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Published June 11th 2012
Get your motor running, get out on the highway. Motorcyclists have known for ages the joys of getting on the road and working up a big appetite in the fresh air. Part of this pilgrimage usually involves a good pub meal for lunch, and a favourite destination on the fringes of Melbourne has long been the Panton Hill Hotel.
Weekend bikers enjoy lunch at the Panton Hill Hotel
Established in the early 1900s, the Panton Hill Hotel has a long and varied history, but in recent times has established itself as a venue for a solid, value-for-money lunch or dinner.
Thanks to renovations in the past few months, the dining room has been extended and opened up, and presents a comfortable room that accommodates even large groups. An open fire that is slightly off-centre in the room adds some character and creates a slightly more private area near the kitchen for smaller groups. However, this area also abuts the entrance, so on cold nights might not be the best choice if you want to avoid a draught.
The other side of the room is dominated by the ornate bar, and on Saturday nights the back corner is occupied by live bands. In warmer weather, there is a large outdoor area where you can sit and enjoy your meal or just a cold one.
We visited on a wintry night, and it was lovely to walk through the bistro door into the warm and welcoming dining room. Despite being very early, right at the start of the dinner period (early dinners are the go for us due to having a pre-schooler with us), we were acknowledged with a friendly welcome by the staff who were completing the room set-up.
After settling down with a pre-dinner drink, we perused the menu, which is a solid mix of traditional pub meals and a few more interesting variations; perfectly suited to families. There was only one entrée ordered in our group, the Tempura Battered Soft Shell Crab served with lemon and garlic aioli, which was generous and delicious ($15.00).
Our mains included Chicken Parma ($21.50), Beef and Guinness Pie ($22.50), Linguini with Prawns ($24.00), and Risotto of Chicken, Mushrooms, Bacon, Leek and Spinach ($22.00).
Every dish was huge, and the chicken parma and beef and Guinness pie were served with the usual chips and salad or vegetables. Both of these were given the thumbs up by our companions – perhaps not the most exciting meals, but tasty, satisfying and a decent serve for the price.
The risotto was loaded with all the ingredients listed, but still was a little bland – perhaps a stronger stock required? The linguini was excellent, just the right level of spiciness and lots of flavour, with a good number of prawns.
We were too full for dessert so I can't report on that, though I would have loved to have tried the White Chocolate and Crème Fraiche Mousse with Passionfruit Syrup ($8.50). I can report that the service was quick and friendly yet there was no hovering, so we felt quite comfortable sitting and letting our meals settle over a couple more glasses of wine.
The pub has a kids' menu which, apart from the usual chicken nuggets, pasta, and fish and chips, also includes a roast option. The side dish menu again includes the usual suspects (garden salad, steamed vegetables, bowl of chips) plus a nice little extra – a bowl of mashed potato. Though I'm not sure how you could fit it in with a main meal; perhaps it would be manageable with an entrée.
The public bar next door was packed full, and if you decide to just pop in for a drink you can order food from the bar menu.
Bar: Lunch is served 12 until 2pm and dinner between 6pm and 8pm
Bistro: lunch between 12 noon and 2.30pm or for dinner from 6pm until 8.30pm any day of the week.
Bar menu: from $5.50 for a bowl of chips or $6.00 for soup of the day, up to $18.50 for a rump steak.
Bistro menu: Entrees $6.00-$14.50, mains $19.50-$25.90, desserts $7.50-$8.50.
Seniors menu: 1 course - $12.50, 2 courses - $15.50, 3 courses – $18.50
633 Kangaroo Ground-St Andrews Rd, Panton Hill
Ph: (03) 9719 7270