Junction Beer Hall and Wine Room, 15 Hall Street, Newport. Phone: 9391 8188
The now fading days of the Geelong commute were undertaken mostly by car, but some of it was courtesy of the uncertainties of train.
That often entailed an early evening train switch at Newport, so I spent quite a bit of downtime loitering at Newport Station, sometimes taking the opportunity to do a bit of mostly desultory shopping in the Hall Street shopping precinct.
Maybe it was more about my morose state of mind than anything else, but the recall of those times is largely one of drabness and even a certain sense of menace.
Right in the middle of that shopping strip was a down-at-heel old school boozer.
In Saturday lunchtime sunshine – and with the Geelong trip just a memory – the whole vibe seems quite different.
We pass a couple of busy cafes on our way to what is now Junction Beer Hall & Wine Room.
The management of the various establishments may beg to differ, but the new-look Junction seems to us to have a lot in common with two other pubs we have been frequenting of late – the Spotiswoode and the Plough.
That extends to the fit-out as well as the food, although the Junction – as befits its full name – has very long beer and wine lists.
Out back there’s a roomy lounge that has – we are tickled to discover – three sofas identical to the Scandinavian-style number that sits in our living room, as well as many other of the same model in different colour schemes.
The Junction has separate food menus for the beer hall and wine room, though they appear to overlap.
The beer hall menu has pizzas and steaks, going for around $30, as well as some novel snacky items such as prawn sliders and fried chick peas with cumin and salt.
But having scoped out the menu before leaving home, we’re pretty sure we know what we’re having so waste no time ordering.
“This sure is a shiny bun,” says “Five Bowls” Bennie.
Yes, it’s my boy’s first experience with a fancy foodie burger using brioche as its bookends.
His burger with “cheese, beetroot relish, aioli and brioche bun, served with onion rings” ($14) is less of a glorious handful than he is accustomed to, so the sandwich lasts all of about three minutes.
However, the mouthful of burger I snag in the interests of science tastes outright excellent.
The good onion rings are joined on the chopping board platters by some crunchy cornichons.
Bennie freely casts envious and admiring eyes at my pulled pork sandwich “with house made BBQ sauce and coleslaw” ($13).
That’s only right – as it’s a beauty.
Stuffed between a wonderfully fresh ciabatta-style roll are just the right proportions of chewy, flavoursome pork and tangy, crisp slaw.
Unlike Bennie’s burger, this sandwich IS a handful – and a suitably messy one at that.
Throwing in extras such as fries ($9) and alcohol could see your Junction bill climbing skywards, but the immediate locals would seem to have every reason to be happy about having this foodie pub at hand.
Check out the Junction website – including menus – here.