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Scorcher reviews: Paradise Valley Hotel — ‘a cracking day trip destination’

Paradise Valley Hotel
249 Belgrave-Gembrook Rd
Clematis, VIC
Phone: 5968 4037

I wasn’t supposed to have lunch at the Paradise Valley Hotel in the Dandenongs this week.

A mix-up with my booking saw me rock up at my intended destination, an Asian restaurant in Upwey, only to discover a sign on the door that read: ‘Closed for private function’. That’s strange, I thought, I hadn’t recalled booking out the entire restaurant.

I jest. Of course I hadn’t. But this was no laughing matter. I looked through the window forlornly at the empty tables while stroking my empty stomach. “What a waste of a trip,” I said to my lunch buddy. “What are we going to do now?”

But we weren’t about to let this little mishap get us down. The Dandenong Ranges are peppered with good places to eat so we hightailed it in search of one.

A 15-minute drive up the road from Upwey, on the Belgrave-Gembrook road, you’ll find the town of Clematis, home to the recently renovated Paradise Valley Hotel.

The pub sits in a commanding position on the town’s main junction and has the Puffing Billy railway line running through its backyard, so you can wave to the folk on the train as you’re sucking down beers on the gorgeous indoor-outdoor terrace.

The blokes behind the Paradise Valley (Joe Durrant, Mark Protheroe and Steven Nelson, who also run The Recreation in Fitzroy North) took over the hotel’s reins earlier this year and, after a quick spruce up and a menu change, reopened the country boozer in August. The boys also plan to re-launch the pizzeria downstairs in the near future.

While you’re admiring those tree-top views from the terrace, the welcoming staff will direct your gaze to the list of starters, which include a banging plate of Chinese-inspired sweet and sour cauliflower, and grilled haloumi with diced chorizo and eggplant puree. Other small bites include pork, veal and pistachio sausage rolls, crispy lamb ribs and fried chicken with a lemon glaze. If you’re trying to watch your figure, go for the smoked trout salad, chargrilled asparagus with puff pastry or the parsnip, apple and swede soup.

The line-up of main dishes comprises all the things you want to see on a country pub menu. Think fat chicken parmas, fish and chips, a classic beef burger with pickle and cheese, sausage and mash and juicy steaks.

My red hot tip: go for the duck and mushroom pie with mashed potato and spinach. Duck meat is braised in red wine and duck stock, mixed with herbs, then encased in a dome of puff pastry and served on a mattress of mash and lentils.

The Paradise Valley Hotel was such a great find; a cracking little day trip destination if you’re looking to escape the city this summer.

A wise man once said: ‘A hard beginning maketh a good ending’.

 

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