A decade ago I was a regular at the Rose hotel, but times and tastes change. They used to do a good kangaroo steak. Recent concerns about the sale of the venue, the opening of a fancy upstairs bar, then another change of operators, made me uncertain what walking in the door would feel like after not having been there for years.
It’s a relief to see that the front bar is newer and brighter but still recognisable, while the back rooms are almost the same as they were. The new menu is good too, with pub staples and a pleasing wine list, which included a spectacular mataro from Barossa producer Izmay (possibly mislabeled and really their aglianico mataro), which was a bargain at $10 a glass.
We began with ham croquettes, which disappeared in a flash. My friend was determined to have steak and was satisfied with the steak frites ($29), while I was impressed with the parma with fries and salad ($25). These are not bargain pub prices but the quality was evident. The steak was tender and the parma had great flavour, particularly the obviously house-made sauce.
I’ve recently sampled the parma at the Birmingham hotel on Smith St, which has been described as the best in Melbourne (especially on cheap night Tuesday when it is $10 instead of $21). The parma at the Rose is as tender as that at the Birmingham, not quite as large or fat, but with better ham and sauce.
So fear not Fitzroy residents. The new Rose is just refreshed, not destroyed. It’s solid. On a Tuesday night the Birmingham is frantic with parma lovers pursuing a discount parma but price isn’t everything. A Tuesday night at the Rose is relaxed and homey and you’ll want to return.