Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Brandon Hotel (Carlton Nth) 03/10

The distinction between various establishments serving both alcoholic beverages and food is somewhat blurred today. Pubs (an abbreviation of Public House), Taverns, Inns, Hotels, restaurants and gastropubs all may serve food and alcohol. They cannot be distinguished on criteria of level of service, elegance of facilities, range of foods or distinction of cooking. Some pub restaurants serve better food have better appearance and provide better service than some restaurants. Indeed we find that some 'gastropubs', which endeavour to serve better quality food, are better than most restaurants.

The Brandon Hotel falls into this category. Whilst the service might be a little amateurish, (To the question "Do you have a dessert menu?" the response was "Yes I will bring it out when the time comes") the place is attractive and the food excellent. It has a slightly old fashioned look with 50's style chairs.
Tables have white linen clothes and napkins and good weight cutlery.

There are a variety of starters including a vegetarian option, oysters, with lime and sherry. or salmon. Mains also include a vegetarian dish, fish or chicken as well as slow cooked lamb neck and steaks. Sides of Heirloom tomatoes, crushed Kipfler potaoes or green beans with fetta are all $8.

We began with a starter of free range pork with Yarra Valley pickled pear and crispy pigs ear ($15) Chef Nigel Cunningham, late of the award winning Healesville Hotel, started here a couple of months ago. He has introduced a lot of very good Yarra Valley products and wines. The thought of pigs ear might be off putting but it was similar to something between crispy bacon and crackling. The pork, a nice size piece of pork belly was superb and the colourful sweet poached pear a very good accompaniment. The boneless quail wrapped in prosciutto with white bean puree, roasted hazelnuts and Cafe de Paris butter ($16)
was a tasteful and tasty presentation and the bean puree excellent. For mains I had the special 120 day grain fed beef steak
and Sandra the char grilled 31 day dry aged grass fed Gippsland Black Angus beef with roasted bone marrow, gratin of colcannon potato and parsley with a caper and red onion salad ($36). Both steaks were cooked as requested and were reasonably tender. There was a distinct difference in the taste of the grass fed meat and the grain fed beef but I could not say I had a taste of fresh mown grass!

There is a small choice of desserts or a cheese platter. We had a Kennedy and Wilson chocolate brownie with Alexandria cherries poached in Pedro Ximenez sherry with a dollop of cream ($16).
This was a great end to the meal for a lover of sweet things, Coffee was served with chockies.

They have a fair range of wines - there are over four dozen on their list, mostly Australian, with half a dozen reds or whites by the glass and half a dozen fortified and dessert wines. The prices are extremely reasonable running from $22 for an 08 Rothbury Estate sav. blanc to $550 for an 01 Penfolds Grange. This turned out to be a very good meal at a reasonable cost.

We are happy to recommend the Brandon.

Score:14.25 /20


neil said...

The cooking looks superb, I'd have the pigs ear any day! The sort of meal that calls out for a great wine, mmm, Grange you said.

Elliot and Sandra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elliot and Sandra said...

This is the sort of place that gives pub food a good name. (the previous comment was removed because it had several spelling errors!)