Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Restaurant Review: Royston Hotel

Location: 12 River St, Richmond
Phone: (03) 9421 5000
Cuisine: Gastro-pub
Overall Impression: 9/10

Hand pumped, cask conditioned beer. This is how beer used to be (before big corporations started pasteurising and carbonating it) and how beer should be.

After years of mass produced, artificially carbonated beer flooding the market and becoming the new ‘norm’ in Australia, hand pumped beer is beginning its resurgence thanks to breweries like the Holgate Brewhouse in Woodend, and temples of beer worship such as The Royston and the Great Northern Hotel.
Holgate ESB

This genuine, English style of beer shows greater complexity and depth of flavour than its artificially carbonated and pasteurised competitors. A pint of this brings J and I right back to the time we spent in the UK.

Chicken Parma

Apart from excellent beer, the Royston provides very good quality food at reasonable prices. They have mastered the Aussie pub basics (the Royston’s Parma is my favourite in Melbourne), but are also not afraid to push the boundaries of pub cuisine (Lamb Kofta, Lentil Sheppard’s Pie, Asian Calamari Salad, Hungarian Goulash etc.)
Royston Bar Plate: Marinated rainbow olives, grilled chorizo sausage, Persian fetta, smoked salmon, warm Turkish bread, roti bread $18.50

The share plate was, like everything at The Royston, very generous. The aged fetta was delicious, the Turkish bread warm and fresh and the inclusion of several different olive varieties a particularly thoughtful touch.
Lentil Sheppard’s Pie: Winter vegetable & green lentil hot pot, mashed potato, melted cheese, parsley, wild rocket salad $25.90
Lamb Kofta: Home-made lamb kofta balls, Indian spices, fruit and nut rice, cumin & honey yoghurt $27.90
Asian Calamari Salad: Grilled Calamari, rice noodles, Asian greens, Vietmanese mint, hot & sour dressing $25.90

Hungarian Goulash: Smoked paprika and tomato beef hotpot, home-made potato gnocchi, sour cream, parmesan, parsley $27.90

Although the Lentil Sheppard’s Pie and Asian Calamari Salad could have done with a touch more seasoning, the Lamb Kofta was lovely. Of particular note was the Goulash, which was packed chock full of flavour. The chunky cubes of beef were tender and the fresh gnocchi resembled soft potato pillows. It was more authentic and generous than that served at The Hungarian.

Although not always entirely successful, The Royston’s efforts to break with the conventions of standard pub fare are to be commended. 

250g Porterhouse Steak: with wild rocket salad, chips, red wine jus $23.50

The steak at The Royston is solid but not a standout. After having tried it many times on ‘Locals Nights’ (certain dishes such as the Steak and Parma come down to $17 on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays) it has never truly impressed (the cut of meat used is only average).
Bread and Butter Pudding
Peanut Butter Parfait

The deserts at The Royston are particularly good, especially the Peanut Butter Parfait. I have tried this desert many times over the years and despite it regularly changing shape and receiving small tweaks, it is consistently delicious.

Whilst I would love to keep it a secret, The Royston’s growing popularity in recent times has shown that the secret is already out. The Royston is clearly starting to gather a local following as until recently, ‘Locals Nights’ brought the price of certain dishes down to $15.

It is an unassuming, unpretentious pub that serves excellent beer and great food. This is why The Royston has been our local for several years now. Even though we do not live locally.

Royston Hotel on Urbanspoon

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