Looking at the building on the corner of Napier and Hyde Streets you would think that you were in a small country village in England. It looked quaint and nothing like I imagined that I would find in multicultural Footscray of all places.
I had to reference a Psychology textbook when considering the Station Hotel and what I observed after entering. We are all familiar with "locals" that frequent bars and pubs, and in this case, the trendy term can be applied, "gastropub" where locals are "Insider's" and all the others are considered "outsider's" which are in turn highly evocative terms. Insiders are supposed to be "in the know," which sounds positive, but they may also be seen as having an unfair advantage. Outsiders are ambiguous, often being seen as being excluded and negative, but occasionally as having an objectivity or freedom not possessed by people who have a stake in their membership in a class or system. An outside observer of a family or business may be an "outside agitator" but may also make observations and offer good advice because he or she is not so involved in the rewards and punishments of the system. I suppose I am the outside observer of sorts.
Since starting this blog five months ago, I have frequently seen the "Inside/Outside" contrast alive and well in places that I normally would not visit and all too frequently in places that I either like or actually consider myself a local. With the all that in mind, this concept although seemingly valid by looking around the venue, once you dig deeper, chat and listen, I have found it to be one of the few places where you can feel included despite how you are dressed, what you may do for a living (some patrons were on furlough from an office building, others appeared to have been doing roadworks in the morning) or if you are a tourist, hipster, local or even an interested party like me looking for good value, good times and good food. It was refreshing and humbling to say the least.
Having only have heard good things about the steak on offer at this place, I instead opted for the Gippsland lamb rump with pommes boulangeres, local asparagus and sauce Navarin ($38) and I am so pleased that I did. It arrived a perfect medium rare, with a nice charred flavour and cooked simply which I would be so bold as describe as the Heston Blumenthal technique. The lamb had obviously been rested and it was the perfect temperature when served. The asparagus was fresh and crunchy and full of flavour. After my recent trip to Attica, I wondered if this produce was farmed in Ben Shewry's garden as it was so good. My dining companion enjoyed the Penne, spicy bolgnaise, peas and fresh ricotta ($18) and he couldn't stop saying how good it was and was slightly taken back by the large portion size.
I kept myself hydrated with 4 Pines and Mountain Goat Beer whilst enjoying this gastropub experience. There is a small beer garden of sorts that would have made a relaxed place to dine and hang out however on this occasion it was raining so I thought better of it.
If only the Station Hotel was within walking distance to Southbank, I would make it my local. I haven't felt at "home" as much as I did in this pub since I lived in Sydney and made the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel my home away from home. The great thing about the Station Hotel though is this exciting menu where I look forward to returning many times. I was also happy to learn that The Wayside Inn is its sister venue which is within walking distance from me so I am keen to visit it and as you would expect, report back on here soon.
Link to review
59 Napier Street Footscray VIC 3011
My Rating: 13.5/20
Value For Money: 3/5
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com
At the time of this post, 85% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon like the Station Hotel.