Prince Albert Hotel, 149 Douglas Parade, Williamstown: 9397 5117
Consider The Sauce has got a lot of advice from doctors in the past six months.
Some of it has even been about food.
One of them, for instance, a Williamstown local, spoke admiringly about the Prince Albert, its $12 burger nights and its perpetually $15 parmas.
Bennie and I stuck our noses in one Sunday night, really liked the vibe of the place and vowed to return, though we did dine at our fave pizza joint that night.
Then, a few weeks later, the following arrived by email:
“Hi Kenny, I’ve recently discovered your Blog & Facebook Page. I am Michael, one of the new owners at the Prince Albert Hotel in Williamstown. I took over this pub four months ago alongside my father in October, and would love to invite you down for a meal on us to check it out and see what you think and if it’s worthy of a blog post, which I hope it would be.”
Why sure, we’re into that!
(Full discolsure below …)
On the night we visit, I find out that Michael and his dad have little or no pub or hospitality experience, though Michael did work at the Prince Albert for 10 months or so before the pair took the joint over.
Perhaps that fresh-faced approach is no bad thing, as I reckon these guys are definitely doing something right.
There’s a casual bar area and there’s a beer garden.
But it’s the slightly more formal dining room that knocks me out.
This has an elegant ambiance, without being stuffy.
We have a lot of good foodie pubs around us these days but a newish sheen is often part of the deal.
At the Prince Albert, I feel like we are soaking up the love from a comfy yet spiffy local, the whole deal accentuated by the very good black-clad, relaxed staff.
The four of us share two starters …
Chicken and sweet corn croquettes with avocado and tequila dip ($16) are daintily crisp on the outer, rich and gooey on the inner, though there seems only the mildest chook or corn flavour to me.
The dip is OK but not, IMO, a very good match for the croquettes.
Salt and pepper squid ($14) is likewise dainty and fresh but is under-seasoned by the rights of our four palettes and their utter familiarity with highly-spiced food of various Asian varieties!
But wait … we’re just getting started and things get better for us.
Lots better …
The recipient of the seafood linguine ($26) likes her choice plenty, telling me that with it absence of tomato it is a bit different from what she might expect in a swish Italian eatery but still very enjoyable.
I’m surprised to see unbidden grated cheese atop the pasta prawns but my pal is fine with that as she likes it that way.
Two of us choose the top-of-the-line rib eye steak ($34), mine with a basket of fine chips, red wine jus, a good slaw and equally fine and fresh rocket, cucumber and tomato salad.
My meaty companion gets the same slaw but opts for mash and asparagus.
Wowee, this is the best steak I’ve had for a long, long time.
It has a just-right but suitably subtle charred and salty exterior and is cooked perfectly to the requested specifications (medium rare).
There’s a heap of places where you can get an equally great chunk of beef, of course, including in the west.
But the great thing here is that Prince Albert steaks come complete; there’s no need to top up with extra sides.
The accompaniments are all terrific and make this something of a bargain.
Our visit coincides with Tuesday’s $12 burger night, so predictably that’s what Bennie chooses to do, getting the $12 sandwich as opposed to the $24 job that’s on the regular menu – we’re told they’re very similar in any case.
He likes his burger but is a bit “meh” on it, telling me the relish doesn’t “do much”.
I dunno, mate – it looks mighty fine to me.
Could be it’s time for this young man to start thinking about what other food is available to him.
Could be a case of too many burgers!
We four share two desserts …
Eton Mess ($12) looks like a disparate array of components but the raspberries, passionfruit, meringue and ultra-rich cream work together to very yummy effect.
The waffles ($12) are also tasty, though I do wish the very good brought-in ice cream and strawberries had been served to the side in order to preserve waffle crispiness for our eating pleasure.
As ever, Consider The Sauce partaking of food for which we don’t pay is no impediment – and never will be – to an honest appraisal of our experiences.
But the minor quibbles mentioned above should in no way be seen as detracting from our enjoyment of the Prince Albert, the esteem in which we hold it and the super night we’ve had.
We wish it was our local!
And I reckon we’ll be back soon … if only so I can try that burger for myself and see if Bennie’s “meh” should have rightly been “mighty”!
(Consider The Sauce dined at the Prince Albert as guests of management. No money changed hands. We ordered whatever we wanted. The Prince Albert management did not seek any editorial input into this story.)