Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Warburton Hotel
2882 Warburton Hwy, Wesburn
July 21, 2018
Whenever you visit a location whose address starts with the number 2882, then you know you are somewhere out of town. (This eclipses the previous record held by the Bell Tavern Belgrave, whose address kicks off with 1645). This is a pub that is some distance from Seville, which is some distance from Croydon etc. etc.
The Warburton Hotel once traded as the Sam Knott Hotel, whose iconic image, with long white bearded at the bar and the caption ‘I allus has one at eleven”, was captured in that wonderful Carlton Draught poster of yesteryear.
There was a trading halt here some time ago, and new owners have taken over, locals to the area, and cleaned it out and offer a most appealing offer in a big pub, in the shadows of the ranges.
The sprawling good looking pub verandah invites and in essence is one large area, punctuated by a bar separating a neat, brick small front bar with wooden barrels to rest on, and the much larger bistro area, high triangular ceiling, spotlessly neat (more fireplaces ) which plays home to the nightlife of Westburn with plenty of live music. (Work is being done at rear of the pub). There is a large drive thru bottle shop.
No TAB/No Pokies.
The food is good pub grub, the wine list supports local growers, and it is an honest package from new chums doing their best.
There is a small shrine inside to the legend of Sam Knott of a small wood carving, but that too is shrouded in intrigue. (see below). Pictures of the Sam Knott lookalike competition adorn the brick walls.
Good fun, good pub doing its best.
The menu reads well.
Starters include Middle Eastern Cauliflower Popcorn, plum & tamarind dipping sauce (8.5), Bruschetta of roasted vine ripened heirloom tomato, Spanish onion salsa, Yarra Valley dairy feta Pancetta (13.5) or Arancini Balls of Pumpkin, pine nut and feta with a green bean & seeded mustard salsa (11).
From the mains there are pub favorites mixed in with some sharper meals such as Trio Of Sliders – Pulled Pork & Slaw Sliders – $22, Portobello Mushroom Burger, zucchini, eggplant, capsicum, halloum (18) with the top price a Rib Eye, 500g, Yarra Valley grass fed beef, chips, salad, and a sauce (42).
Note; If coming for lunch earlier in week, choice may be limited.
Entree $12, Mains $24, Desserts $9.
TRIED: (Lunch special 2 items)
Steak Sandwich, chips. $16. Not bad. Good enjoyable lunch with a turkish roll surrounding a 150g piece of Rump, good char, with all the full support cast and made for a pleasant, easy to knock over meal.
Chicken Parma, chips, salad $17 (lunch special). Not bad. If you could envisage this pub fav, sitting right in the middle of parmas for size, taste, appeal, this one was bang in the middle!!
Garlic Prawns, filo basket, jasmine rice. $28. Good. The casing held in a well balanced creamy garlic sauce, the prawns (10) were fresh and well cooked; good cooking in a country pub.
Carlton D, unsurprisingly, was the main tap here (Great Northern also) and while the glassware was well looked after and taste was fine, it was just a fraction under carbonated which meant the beer didn’t linger in the glass for any great length.
Loved the wine list. When travelling out of the CBD, you hope for the pub to embrace the local area with a range that is different to the run of the mill. Full marks here as, almost exclusively, features yarra valley and upper yarra offerings. This is not a join the dots list as drops are sourced from Hoddles Creek, (Pinot N, tried at $9pg//43/bottle and good). Yarra Junction, Coldstream, Yellingbo are some of the others. .
Good on them.
SERVICE AND STYLE:
It is country pub. Happy to see you, chatty, welcoming. Nice to know that people are still eager to find out about you, how’s it going etc. Straight up and down, and uncomplicated.
Nice job done by the new owners and it reminds me – yet again – that the faults of previous owners as judged in forums and review sites, carries through until eternity. This is plain unfair as these new owners have come in, planted their footprint on the place and try to win over a new base while working overtime to win back those who have strayed.
This version of the Warburton is fine with its steady as she goes offer.
But there is a mystery to the pub, which locals believe will be resolved. The larger wood carving of Sam Knott, which proudly stood outside the pub went missing (along with the pub bell) earlier this year. This is an iconic australian pub image of the bearded white man and justice must be completed with its return and the miscreant, to quote The Mikado..” let the punishment fit the crime”.
Unless the evidence has been burned, here is a message. The pub is closing in. Under the cloak of darkness, it’s best to return old Sam.
The shame would be too much to bear.