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Pub Of The Week: Water Rat Hotel, South Melbourne

Pub: Water Rat Hotel.

Where: The corner of Park and Moray Streets, South Melbourne.

Phone: 9686 1980

Score: 14/20

When: June 30, 2017.

Internet: www.thewaterrathotel.com.au

VENUE

Third review.  (last circa 2010).  The Water Rat has worn many faces over its extensive life as a ‘hard man’s’  hotel, afl players hangout, gastro/high end diner to today’s offer of a modern, clean and very functional hotel.

It has had some cosmetic changes since my last visit, but the ground floor bar is very tidy, the surrounding furniture of blondwood tables/chair, leather lounges set an easy going tone with the separate dining room with fireplace for something more formal (although one menu prevails).

No TAB/No pokies.

Lovely first floor dining room for functions/business overlooks the city skyline and put together this is a handsome package.

Food and drink has been pared back so the big heavily worked dishes are long gone, replaced by a more commonplace offer of easy going, price friendly mains. For sure they have some more substantial dishes, but if you want a well priced, well presented burger/pasta, then the Rat will accommodate.

Pricing is about the mark, the vibe is friendly and the background music is put on at a sensible level. Definitely appealing to a working female demographic, the pub is travelling nicely and even on a bitterly cold Tuesday lunch recently, the female to male ratio was 3:1.

Well done to the pub trading every day – noon to very late.

In a heavily competitive market, this new offer from the Water Rat more than holds its own.

MENU

Snacks/shares/burgers, all nicely ramped up is the offer from the Water Rat. Popcorn chicken, croquettes, ramped up fries for the beer food, 5 burgers around the $20-22 mark of varying food stuffs, but if it’s a steak then flat iron/eye/new york strip for 28 upwards.

A couple of fish specials and a 3 cheese parma ($24) and you have the idea. The menu reads appealingly, has sufficient choice to satisfy, and given the surroundings, makes for a pleasant space to soicise for a few hours.

Entrees $12, mains $24, desserts $14

TRIED

Mac n Cheese croquettes. 5/serve $11.  Good. Bigger than normal, good filling, hot, clean flavours. Nice start.

Wagyu Cheese burger and fries.  $15 (lunch special).  Good. Distinctive taste of wagyu in a large pattie (180-200g), ripper fires on a brioche, this was chosen from lunch special menu and is very fair shopping.

Fish Special. Very Good. $30. Snapper. Lovely thick tile of snapper, crispy skin, enhanced by a great mix of braised leek and cauliflower puree.  Good pub fish of the day.

DRINK

Beer is commercial and craft. Carlton D was very good at a friendly 4.5/pot. Big tick to the staff who did the glassware. Tried also was the very good – second week in a row – Stomping Ground , One eyed IPA, clean, rich and again at a friendly 5.5/pot, which for craft is good shopping. The wine list is small, doesn’t run to a formula and is charged at the now accepted rate (if you want decent) of $9/glass. Mr. Mick Riesling was a good option at that price.

SERVICE AND STYLE

Very good crew working this day.  Happy to chat, explain the menu, provide table service and above all give off an air of a real team wanting to serve.  Pub cleanliness is a winner here too.

SUMMARY

The Water Rat is a neat pub providing an offer that sits bang in the middle of what you’d expect from a pub in 2017. Food and drink appeal, and the pricing for what you get is spot on.

Above all, it has created  – and this is staff driven – a welcoming vibe so if you just want to have one or two for a catch up or a big family function, you will get that attention to detail that only a local, owner/operator pub can provide.

No faults here, a good stayer in the South Melbourne precinct that I think, after 3 visits over 20 years, has all moving parts going as smoothly as ever.

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