Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the McKinnon Hotel
251 McKinnon Road, McKinnon
Visited on February 9, 2018
Second Review. (last circa 2010)
A modern broom has made some excellent changes to the McKinnon since the last visit, and has elevated this pub from the stock standard, to a shining beacon in the S-East.
Old bits of this/that has been replaced and freshened with sandblasted walls, modern front bar with gleaming timber, new looking beer garden, and alfresco dining room added. This is a pub investing in the infrastructure – the main dining room with exposed kitchen has a 100 yards on what was there 8 years ago and the package delivers a most comfortable community hub.
The darkish grey painted exterior hasn’t changed (good).
The McKinnon runs a small TAB (and it is very well set out) and pokies (which are set away from the other areas. The trick to achieve here is not to rid itself of the comfortable traditions and the front bar retains that rectangular shape so if you mate is across the bar, they are only 3 feet away.
Food and drink is ramped up also and the menu reflects a modern approach. For sure it is pitched slightly higher, but there is a good shave if you wish to sample from the bar menu.
The renovations have worked a treat. Well done to all, this is a good offer.
Once you read the menu, it is easy to see that the pub is trying to elevate itself as a provider of good, hearty meals with a bit of dash. To be honest, it is a priced a little higher than standard suburban pubs, but there is a real effort going in.
Crispy Otway Pork belly, (18.5e//29m) slow cooked for 12 hrs with ginger and star anise, served with asian slaw and sticky burnt orange and plum sauce to me sums up what the pub is looking to achieve.
Ditto bbq NZ King salmon on a spicy mango, citrus, avocado and coriander salad with ginger aioli and truffle oil and sherry vinegar dressing (33).
That is not to say pub classics have been abandoned. Big pub burger – sher wagyu, full whack – is 23, while a 3 cheese Chicken Parma, again full whack is $27.
Entrees (more half share) $17, mains $30, desserts $12.
Pork Sausages, cheesy mash, smoked bacon, parsley onion rings, peas, red wine gravy. $26.90. Good. Sourced from one of australia’s finest producers – Andrews – these big pork bangers (2) were superior and cleaner in taste, and with the full plate of mash and vegetables made this is a great pub meal.
Curry of the day. $24. Good. Lamb rogan josh, pappadums, coconut rice, raita. Medium sized bowl of tender lamb curry is presenting most engagingly, and the supporting actors all blend in. You can have it in 3 levels, mild, medium, hot. Hot was closer to mild (for me), but it was a good main.
Cinnamon doughnuts, Valrhona chocolate and brandy sauce, homemade raspberry and orange jam, Madagascan vanilla bean ice-cream. $12.90. Good. Nugget sized, (rather than larger, rounder) dense in texture, smothered in the excellent sauce, a plate of 4 of these bad boys is a very sweet finish.
Lion Nathan products dominate here – Boags, Hahn, James Squires (full range), Carlton D, along with some from smaller brewers. No faults with taste or glassware, prices standard for a pot (5-5.5). Wine also was priced a little under standard pricing (good) of 8.5/38. Well known brands, tried was a acme Australian producer of Riesling – Pewsey Vale at $38/bottle.
SERVICE AND STYLE:
Rarely do I single out of staff in reviews but here it is a must. Mine host in the bistro, Tannith, worked the tables effortlessly, and engage familiar and strangers equally. Big, Big Tick. Rest of the staff worked as a team and you would have to be a hard marker to dislike the service.
There are some pubs that seem out of place with their environs, but the McKinnon blends in perfectly. The renovation here has been executed very well and so spreading out in modern pub comfort is here in spades. All ages appeal means this is safe, cosy pub going.
Pleasing the wonderful old front bar’s makeover should not scare off barflys and is tastefully done.
No shortcomings with an easy to like offer, makes the McKinnon a fine suburban option.