Look, we’re all for the sort of fancy-pants dining, where waiters deliver you dried husks of mummified kale while performing contortionist stunts, and the bone marrow’s sourced from the bones of Jesus himself. But sometimes, we ain’t got the time, patience or budget for those sort of shenanigans. When you really do just need a slab of expertly cooked red meat, and a small mountain of chips to mop up those precious meaty juices, there’s only one venue that’ll step up to the plate and thankfully—having been closed for renovations earlier this year—it’s now back in our lives and open for business. Say hello to the newly refurbed Station Hotel, king of the Footscray foodies.
As you may already know (or may not, if you’re yet to venture west), The Station Hotel is the cream of the crop when it comes to steak venues in Melbourne. The friendly, no-frills pub, dining area and beer garden combo suffered a fire last year, but has been restored to its former glory that's a favourite with traditionalists. Don’t expect to find your meat covered in a handful of edible flowers, sprinkled with fairy dust: This menu goes hard on the quantity and quality of its cuts of meat, with some seafood, chook and veggie options thrown in for good measure.
Having been on the Melbourne food scene for more years than most, The Station Hotel has a wealth of experience when it comes to finding the best steaks in the country, then cooking them to perfection. The kitchen team aren’t strangers to a cracking steak sauce either. If you sit down to a scotch fillet (or ribeye, or porterhouse) here, you’ll find it served with enough sides and mouth-watering pepper or Béarnaise sauce to feed a footy stadium. And hey, we’re certainly not complaining!
The absolute stand-out on the menu has to be the Sher Wagyu Holstein eye fillet, which sounds like a mouthful, and oh boy, it is. This 200g portion of the finest beef in the state is 100% worth the meat coma you’ll be in after feasting on it. We were lucky enough to try this meaty delight served with a daily special side of beetroot, cherry tomatoes, truffle oil and silky smooth mash. Seriously, if you’re a fan of rare, juicy, thick cuts, this has to be one of the best that’s going.
So, you’re all about size? You’re in luck. The Station Hotel has a 500g Gippsland Black Angus permanently on the menu. If you’ve no idea exactly how much steak a 500g on-the-bone cut is, imagine a dinner plate ENTIRELY MADE OUT OF STEAK. Served with thick-cut wedges, green salad, and all the sauce you can muster, it certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted, but for hungry food fans—it’s heaven.
If you are hankering after something that deviates away from the usual marriage of steak and chips, you’ll find freshly shucked oysters, a drool-worthy chicken parfait (yup, we could eat this with a spoon), and an entire lamb shoulder for sharing—great for summer afternoons with your squad in the beer garden. But the most foodie-worthy small dish award goes to the duck ragu doughnut. Looking exactly like a glazed, jam-filled doughnut, this little beauty comes stuffed full of tender pulled duck and is served on a bed of sweet apple cider sauce. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds, and no, you won’t want to share.
When it comes to a tipple to wash down all that goodness, The Station Hotel keeps a small but perfectly curated selection of wines, designed to match the food menu, and stocks a variety of bottled and tap beers. There’s also a well-rounded cheese and dessert menu for those who can never say no to that third and final course—the vanilla panna cotta with fresh berries is light but flavoursome, and the passionfruit soufflé, cooked to order, is definitely worth the wait.
Over the years, The Station Hotel has become somewhat of an icon in the west, and it’s easy for this reformed vegetarian (yes, really) to see why. Traditional pubs with good, honest menus are a hard thing to get right, especially when Asian-fusion venues with trendy graphics keep popping up in their place. But with food this good, you’ll be too busy lining up your next mouthful after ordering another round for your mates to miss the ironic chopsticks and pseudo-Jap-Korean signage.
The Station Hotel is open seven days a week. To book a table, call 03 9810 0085 or visit the website.
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Image credit: Michelle Jarni for The Urban List