Stag’s Head, 39 Cecil St, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 8337
Whatever the merits or otherwise of Williamstown as a food destination, we very much enjoy cruising the suburb’s back streets, especially those around the beach and its station.
There are heaps of lovely old homes and buildings to be eyeballed and the area seems to be defying whatever gentrification and “progress” is taking place nearby on Ferguson St and Nelson Pde.
One such building is the Stag’s Head, first built in the 1860s and reconstructed in 1887.
It’s a golden oldie and feels like it, even if the current management, fit-out, locals and food aren’t quite of that vintage.
It feels oh-so-comfortable, right from the threadbare carpet and bar full of nick-nacks through to wooden floors seemingly springloaded with age and comical signage.
Even better, there’s a perpetually free pool table. Maybe it costs that little because at either end there’s walls that get in the way of sensible cue management.
Whatever – one of our games is abandoned because of the arrival of our lunch and Bennie beats his father in the other on a mere technicality (sinking white off black).
There’s a more formal dedicated dining room and a sunny courtyard, but we’re happy to perch on bar stools for our lunch visit.
The menu is compact, runs to two sides of A4 and includes “old favourites” such as chicken parma and porterhouse for $20, three salads for $15-18 and five lunch dishes for $12.50 apiece.
From the lunch list we choose salt and pepper calamari and fish tacos.
Bennie’s calamari is really fine – tender, mildly seasoned and of extreme yumminess when dipped in the lovely aioli.
Only problem is, for a lunch dish it’s light-on, with only a small rocket salad with a few parmesan flakes to accompany.
Maybe the key here is to make sure of a dish’s heft before ordering if one is keen of appetite.
In any case, Bennie for sure could’ve done with an equivalent serve of the chips that come with my tacos.
As it is, he makes do with a bag of beer nuts from behind the bar.
My fish tacos are wonderful.
The fish – hoki from New Zealand – is mildly flavoured but goes beaut with the tomato salsa, red cabbage, chilli sauce and coriander.
The taco shells are, I suspect, store-bought. But I’m cool with that, especially as each taco maintains its structural integrity right down to the final tasty mouthful.
With the good chips on the side, I really enjoy a lovely light meal that seems priced just right at $12.50.
By the time we leave, I’m wishing the Stag’s Head was our local.