Cuisine Undercover - The Woolshed Pub - 4 Stars
The Woolshed Pub
That liquor licensing woman, Sue Maclellan, is actually quite a nice lady you know. She gave me a lift home from a function once – it may not surprise you to know that she, of course was sober and I, of course, was not.
Nice lady aside, I’ll never quite understand why she kept us waiting so long for The Woolshed Pub & Bistro. No, I am not one of those locals that feels the need to fight for my right to (not) party every time a new venue is proposed – if you want to be a NIMBY for god’s sake, don’t move into a half-completed urban metropolis that’s been positioning itself as becoming Melbourne’s thriving, waterfront, tourist and entertainment destination since the dawn of time, smack bang in the middle of the city. Move to … Gippsland or somewhere and get out of culture’s way.
For The Woolshed, like all of Atlantic’s venture’s to date, is a cracker and frankly, precisely what the “dead middle” of Docklands needed. The venue knows exactly what it wants to be and nails it. A quality pub, which really celebrates its location and venue.
The history of the former wool storage shed is saluted through carefully restored beams and features, and the experience of being able to sit almost right on the beautiful old pier’s edge, while smelling the (admittedly, quite manky) water, really is something quite unique to Docklands.
The space inside is really quite huge, but cleverly divided into subtle sections, with extensive outdoor, wind-protected seating in both the sun and shade. The overall effect somehow manages to create both an air of intimacy – despite the soaring ceilings – while also giving the impression you’re still right amongst it in a very happening place.
The menu is precise, perfectly matching the vibe – relaxed, low key, not overly ambitious and exactly what you’d want from a quality pub. Split into shares, starters, mains and sides (ooh, one minor gripe – I DO hate having to pay for fries, even if they’re quality hand-cut fat chips like these ones!), there’s not too much to choose from under each section but the choices available are just right!
The chilli salted squid with rocket and red pepper almond salsa was big enough to share for light eaters and though a tad chewy, boasted a deliciously subtle coating where the chilli and salt rested in harmony, not trying to outdo each other with their kick. Which was particularly pleasing as the red pepper almond salsa also sang a fine, nutty tune worth hearing.
And oh, the power of a few little words. Put a veal parmigiana on the menu and I’m always happy. Add the words “milk fed” in front of it, and I’m salivating! I’m sure most little baby bovines are always going to be tender enough, but there’s something about those words, “milk fed …”, that just do it for me every time. Fresh tomato and blobs of real mozzarella and provolone sealed the deal (although I should have forked out the extra eight bucks for those chips!).
My friend was also very satisfied with her “grass fed” (again with the words!) porterhouse, the mushroom sauce boasting big, fat mushies in a liquid she felt was a little thin, but still bursting with flavour and freshness.
We couldn’t fit in desert but I’m comforted just knowing there’s a sticky date pudding with vanilla bean ice cream and butterscotch sauce on the menu for when next I return. Which will be soon, I assure you.
Perhaps I’ll take Sue …