Heathcote is a small town found in the heart of Central Victoria – right in the middle of the McHarg and McIvor Ranges. Establishing itself as a prime wine region Heathcote boasts a range of great food, cellar doors and the easy lifestyle that can only be found in a small town.
Being just a short drive from Bendigo and the residence of choice for my father we went there over the weekend to celebrate his birthday. As you do when commemorating the anniversary of someones birth we went out for dinner. The venue for this occasion was of course Dad's local; the Commercial Hotel.
The bistro area of the pub is located via the side door and down a wheel chair accessible ramp (I note this only out of visual inspection – no one in the party is wheel chair bound and the ease of access isn't confirmed).
To mark the occasion the establishment had decorated the mirrors and table with Happy Birthday paraphernalia. This was a nice touch and we noticed that another table had these adornments as well. The team was more than happy to bring out a cake that we had brought in earlier from the bakery. So it can be said that the Commercial Hotel is very accommodating when their customers are celebrating their birthday.
No table service was offered but the ordering process was quite smooth. A small window into the kitchen surrounded by the menu and specials boards is where you place your orders and you pay for your meals then and there. This cuts out the awkward realization of "no split bills" when the check comes like at other establishments.
Our party consisted of twelve fussy adults and one even fussier child. Once we had all ordered and sat down again the meals started coming out quickly and the large variety of meals were presented well. The only complaint I would have at this stage was that the one kids meal was the last to reach the table. This was quickly sorted out by some chips being donated by various dinner guests around the table but if you have some hungry children in your party just request theirs to come out first. The service is great and I'm sure that they would be more than happy to oblige.
The meals were HUMUNGOUS. Let it be said that you will never leave the Commercial Hotel feeling hungry.
With such a large table we got to taste a range of dishes from the menu and everyone commented on the quality of food. The seafood plate affectionately named "The Neptune" was overflowing with various creatures from the ocean all cooked to perfection.
The Commercial favourite "Chicken Camembert" was to die for – a meal that my father orders nearly every time. All of the steaks were huge and cooked exactly as ordered (our party ranged from rare through to well-done).
A quirk of the Commercial Hotel is the way they serve their vegetable sides. When you order a meal with "chips and veg" as a side you will get your chips served up on your place (overflowing) and an empty bowl. From there you are directed to the bain-marie full of vegetables. This is great if you want to stock up on your health foods or if you have a picky vegetable eater.
All in all it was a great experience at the Commercial Hotel. The staff was great – happy to have a chat and quick to help us out with all of our requests. The food was awesome and plentiful. The drinks were very affordable and served with a smile. What more could you ask for from the local? If you're travelling through or looking for a good, hearty pub meal in Heathcote then look no further than the Commercial Hotel.