Mona Castle Hotel, 53 Austin Street, Seddon. Phone: 9687 7636
It’s the end of the working/schooling week and we’ve made it through in pretty good nick.
But the cook – that would be me – is sick of cooking.
Besides, we’ve skipped the grocery shopping on the way home.
Worse still, a classic, typical Melbourne “false spring” has been and gone, and it’s grim and bleak outside.
Getting something delivered doesn’t appeal, either.
What to do?
Oh well, I gee both of us up and we head for the car, knowing not at all where we’re headed.
It proves to be one of our joyful spur-of-the-moment outings.
As will be obvious to anyone who spend more than a couple of minutes perusing Consider The Sauce, pub food isn’t really our “thing”.
Nevertheless, we have eaten at the Mona Castle a few times – twice in the more formal dining room and once from the bar menu.
But all of those occasions are now just dim memories.
After this visit, though, we think: “Why did it take us so long?”
There’s been talk in the past year or so about the death of neighbourhood, inner-city pubs, especially in the western suburbs.
The Mona Castle seems to be happily bucking that trend.
The big public bar space is already busy early on a Friday night as we enter, with about half the merry crowd seemingly adorned with fluoro work gear.
The staff are wearing monogrammed Mona Castle shirts that also bear a strong resemblance to the colour scheme of a certain local AFL team that will not be competing in any of this weekend’s finals matches.
We give the more formal and expensive dining room menu – you can see it at the Mona Castle website – a miss and head straight for the blackboard bar menu.
Oh, gee, what a surprise – Bennie orders the hamburger ($14).
For his father, it’s pie of the day, which – according to the daily specials list next to the blackboard – is tomato and beef and which also costs $14.
The main bar area being jumping and well on its way to being jammed, we adjourn to the back bar, which is festooned with yet more sports memorabilia and is gradually accepting the bar overflow of patrons.
After a gratifyingly short time, our meals arrive.
Bennie’s burger is a mountain teetering on the very edge of the wooden board on which it arrives.
Indeed, as he attempts to get to grips with his sandwich, runny egg yolk oozes from the board to the table.
No matter – this is just the sort of two-handed burger he loves so much these days as the pre-teen growing spurts come and go.
“MMMmmmm, beefy taste – it was yummy,” he says the next day.
He gives it eight out of 10.
My pie turns out to be a real surprise – instead of beef and tomato, it’s chicken curry.
No matter about that, either.
Why return a perfectly good pie to the kitchen, when life’s a lottery anyway?
The pie, in a ceramic dish, is lava-like hot and contains heaps of chicken pieces along with chunks of potato and carrot. The seasoning, of course, is regulation curry powder, but frankly anything more funky or sophisticated would be grossly inappropriate.
I like my pie a lot.
My salad is fine and fresh, with an extremely lemonish dressing.
Our chips are good, but could be a tad hotter and are way, way over-salted.
We’ve loved our dinners and we love the homely, cheerful and welcoming vibe of the Mona Castle.
For a quick, hassle-free and cheap feed it strikes us as a winner when we’re not inspired to travel further afield for anything more exotic.
And as far as pub food goes, the bar menu certainly is an attractive proposition, especially when there’s goodies such as corned beef to try.
And don’t you just reckon this is the sort of place that will do an awesome spaghetti bolognaise?
Flat-screen TVs: Yes, heaps of them.