Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 11, 2011: Royal Park Hotel

This year the Royal Park Hotel was acquired by the folks from Grigons & Orr and they've fitted the venue and the menu out in a similar nostalgic retro manner. This had us both curious and concerned - would a 70s-style pub menu have anything of interest for vegetarians? G&O's vegan-friendly menu kept us optimistic and we booked the Royal Park in for Pub Club.

Our optimism was well founded - a quarter of the entrees and mains are clearly marked as vegetarian. Sadly none of them look straight-up vegan, so I reckon it'd be wise to call ahead if that's what you need.

The early birds shared a bowl of onion rings ($8). These were whoppers, thick with batter and just a tad greasy. The accompanying thick lemony mayo was perfect for dipping. Thumbs up all round.

Once everyone had arrived and we'd migrated from couch to table, I tried the mushroom volauvent ($16.50): nice golden puff pastry, a pleasant cheesy cream sauce and plenty of mushrooms. The balsamic reduction didn't do a lot for it, and the small handful of watercress hinted that this might be intended as an entrée rather than a main.

Michael's vegetable pie ($19.50) was better - he was highly impressed with the thick lentil and pumpkin filling and the traditional pea-and-mash sides were solid.

As we finished our mains we were treated to complementary port and truffles! A cute custom, but unfortunately timed since they arrived while I was at the bar ordering dessert...

... because they had deep-fried ice cream ($12). I think this cured me of my nostalgia for the dish - I was already full of rich food, and the batter was painfully thick.

The Royal Park Hotel is a nice space with more going for it than just retro novelty. The staff were friendly but not completely on top of the food and drinks on offer. We encountered both hits and misses amongst the vego options, and may have felt more forgiving if they'd been a little cheaper. While they're comparable in price to the Fox and Gasometer, they're just not quite as numerous, interesting or consistent ...and they're certainly not as vegan.

Edit 22/11/11: Today's Age reports that these folks are no longer running the pub. The circumstances of their departure and the pub's future are shrouded in mystery.

The current incarnation of the Royal Park Hotel has been reviewed at Ale of a Time; they loved the food and atmosphere but were less impressed with the beer.

Royal Park Hotel
405 Queensberry St, North Melbourne
9329 4519
veg snacks, entrees and mains $8-19.50, desserts $12

Accessibility: There are small single steps on entry to the pub and between sections within the pub. Tables have average-to-high space between them and there are a few couches. Food and drinks are ordered at a high bar. Toilets are unisex but not particularly spacious.

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