Sometimes it feels like the only places we visit around Melbourne arecafes and cheap Asian restaurants. I know Melbourne specialises in these but we've made a conscious decision to try a few more pub meals. First off the rank was the London Tavern Hotel.
The London Tavern is located in a Richmond side street a couple of drop punts away from the old Punt Road Oval. You probably wouldn't come across it unless a local or making a special visit like we were. Out the back is a very spacious beer garden, partly undercover and partly out in the open. On a fairly miserable day it was still pretty nice out there and quite popular. I would have preferred something with a bit more individual styling though rather than red brick walls, brown wooden tables and a plasma screen TV playing the NBA all-star three point shooting contest in the background.
The blackboard menu contains some old pub favourites like chicken parmas and steak sandwiches, as well as some more modern Australian pub dishes, particularly amongst the entrees. My choice of the day was the chicken parma. Now it's years since I've had one of these, having previously been scarred by dry, overcooked meat topped by sloppy tomato paste and gloopy cheese. London Tavern's version came with thick, moist chicken breast meat, thick cut chips and a fresh garden salad. The balance of chicken to toppings was good and the serve generous. A simple dish really, but well prepared and presented.
Foghorn Leghorn went for the scotch fillet, with mushroom polenta, mushroom and spinach fricassee and artichoke chips. A good piece of meat, it also arrived rare as ordered. Not especially cheap but still comparatively good value for a Melbourne steak.
Ms Leghorn went for the Atlantic Salmon, with nicoise salad, pesto mayo and anchovy paste. Comment was made that this was good, better than expected. In particular she liked the way the yoke in the egg in the salad was still moist and not hard boiled.
Ruby Grapefruit's choice was the baked chermoula harpuka, served with slow cooked eggplant and tomato salad, yogurt sauce and eggplant fritter. While there could have been a bit more salad, the North African style chermoula spice was delicious on a good sized serve of fish.
Snooze went for a common choice for her - dahl curry with coconut sambal and roti bread. Again the serving size was generous, the dahl was well flavoured, spicy with a touch of chilli and full of curry leaves. The roti was also as she prefers it: crispy, a little dry and a large serve. Alas, the only photo Snooze forgot to take for the day was her own lunch!
We all made sure we saved room for dessert. I must admit to be a little disappointed with my chocolate 'fudgy' cake with raspberry coulis and clotted cream. The cake was thick and very chocolatey, and neither the cake or raspberry were overly sweet. So why didn't I like it? Probably because raspberry and chocolate isn't my favourite taste combination, and the cake was a bit of a compromise when my preferred dessert (creamed rice with rhubarb) wasn't available.
Dessert of the day was definitely Ruby Grapefruit's Persian Fairy Floss. A very large serve of what looks like unspun wool, light and sweet with an underlying nutty flavour (which we thought might be sesame) cutting through the vanilla flavours. Best of all, it was just fun to look at and eat.
Snooze went for the Turkish delight. Now I'm not a huge fan of rose flavoured Turkish delight but Snooze felt it was a good sized serve to go with a post meal tea or coffee, and that the flavours were delicate and avoided the common problem of being cloyingly sweet.
Foghorn Leghorn has absolutely no sweet tooth so he and Ms Leghorn went for the cheese plate. Three types of cheese with quince paste and sliced pear, with crisp bread on the side. Best of the cheese were the blue and brie, both of which were good. The cheddar though was a little bland.
Better than your usual pub grub but probably not at the head of itsclass, the London Tavern was a reasonable option the day we went there. Staff appeared efficient and despite being quite busy our food came out in a respectable amount of time. However, it's a large place and it may not work as well when full rather than half empty, and even half empty it was quite noisy next to a couple of large groups. It was a bit of a trip for everyone to get here so I'm not sure we will be back in a hurry, but it would make a good solid local.
Food - 7.5
Service - 7
Ambience - 6.5
Price - 6.5
238 Lennox Street
Richmond VIC 3121
Tel: (03) 9428 6894