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Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard’s second quarter review!

pub of the week
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DeBortoli Pubs of the Month – 2nd Quarter 2019

Review date: 27 September 2019


A few matters to address here and nominate 4 more pubs for consideration to the DeBortoli Pub of the year for 2019.

First, congratulations to the Tooboorac Hotel. This beautiful old  pub come to my attention back in 2008, with an offer that included its own (small) brewery of 4 styles of beer, each carrying the pub’s name.  It also had these wonderful fully encased Pies that were large, tasty – the Rabbit Ramble the standout – and made for a great pub meal.  So popular, the pub made a space for the sale of the Pies alone, (7.5 but well worth it) along with some sauces/chutneys. Now the pies are available in Melbourne and their ship is located at 143 Elgin St., Carlton and will also feature some of their fine beers.

Second, it is a well done and welcome at the Robbie Burns Hotel, Smith St., Abbotsford.  Around 12 months ago, this unique pub, specialising in the food and drink of many Spanish regions, decided to call it a day after nearly 30 years.  Trailblazing the time, it became a much loved landmark on the pub scene.  Not to be concerned however as new operators with long and successful records, are maintaining the standards set, this time with an Italian leaning menu that reads brilliantly.  Good luck to them.

Third. Some of the really big pubs in the ‘burbs are  trying to lift their offers and to be fair trying to break the nexus of ..’its only a pokies pub’ will prove difficult. But with two recent examples – Shoppingtown and York on Lilydale seem to have a greater autonomy freedom in the food and drink that will encourage people to sample.

The first monthly nominations from February to May were;

  • Feb: Retreat Hotel, Abbotsford.
  • March: Bleakhouse Hotel, Albert Park.
  • April/May: Drums Hotel, Coburg.

The second set of nominations are;

  • June: Village Belle, St Kilda: Plenty spent of the favourite of St Kilda and it is worth it. The brilliant front bar, lovely green atrium dining, food and drink specials, this has achieved the neat trick of facelist – love the emerald green tiling – and not scaring the locals away.
  • July: Victoria, Footscray: Very much similar comments to the VB above. Plenty spent, but the bar still retains that roguish Footscray charm of its antecedents.  Moving with the times and demographics, this Victoria/Harts has succeeded.
  • August: Charles Weston Brunswick: Somehow there are pubs that just work, in spite of changing times and names. The CWH is confirmation of the truism of never judging a book by….This pub has made the complex art of running a pub look easy (and it ain’t).
  • September: Botanical, Sth Yarra: After all these years, a visit allayed any fears that there isn’t enough ‘pub’ in the Bot, but the owners of the much loved Grosvenor make sure it is.  Indeed its only drawback is that it may be too pretty. Great experience in a Melbourne pub.


Good quarter for the pubs, reinforcing my view that it is Melbourne, not Sydney that does the pub thing better, be it in the inner suburbs or those in the ‘burbs.  I obsess about the quality/variation in taste of beer between taps, but all of these pubs served it up as it should!

Highlight of the quarter was the Brunswick Owls Knitting Group. You see unique thing happen ina pub. That was one of the stranger ones.  Good luck to them.

All correspondence via email is read and when an answer is needed I will get back to you. All other other lifestyle reviews/recipes are contained at

Please keep comments and suggestions coming to

Many thanks to the continued support of Vince Gurcuillo and team at DeBortoli Croydon.

pub of the week