-24), but it is mains that go to a little level above such Red vermouth roasted chicken maryland, pumpkin, mushroom herb risotto (28) or Pumpkin risotto, mushrooms, baby spinach, fetta (24).

Tried was;

  • Victoria Pie of the Day. $25.  Fully cased   Beef and Red Wine pie, mash, winter veg was plentiful, tasty, and was more than a piece of puff over a filling.  Good
  • Roast Chicken, roast vegetables. $30.  This may seem to be a little high for the ROD, but the chook was lemon scented, the veg was great and importantly ‘roasted’, which isn’t as forthcoming on pub plates as you may think.
  • Lemon Meringue Pie. $10.  A dollop of cream, meringue/lemon was fine, the pastry just too thick. Suffice to say, nothing was left.

DRINK:

Support for locals on tap – Tooboorac Shearers, Nomad  Golden Ale for the pub , Harcourt Ciders , along with CD, Carlton Dry, Furphy.  No problems here and priced at 5.3/pot with a clean taste.  Further expanded by the bottle if that’s your preferred.

Wine list is kept to a minimum and again locals are supported e.g., Hanging Rock Rose, Zig Zag S/Blanc, Rowanston on the Track and one of Victoria’s best Granite Hills Riesling. Pricing around the standard.  Zig Zag chosen and most enjoyed – 11pg.

SERVICE:

For a day – Wednesday – that was packed, the young staff could not have been more attentive or courteous. Honesty with ..’there a bit of a wait’, but then supporting it with an update is something most pubs can adopt.

MUSIC LEVELS:

All good.  (Given the clientele blaring Metallica/Slipknot would have missed the mark. Just pleasant MOR.  7/10.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT:

Not really, except that if there was a pictorial of beautiful looking pubs in Australia, with the right reflection of a late afternoon sun in such a pretty town as Woodend, the Victoria’s inclusion in such would not be out of place.

SUMMARY:

There is no reason that soon enough, with smart operators in food and drink becoming more prominent that Woodend, like its nearby neighbours Kyneton, will be considered  a “Sunday destination’.

Proximity to Melbourne, plus the support of a region for its commitment to local produce, drives this and Woodend is central to this.  Indeed one of the first craft brewery pubs – The Holgate (formerly Keatings) just down from the Vic  – was one of the first to do that and succeed in spades.

But this is where the Victoria Hotel, has the chance to find its niche being a traditional pub (read as locals loving it) while embracing the region and gathering new friends.

Hopefully under the new management it is set for a good  and sustainable run.

SCORE: 13.5/20

pub of the week
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