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Pub Of The Week: Water Rat Hotel, South Melbourne

Neil Mitchell
Article image for 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.



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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.

Neil Mitchell