Our semi-regular pub-club has been limping along lately, with our last instalment (at the Cornish Arms) attracting a record low turn-out. For a variety of reasons, we somehow exploded this week into a group of almost twenty willing pubbers, meaning we needed a venue that could squeeze a big group in at the last minute. Enter The Union Club Hotel. It served us well on a previous pub-club visit and had plenty of space in the dining room for us (even if we did end up split over two tables thanks to the 30+ birthday group in the corner).
The menu has changed since last time but there's still a vegan-friendly burger on offer, the soy chilli tofu burger with tomato, lettuce, onion, cucumber, coriander and eggplant relish ($17).
Importantly, the chips were done pretty well (there's nothing more disappointing than bad pub chips). The burger was pretty good too - a chilli-soy marinated tofu chunk with fresh salad and a tasty eggplant mush on a decent bun. Goes well with beer.
Cindy went a bit more upmarket, with the arancini balls (field mushrooms and parmesan with a gorgonzola sauce, served with a rocket, radish and pear salad, $18).
I didn't manage to sneak a bite but Cindy seemed pretty impressed with these, even managing to finish her meal before some of our dining buddies. The arancini had a nice firm fried skin on them but were filled with creamy, cheesy rice flecked with mushrooms. The salad was a pleasing effort too, after her disappointment last time.
The staff were good humoured and relatively efficient, despite the difficulties of dealing with two massive groups (although one of our friends' orders was delayed briefly). I really like the vibe of the pub too - it's got a lovely outdoor area, a nice rooftop and a good mix of dining tables, lounges and standing areas. And a pool table. The food falls a smidgen short of the standards set by Collingwood champs The Gaso, The Fox and The Gem but it's a reliable option in a crowded pub landscape. We'll be back.
Read about our previous pub-club visit here. Since then, only the parma-obsessed folk at Parma Daze seem to have posted about it.
The Union Club Hotel
Cnr Gore and Webb Streets, Fitzroy
veg entrees $7 - $13, mains $17 - $18
Accessibility: A small step on entry and a moderately spaced interior. Ordering and payment happens at a typically high pub bar.