We all know that cats have nine lives, but it's a little known fact that ducks can have several too. Exhibit A: The Flying Duck Hotel in Prahran. With several incarnations under its belt — or at least, wing — The Flying Duck has once again proved that you can't keep a good duck down. Duck down. Get it?
Moving on. Dating back to 1868, The Flying Duck is one of the oldest pubs in Melbourne. Little surprise then that it holds such a special place in the hearts of the community — a community that rallied when the Duck was threatened with demolition in 2014 to make way for a six-storey apartment building. And now, after a long battle, victory, new owners and renovations, The Flying Duck is once again in full flight.
The Inge family, who also own the Flinders Hotel, are a family that care about hospitality. Karen Inge in particular has left no stone unturned when it comes to good staff and quality product. At The Duck, "nobody's a VIP and everybody's a friend — the food's made with love". She's worked closely with chef Javier Perez Gonzalez to produce a menu that reflects the essence of the pub it serves, while also showcasing some beautiful takes on Mediterranean Australian fusion.
Javier and Karen share a similar distaste for the parma, but admit that it's often what the people want. And if you can't beat them, join them (but make it healthier). Which is exactly what they've done with The Flying Duck parma — a schnitzel, lightly pan seared, swathed in house-made Napoli sauce and crumbs and then oven baked. Yes, it does come with chips. Javier's hope is that parma lovers will enjoy his rendition, but come back to try some of his other offerings.
Amongst these offerings are the ocean trout ceviche served on top of a block of pink Himalayan salt. Subtle, light and refreshing, the fish is served with thin slices of almost-transparent radish, diced cucumber and pickled onion slices; earth plays with sea as the ingredients work together. This dish is all about timing — if the chefs plate it up too soon, the salt from the block will take over. But get the right timing and the flavour is incredible.
Al dente spinach spaghetti served with spanner crab, pipis and cherry tomatoes, lightly wrapped in a white wine and garlic broth and served with a flourish of saffron threads is a dish to go back for. As is the ice cream sandwich: raspberry sorbet sandwiched between two pieces of chocolate brownie and served with coconut cream. Think cherry ripe, but with the tart richness of raspberries instead of cherries.
A good range of wines, mostly local beers and some playfully named cocktails — Duck Duck Gooseberry and Another One Bites the Duck included — will ensure the Inges' new tagline, For Good Times, is realised.
With the rustic brick indoor bar, the conservatory and marquee spaces for dining in an inside-outside setting, as well as the outside courtyard presided over by some beautiful palm trees, this pub has a spot for whatever mood you're in.
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