MELBOURNE | Located within the side streets of Prahran, away from the business of the Chapel Street strip, the Flying Duck Hotel has been through many owners and iterations since it first opened its doors back in 1868. The historic hotel was originally slated to be partially demolised to create a six-storey apartment block, however in a pleasing reversal of the recent trend of old pubs being lost to housing developments these plans were scrapped and the hotel sold to new owners following protests by residents of the area. In late 2015 the pub was relaunched following a facelift of both the venue and the food menu and we were recently invited to the reopening of the Flying Duck Hotel.
The Flying Duck is located on Bendigo Street which runs between Malvern Road and High Street, making it readily accessible via multiple tram routes and also the train and is well signed from the major streets making it easy to find. Despite the renovations the Flying Duck retains its old-style pub exterior and character which we are very much in favour of.
The crown jewel of the Flying Duck is the rear beer garden which has been a feature of the venue since it first opened. Split into three parts it is made up of a covered gazebo, an open air space with long tables and benches, and a second covered area with a television that is used to show sporting events. The beer garden has a great feel to it and the availability of covered spaces means that it is usuable in most weather conditions. On the night we visited the Flying Duck the weather conditions were perfect to just hang out and enjoy a few drinks and we can definitely see locals and visitors to the area alike making good use of the beer garden over summer.
As has been the norm in the refreshing of pubs over the last few years, the Flying Duck augments the standard macro lagers with a solid range of approachable craft beers including pilsners and pale ales from some of our favourite Australian craft breweries including Hawkers, Moo Brew and Bridge Road, as well as imported beers from American brewers Samuel Adams and Blue Moon.
The interior of the venue is where the results of the renovations are really evident, with a classy but casual feel created by the combination of clean black fittings combined with exposed brickwork and warm, inviting seating arrangements. The inside area also has a full service bar which, in addition to the craft beer selection, offers a decent range of wine and spirits and an excellent range of cocktails.
The menu at the Flying Duck has been designed by head chef Javier Perez and can be best described as modern pub food inspired by a range of cuisines and styles – in the words of the main himself “real food from everywhere, cooked with love”. On the night that we visited we were treated to a range of of small dishes that are examples of the sorts of food that we can expect to see at the Flying Duck over time.
One of my favourite dishes on the night was the lamb momo, which is a Nepalese-style dumpling with lamb and a spicy romesco sauce inside. The lamb and spicy sauce delivered an excellent flavour combination and the dumpling skin held together well without being too thick.
A real surprise packet was the house-made prawn crackers which were nicely spiced and not oily like the usual ‘fried pink discs’ that you often get at Chinese restaurants. Definitely an ideal accompaniment to beers outside on a sunny afterooon.
An interesting variation on Indian street food was the pani puri which rather than being served with traditional Indian spices was filled with manchego cheese and topped with jamon, creating something that tasted like a cross with Spanish tapas.
Another great dish was the soft shell crab slider, which has become a bit of a modern pub staple of late. The Flying Duck version was done with picked vegetables which both gave the slider a good amount of crunch as well as something to cut through the flavour of the soft shell crab batter, as well as jalapeno aioli which provided a bit of kick to round out the dish.
Of course no pub is complete without the traditional parma and on the evening we visited we got to try a ‘mini parma’ which was served over leaves with parmesan on top. This dish was a little bit disappointing as the chicken was a little dry and a parma simply doesn’t feel ‘right’ unless the napoli is on top of the schnitzel with the cheese melted on top. This said, given the bite sized serving this format of presentation is understandable and we would be interested to head back another time and try the full sized parma.
In the end we left the Flying Duck impressed both by the great work that the team had done with the renovation of the venue and also the interesting and varied food on offer. We would definitely recommend that anyone living in or visiting the area head in for a few beers in the sun and a bite to eat in the beer garden.
The Flying Duck Hotel
67 Bendigo Street
Telephone: (03) 9510 8181
E-mail: [email protected]