Note: The Rochester Hotel has revamped its food menu since this article was written. You can read about it here.
MELBOURNE | The Rochester Hotel went from being a grungy dive, and not in a good way, to the kind of place you wanted to hang out in after receiving a much needed makeover in 2015. The makeover kept what was great about what was then called the Rochester Castle Hotel, while getting rid of the stuff that wasn’t working. There’s a stage that sees live bands once a week on Sundays, and DJs playing a mix of old school rock, hip-hop and, the later it get, more danceable party classics, on Friday and Saturday nights.
There are numerous sections depending on your mood. To the left of the front bar are couches to chill out on, and to the other side, opening up towards the back, is the stage and space to dance. Tables for those who want to eat are dotted around the venue too. Upstairs is “The Green Room”, which is used for functions and events like weekly Thursday comedy nights, while outside is a courtyard.
The menu is overseen by Matt Wilkinson (Pope Joan, The Pie Shop), and features spruced up pub food like mac, cheese, and bacon bites with chipotle mayo; falafel balls with tahini yoghurt and foraged leaves, and and Milawa free range chicken kiev with beer battered chips and Italian slaw. There are classics like steak, burgers and fish and chips, all with a focus on local, fresh ingredients, and a lot of vegetarian options, all of which can be made vegan on request.
The drinks menu is a cut above the usual, with 10 taps pouring mostly local craft beers, and cans featuring both mainstream brews and more crafty options. The wine list is mostly local and quality too, while the cocktails are also worth checking out – the “Rum DMC” with Plantation 5yr Barbados rum, maple, chocolate, macadamia bitters and spice, is one of our favourites
The Rochester Hotel
202 Johnston Street
Mon – Thu: 3:00pm to 1:00am
Fri – Sat: 12:00pm to 3:00am
Sun: 12:00pm to 11:00pm