Saturday, February 24, 2018

Old England Hotel, Heidelberg by Foghorn Leghorn

I’ve visited the Old England Hotel in Heidelberg many times. Whenever I cycle up the Yarra bike path it’s my default lunch venue, as I haven’t found anywhere better along the river (happy to take suggestions). So I decided to rope in the Eat and Be Merry Crew, to see if their impression was just as favourable. The last time we got together was at an alcohol-free vegetarian place, and it was time to put that trauma behind us.

Old England Hotel, Heidelberg, Greek lamb salad
Greek lamb salad

The Old England Hotel has one of the broader pub menus in Melbourne, and the Crew’s choices spanned a good range of it.

Old England Hotel, Heidelberg, lamb's fry
Snooze plumped for a pub classic, lamb’s fry. Liver is notoriously easy to get wrong (over-cooking turns it into something awful), but the Old England people know their stuff. Snooze had it with carrot mash, a blend of carrot and mashed potato. If you prefer something less sweet (I do), just ask for standard potato mash. Rounding out the dish were bacon and pickled onions.

Old England Hotel, Heidelberg, roast pork loin
Big Fil and Mr Lucky both chose the same special – roast loin of pork with crackling and apple sauce. Both praised it highly, particularly the crackling.

Old England Hotel, Heidelberg, baby veal
Benny chose an adventurous dish of baby veal with rocket, poached pear, parmesan salad, parmesan and herb crumbs, and pommes Anna. Wikipedia tells me that pommes Anna is a rich golden cake made with sliced potatoes and lots of butter. The Old England Hotel served it up as individual potato slices with much less butter.

Bilby Blue had a Greek lamb salad, which looked very good indeed (see first pic). The meat was cooked to the right degree of rareness, and the other ingredients all combined to make an appetising presentation.

Old England Hotel, Heidelberg, mushroom risotto
Ruby Grapefruit is a risotto fan, so she took a risk and plumped for the mushroom risotto. The risk paid off, and the risotto was highly praised.

Old England Hotel, Heidelberg, eye fillet steak
Mrs Shiraz (previously known as Mrs Leghorn) went for her old favourite, an aged eye fillet steak. This was requested medium rare, but came out slightly over-cooked. It was accompanied by spinach, chunky chips and some thick red wine jus.

Old England Hotel, Heidelberg, flounder
I decided on a flounder, as I’ve always liked its clean white flesh. Plus it’s more fun to have a whole fish, rather than an anonymous fillet. The flounder was grilled just right, with a salad and chips accompaniment.

Old England Hotel, Heidelberg, bread
Freshly baked bread

Overall, the Crew were happy with their choices. This is quite an achievement when you consider the range of dishes that the kitchen sends out. Interestingly, no-one in the group ventured into the Asian section of the menu. We couldn’t envisage that a place called “Old England” would turn out Asian food as good as what we find in the various Chinatowns we frequent, but maybe we were wrong.

Old England Hotel, Heidelberg, cakes
Cake selection

That brings me to a quirk of this hotel. If you were opening a restaurant today, would you call it “Old England”? Would you even have “England” anywhere in the name? Probably not. Whenever I’ve mentioned this place to people, they think either that it’s a theme pub, or that it will serve English stodge, or both. Nothing could be further from the truth. The pub is simply staying true to the name it had when it first opened in 1848. That predates the creation of Victoria as a separate colony in 1851, when Melbourne had a population of 23,000, and Heidelberg was well outside the city limits. Back then, 170 years ago, the word “England” had positive connotations.

The hotel offers the choice of bistro-style dining or a separate restaurant section with full table service. The bistro style is easiest for large groups, as everyone pays for their own food and drinks when they order. The restaurant section full table service costs 10% more, and is in a slightly more luxurious setting. Occasionally I’ve seen the restaurant section fully booked out for special occasions. Speaking of which, you should book in advance for either section. It’s a very popular venue on weekends, particularly with families celebrating birthdays and similar. Almost every time I’ve been there, someone has been celebrating a 50th birthday – that gives you an idea of the venue’s demographic.

Old England Hotel, Heidelberg


We loved it
We loved it.
Mid value
Mid value.


I’ll keep coming back to the Old England Hotel whenever I’m in the neighbourhood. It offers the right combination of good food, good service, and a pleasant atmosphere. It’s a pity that there’s no outdoor seating, but the dining room almost makes up for it with big windows looking out onto the garden. Prices are mid-range, with mains starting at $25, and moving up to $38 for the aged eye fillet.

It’s worth highlighting the good service. The staff are efficient and pleasant, clear tables quickly, and keep the place neat, clean, and well-functioning.

It’s a 10 minute walk from Heidelberg train station, or a short detour from the Yarra bike path. The car park is enormous, and I’ve never seen it full. (I wish they would turn a small portion of the car park into a beer garden.)

Above all, how many other restaurants/pubs in Melbourne have been in business for 170 years? Offhand, I can’t think of any place with a longer history.

Find it at

Old England Hotel
459 Lower Heidelberg Road
Heidelberg VIC 3084
Phone: (03) 9459 1166

Old England Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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