The North Melbourne Hotel
Do not be deterred by the utterly plain façade of The North Melbourne Hotel on Victoria Street. Inside the latest restaurant offering from publicans Sandra and Jose de Oliveria (owners of Richmond’s Bouzy Rouge) you will find a delightfully enticing décor and a reasonably priced, modern European menu.
The black chandeliers, marble-topped tables and eclectic knick-knacks are charming. Bartender Marco bounces around, hoping you will be tempted by the cocktail list or perhaps try one of his own concoctions. His Pisco Sour with a twist (a dash of chocolate bitters) is excellent. Apparently, the wrong pisco turned up in an order but Marco has made it work and now the Muscatel Pisco is on the re-order list.
Share fare is encouraged so there are smaller plates such as Steak Tartare through to Duck Liver Parfait .The early crowd favourite are the Jalapeno Poppers. While the crispy fried lambs brains are a stand-out. Larger dishes include Seafood Paella and 12-hour roasted lamb shoulder.
Local breweries and craft beer have been embraced with the North Melbourne Draught at four dollars a pot. A house red or white is also four dollars while there’s a solid range of local and Italian, French and Portuguese wine.
Surprisingly, the par-baked bread imported from France is excellent, with a perfect crunch and teamed with a subtle olive oil for dipping.
Portions are generous. The Cajun spiced soft shell crab, brioche bun and spicy remoulade is enormous (11 dollars) while the side dish of Angry eggs (crispy potatoes, Iberian ham, aioli and fried egg) is nearly too large for two.
The char grilled pasture fed Eye fillet, sweet potato puree, jus and roast witlof makes a classy main while the king fish cerviche is both sizeable and satisfying.
The 100 seat pub is an elegant space for relaxed dining. There’s nothing dull about it on the inside.
Location: 480 Victoria Street, North Melbourne
Phone: 03 9329 1634