Rose of Australia Hotel, 54 Ferguson Street, Williamstown. Photo: 9397 6259
Exterior that emits classy vintage vibes, a narrow hallway leading to the dining room and even more narrow hallways leading elsewhere, friendly service – the Rose is doing its bit to maintain and preserve the tradition of old-school pubs in the western suburbs.
We’d eaten here once before our mid-week visit on a typically wintry Melbourne spring evening, but that’s just a hazy memory from when Bennie was a fractious toddler.
He was often a Very Naughty Boy in those days. Well, extremely trying anyway …
The classic exterior appears to have not changed at all; not so with the bistro.
We’re told the current management has been in place for about five years and the current dining room fit-out for about five months.
It’s still old-school, mind you, and we love the comfy booths arrayed along on side of the room.
So we grab one.
The menu is straight-up pub tucker, though in this instance Bennie is going to have survive without the burger he desires.
My chicken parmagiana ($18.50) is real fine – a thickish slab of flavoursome, juicy chicken topped with the regulation cheese and ham, with the biggest flavour hit coming from a fine tomato sauce.
It’s a much more substantial parma than is conveyed by the above photo.
The chips are fine, too, but I wish there was whole bunch more of them. The salad component is OK but struggles to avoid being labelled “garnish”.
Bennie has never before ordered a mixed grill.
This proves to be not the best place for him to break that particular duck.
At $19.50, it’s described to us as various meats, other bits and “warm potato salad and onion gravy”.
It’s fair to say Bennie’s never seen anything like it.
Nor have I, for that matter.
There’s heaps of smallish but delicious pieces of steak, bacon rashers, a fried egg and a goodly sausage, all smothered in dark gravy. And none of the lamb chop or cutlet we have been expecting.
The salad in the middle has a serious case of caper overkill. I’d imagined spud salad and mixed grill to be quite a workable combo, but what with the gravy and all … it just looks wrong.
Bennie’s a bit overwhelmed, and even resorts to asking for his barely warm meal to be heated up, not that it makes much difference to him.
Despite the unhappy, blameless mishap with the mixed grill – we did, after all get, exactly what was described – we like the Rose.
The Tuesday curry night – choice of one of two, with raita, house-made roti, rice, pickle and papadam for $15 – appears to be particularly worthy of future investigations.