605 Albany Highway
Ph: (08) 9362 6850
An Unexpected Pleasure
WHO would have thought that a meal in a local pub could surprise you with such excellence?
The iconic Victoria Park Hotel on Albany Highway in the heart of Victoria Park offered cool respite on a warm afternoon, and surprised us with a truly excellent meal.
The Free Range Roast Chicken Breast on baby spinach, eggplant, capsicum and zucchini with sun-dried tomato pesto and side vegetable champ was certainly an unexpected dish to find in a pub. The sweet tangy capsicum offset the savoury flavour of the tender succulent breast. The champ was a tasty combination of oven roasted sweet potato, royal blue potato, butternut pumpkin, carrot, garlic, rosemary and thyme, semi smashed into a rough mash. The recommended wine was a 2012 Vasse Felix Classic Dry White (Margaret River, WA). Despite the name the wine was not too dry at all, complementing the chicken very well.
Next we tried a 300gram Pork Rib eye served with pistachio-crusted wild mushrooms and a hickory apple sauce. This was the standout dish for us both – tender, tasty pork, plus the strong flavour of the wild mushrooms blended with the nutty, crunchy pistachio crumbs, more of that yummy champ, and some sweet, smoky apple sauce. A glass of 2011 Wirra Wirra Church Block (McLaren Vale, SA) – a blend of cabernet sauvignon with shiraz and a bit of merlot to soften and round out the flavour, was a great match with the pork and mushrooms.
The menu at the Victoria Park Hotel offers a good variety with main courses ranging in price from $19 to $35, and includes entrees, pizzas, pasta dishes, tasty salads, burgers and fancy sandwiches as well as kids meals. The desserts also change daily depending on what the chef decides to make on the day. We tried the Sticky Date Pudding – always a favourite of mine – it was delightfully light, fluffy and not too sweet. The Chocolate Soul Pudding – a favourite with local regulars – was a rich, chocolate-sauced pudding that brought back childhood memories – my mum used to make a similar pudding, which we loved as kids.
The chefs are obviously passionate about what they cook, with one commenting that there was “nothing like the smell of roasting bones in the morning – it gets the appetites going.”
When we asked one how he felt about cooking in a pub, he said he believed in showing people new ways with food, and always tried to create a point of difference from the usual pub grub. “We still do the traditional parmigiana and so on, but slip in different dishes where possible,” he said. They don’t need to try to reinvent new dishes because they cook all your favourites really well.
The chefs and Manager Paul Fox work well together as a team. Just as the chefs are passionate about food, Paul is knowledgeable and passionate about his wines and certainly the wines he picked for us to have with our meals were both well matched. It’s always a good idea to ask which wine is recommended with a particular dish – some places even include such advice on the menu.
With a new lunch menu from December 2013, there are bound to be a few more surprises to be found at the Victoria Park Hotel. But the local favourites will stay, including the house specialty of Coca Cola and Beer Rib Rack, which is a mouthwatering dish of barbequed pork ribs with the chef’s own barbecue sauce.
By Georgina Goss
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605 Albany Highway