A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published March 23rd 2018
This popular Carlton pub has had a right royal makeover
I recently paid a visit to the Prince Alfred Rooftop and Bar to check it out, as it has undergone a major renovation thanks to new owners 100 Burgers Group (of Welcome to Thornbury, Belles Hot Chicken and Mr Burger fame). The grand old building (built in 1925) has retained its towering facade, while inside, it's looking very sharp and modern.
The Prince Alfred has kept its grand, towering facade
Set over two levels, with multiple drinking/dining spaces, including a rooftop bar and a cafe, the PA seems to have remained a favourite with students from nearby Melbourne University despite the venue's update. $15 parmas on Tuesdays, $15 steaks on Thursdays, $15 express lunch every day, along with 'bottomless pancakes' on Sundays, ensures affordable food for those on a budget. Oh, and did I mention there is a happy hour every day from 4-6pm? $4 pots, $8 pints or $5 for a glass of house red, white or sparkling wine represents good value.
The upstairs bar at the Prince Alfred
However if you're looking for more of a cuisine experience, you won't be disappointed, either. Browsing through the PA's menu, there were a number of delicious sounding dishes, and I had trouble choosing. My partner Dave had arrived before me, starving, and had ordered from the entree selection grilled calamari, roasted chats, fennel, pomegranate and saffron mayonnaise ($13). He enjoyed it so much, he told me I HAD to order another one, which I did, with Dave diving in to help me finish the dish. The calamari was tender, the mayonnaise tangy and worked nicely with the seafood.
Entrees: grilled calamari with roasted chats, fennel, pomegranate and saffron mayonnaise (top) and snap-fried cauliflower with green onion, chilli and tamarind sauce
I also ordered the snap-fried cauliflower, green onion, chilli and tamarind sauce ($9). While it looks a simple dish, the flavours are nothing but. It has a delightful flavour burst from the tamarind that makes it very more-ish; great that it's also a healthy dish that one can eat guilt free!
As a main course, I ordered pork belly with caramelised apple and leek, petite apples and jus ($26). The pork belly was without question the dish of the night. The crackling was perfect, the meat cooked to perfection. If there was one thing I'd do differently, it would be to order some greens to go with the dish, perhaps the baby corn and green beans with Vino Cotto and hazelnut crumb ($10). Pork and apple are of course a match made in heaven, but the combination of the apple and leek, and the petite apples, on the plate, got a bit too apple-y for me.
Pork belly - tender and moist, with perfect crackling. Cracker dish!
Dave admitted to having food envy for the pork belly, despite having ordered the most expensive item on the menu, the 400g Black Angus T-bone ($38). It was a beautiful piece of steak, served with house slaw, and a generous serve of the most delicious fries.
Beautiful big t-bone steak with a generous mound of fries
While we had no room left for dessert, there were a few delicious sounding options. I'd probably go for the fried banana bread with berries, caramel sauce and milk ice cream ($12).
On the drinks side of things, there is a good selection too. There are nine beers (from Australia and the USA) on tap, as well as a wide range of cocktails, and wines from Australia, Spain, Italy and France. I selected the Thievin' Devlin Shiraz, good drinking at $9.50 per glass. You can view the drinks list here.
Overall, it was a lovely meal at the PA, and it's definitely one to put on your dining list. I love what they've done to the place with the refurb, it has such a fresh feel.
The only negative was the noise levels. Not long after we arrived, a group of about 10 took over the tables near us, and the noise became unbearably loud. In search of a quieter table, we headed upstairs, where things were little better, volume wise. We finally settled on a table downstairs, near the main entry, where the noise wasn't overwhelming. One good thing about such a large venue is that you can hopefully find a table that will suit your needs.
The PA is located at 191 Grattan Street Carlton. The pub is open every day from 11.30am til late. The cafe section is open Monday to Friday from 7am - 3pm. (Note the PA is closed for the four days of Easter, re-opening on Tuesday 3rd April.)
Bookings are welcome. You can make a booking by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, phoning (03) 9982 1813, or make an online booking by clicking here.
The images in this article were taken by the writer.