Central Club Hotel
Find the recently renovated pub right across the road from the Queen Vic Market.
July 14, 2023
The Central Club Hotel, a 150-year-old pub across the road from Queen Victoria Market, underwent some mighty big renovations lately.
The small Melbourne pub was totally gutted to make way for a fresh sleek curved bar that you can drink and dine at as well as a modest dining room sectioned off by the kitchen pass. But you don't have to hide away in the corner to eat. If want to be a part of the buzz, you can hang at some of the tables in the main bar space — equipped with a telly silently playing the footy on game days.
And you will want to eat here. The menu has been given heaps of love, focusing on refined pub classics and Italian fare with some Asian influences. You can head to the Central Club Hotel for a great parma or fish and chips — and be very happy — but it's the creative dishes that make this North Melbourne pub stand out.
You might find kingfish sashimi on menus all over the city these days, but this locale's version has been jazzed up with a yuzu kosho oil and pearls of radishes and pears to bring it to the next level. The umami kick, paired with kingfish — purchased from suppliers at the market across the road — makes for a fab combo.
Prefer something of the deep-fried variety? Be sure to nab a big bowl of karaage chicken or cauliflower served with a punchy wasabi mayo. The light batter gives you all that greasy goodness without being too heavy — or feeling like your pores have been clogged with oil.
But if you're going to order anything at this new haunt, it best be one of the fresh homemade pasta dishes. Our favourite? The blue swimmer crab linguine. This bad boy rises above all other seafood pasta thanks to the use of a super-rich prawn bisque that's used as the base of its sauce. The team doesn't skimp on the crab either.
Red meat lovers also have plenty to enjoy. There are steaks aplenty sourced from across the road. But as it is with most steaks in Melbourne, these can cost a small fortune. That's why we love to see cheaper cuts of meat on the menu, like Central Club Hotel's 300-gram hangar steak. This tender piece of meat is the perfect poor man's steak — coming with all the usual trimmings including thick-cut chips, salad and your choice of housemade sauces.
Then come the Italian desserts. Now, profiteroles can be boring. They tend to be unremarkable. But these might just be the best we've had. The choux pastry is perfect — buttery and soft yet with a good crunch — and the vanilla mascarpone custard filling with a topping of chocolate mousse is heaven. Add some brightly flavoured strawberry coulis to the plate and the dessert is perfection. You can really tell the chefs are having fun in the kitchen.
Wines are also given stacks of love from the drinks team. Independent Aussie producers shine the brightest (with stacks available by the glass) while lesser-known European varieties feature throughout the menu. This isn't a stock standard cab sav and pinot gris offering, we're talking gamay, nero d'avola, durif, and fiano to name a few.
This newly renovated spot is all about elevating the usual pub experience, bringing North Melbourne a much-needed posh (yet still fairly casual) pub six days a week.
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