Scorcher reviews: Noojee Hotel — ‘country pub classic with a couple of curveballs’
411 Mt Baw Baw Tourist Rd, Noojee
I visited a town this week that I’d never been to before and it absolutely charmed the pants off me.
With a population of just 160, the hamlet of Noojee, a gorgeous little spot on the doorstep of Mt Baw Baw, may be a sleepy place but it awoke in me a desire to get to country Victoria more this summer.
The town revolves around its central character, the Noojee pub, which has been the beating heart of the community since it first opened in 1925.
The Noojee pub – or the Nooj as locals call it – sits on a bend in the road and backs on to a patch of God’s own country. The pub’s veranda overlooks a babbling creek that winds its way through a forest of mountain ash, a reminder of the town’s timber industry past.
For the folk of Noojee the pub is legendary. It has withstood the threat of bushfire and periods of dwindling prosperity over its near 100-year lifetime, and at different stages has served as a makeshift school, community centre and local store.
The food offering could best be described as ‘country pub classic with a couple of curveballs’. Chicken parmigiana makes an appearance, of course. I dare say there would be a riot if a country pub failed to have a parma on its menu.
As this is trout country it makes sense to start off with a serving of the trout croquettes (the Alpine Trout Farm is just down the road). These cigar-sized croquettes of trout, lemon, parmesan and herbed potato come with a dill aioli and crisp salad and are an easy sharable snack before the main event.
For those who like their parmas in hand-held form, the parmigiana burger with two types of cheese, ham, Napoli sauce and mayo in a brioche bun is grouse and has been a roaring success since its inclusion on the menu a year ago.
Also on offer at the Nooj are 11 traditional pizzas, steaks done on the grill, fish and chips, beef schnitzel, chicken Kiev, lamb cutlets, lemon and pepper squid…. all the usual suspects. Plus, a Thai beef salad, an open lamb souva and spaghetti meatballs just to keep you on your toes.
The Nooj is very costumer orientated. There are pet highland cows and a trampoline for the kids and Carlton Draught and Melbourne Bitter on tap for the adults and I’m not ashamed to say that I had a go at all of it.
I’ve spent a lot of time in friendly country pubs over the journey but here my charm-o-metre went into overload. Sitting out the back of the pub, sipping on a pint of beer, with my face in the sun and my feet in the cool stream, I caught myself saying out loud: “How’s the serenity?”
I’m notching this up as my most memorable pub experience.