Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Great Western Hotel, Ballan
Great Western Hotel
110 Inglis Street, Ballan.
When? November 20, 2020.
Trading for as little as two weeks, the renovated and remodelled Great Western Hotel Ballan (GWB) has hit the ground running.
To assemble a great team working the floor, having a gorgeous colourful and bright front bar and then backing this up with on point, better level food and drink is astounding in my opinion.
The pub is still a work in progress, but once you enter and see the colourful pieces with a 60s/70s feel to them scattered throughout, with local artworks adorning the freshly painted walls, you become so comfortable with the surroundings. You already sense something good.
The menus are interesting but the highlight for me is the gorgeous tavern style bar to hang around and enjoy the very good tap beer. A small bottle shop abuts the bar for a take home.
Covid adherence was strictly observed and merely 20 or so patrons enjoyed all of this. (More after 23/11/20).
With accommodation and a roof top beer garden to follow, this pub will be better in 2021. But for now the GWB is a belter.
The best thing about the Great Western Ballan? It is still a pub. Book and go.
The pub pitches higher in food and drink, but the quality is there. Vital to its pub DNA is the tap beer. Here 7oz glasses of Carlton Draught, Moon Dog Old Mate Pale, Beechworth Little Bling, Mountian Goat Steam are available and all sizes after that 200ml vessel. Genuinely looked after properly with glassware, chill and taste.
For sure the mains are priced a bit higher, but not outrageously so. For $50, feeds 2, is the mixed grill. Pork Chop, Lamb Rissole, Pork/Fennel snag, garlic/rosemary scotch fillet, cherry tomato skewer, egg, bacon, relish, salsa verde, chips. Why not? There’s a herb crusted cauliflower steak, grains, chutney (25) or Pork schnitzel, apple/fennel slaw, chips (34). There’s a bit of food envy as it arrives to another table.
And yes, there’s a parma, panko crumbed, 3 cheeses, chips, salad. (29).
There is some serious pub cooking going on at the Great Western Ballan.
- BBQ Pork Sliders, coleslaw, bread and butter pickle. 3 for $18. Toasted Brioche, crunchy, meaty, fatty pork, fresh fillings, this is as good as you will get them anywhere.
- Lemon crusted Barramundi, chats, red cabbage, beans, lemon. $36. Big slab, great fish, excellent spud and veg, just a tad florid by describing the beans as ‘hand picked’! Its still a pub in Ballan!
- Gummy Shark, 2 fillets, chips, salad, housemade tartare. $29. Yes to everything, outstanding crisp batter. Salad so fresh, a feature so often dismissed/ignored by pubs. Important.
- Rocky Road Smash. $14. Picture this. 2 pieces – good size – chocolate brownie, marshmallows, roasted peanuts, white chocolate mousse, Turkish delight, fresh raspberries, cocoa bombs, chocolate cage. (More pergola than cage!). A deconstructed dessert that delivers a fantastic sweet hit to finish.
What has been achieved is a short space of time is fabulous. While working during Covid on the refit, to get such an offer is exceptional. Right staff, right food and drink, right comfort levels.
Given that the excellent team behind the high end Farmers Arms pub in Daylesford is involved only partly explains how good this offer is – the staff assembled here could easily have been here for 30 years, such is the ease in which everything is done.
It’s an hour from town. Looking for the great Sunday drive and support a small pub while getting the plaudits from friends? As Paul Roos said after the Swans won their first flag in 72 years – ‘Well here it is!!’
Go. I think you’ll like.