My brother L lives overseas and recently came back to Melbourne for a mate’s wedding. I took a day off work to hang out with him (yep, ‘quality time’) and for some reason he decided he wanted to head out to ‘the country’ and see some scenery. This was a boon to me as a revisit to the Healesville Hotel has been on my to-do list for some time.
We headed out to Healesville on a sunny but crisp (well, actually freezing) Monday. The Healesville Hotel has three eating incarnations – the dining room, bistro and farm cafe. On Mondays the fine dining arm (the dining room) is closed, so we headed for the bistro in the front bar. We had been told that the hotel stops serving lunch at 3pm and were slightly stressed about the cut off – but this is a lie. The front bar serves food from 12pm – 9pm every day. Handy.
I was pretty surprised to see that the hotel was so busy on a Monday afternoon:
But the atmosphere was so cosy, relaxed and comfortable. What better way to spend a cold day than by an open fire with a glass of wine?
On to the menu, the main dishes are divided into ‘fish’, ‘pies and crumbs’ and ‘from the paddock’. Each day there is a special, when we visited, the Monday special was osso-bucco with polenta, gremolata and a glass of Italian red for $25, although I was sad we weren’t there on a Tuesday to share a five-hour slow cooked lamb shoulder, with root vegies, mint and peas (for two, $50).
I went for the daily special of osso-bucco but unfortunately it was sold out. Nonetheless, I found something else slow-cooked and delicious on the menu, daube of beef ($24.50):
As you would expect, the beef was incredibly tender. Actually, it was so tender you could cut it with a spoon. While the meat was good, I think the hero of the dish was the rich, thick, red wine sauce, which I mopped up with the creamy, garlic-spiked mash. I also love the combination of brussels with crispy, salty bacon. Win.
L went for the beer battered fish and chips ($22):
The batter on the fish was great – light, airy and crispy. The vinegar soaked onions provided a sour element that worked well to cut through the richness of the battered fish and the chips. I can say nothing about the coleslaw because I despise the stuff… it did look pretty though!
All in all, a very satisfying, comfortable, warm and relaxed lunch. I can’t wait to while away another afternoon cosseted in the Healesville Hotel, a great escape from the city!
256 Maroondah Hwy
(03) 5962 4002