MELBOURNE | Want to escape the city but still enjoy all the culinary gastropub comforts you’re used to? The Park Hotel Werribee might be the your best move. A 45-minute train ride out of Melbourne city, The Park Hotel, a spacious bar and beer garden, is known for two very important things, an interesting and every-changing menu, and possibly the most-extensive craft beer selection in Metro zone 2.
Let’s start with the menu. To dine at the The Park Hotel is often to break the status quo, usually in the best possible way. While they keep a stable of parmas and burgers on hand for the less adventurous, when we visited we also had the choice of gourmet pizzas, which were a part of the menu for this period. Of course, experimentation comes at a cost, with the pub’s near-legendary macaroni and cheese burger having come and gone from the menu. But this loss is perhaps a small price to pay to try something new. Because, like a good degustation, all this menu experimentation is the perfect match for the modern craft beer culture.
In this case, the burger was perhaps a bit too far on the experiemental side, with the unusual addition of kale instead of lettuce detracting from the otherwise fine quality ingredients.
As for the pizza, it wasn’t too cheesy as the picture would suggest and worked as a more upmarket version of the kind of pizza that you’d expect to find at a pub. This isn’t your traditional wood-fired Italian pizza and in the context of the pub it provides a tasty, filing choice.
Where in the past we all had our signature beer, perhaps a particular brand or style, today’s drinking culture is one of testing and trying, meaning if something new is on offer then something new is what we drink. With this ethos clearly casting a long shadow on the menu at the Park Hotel, it’s not difficult to fathom that this is a pub also known for its craft beer. It has a constantly changing tap list, often with exclusives (or exclusive as it gets without brewing your own), and a pages-long bottle list that would rival many actual bottle shops. There are the standard beers too, should your curiosity be taking a break, but we don’t think you should pay too much attention to those.
We also recommend making the most of your trip out west and stopping by the Junction Hotel. It’s a quick walk from Newport train station and one that you will likely find highly rewarding if you need some sustenance on the way to or from Werribee. You can also visit the good people at Two Birds Brewery located in Spotswood, just up the road from Newport, but we recommend checking their opening hours before planning this stop.
For Melbourne city dwellers it might take a little planning to make this journey, and even more planning to get home, but we think it’s very worth it. The Park Hotel is one of those gems that should have Werribee residents feeling rightly smug about their local.
The Park Hotel
12 Watton Street
Wed – Sun: 12:00pm to late