On a recent weekend I went to the new Stone hotel on the corner of Brunswick and Johnston streets for lunch with a friend. We entered from the Johnston St side and sat in the corner of the room and faced the large open room.
We were greeted by the barman and offered table service rather than ordering at the bar as it was not very busy. A large table in the middle of the room held several couples with babies and a few other couples sat about the room.
The menu is rather interesting, with share plates being a focus. It’s more restaurant than pub. We ordered cheddar and pickled walnut croquettes, lamb ribs with mustard puree (I can’t remember if it had a pumpkin or cauliflower base), bacon doughnuts with bay leaf butter and maple syrup, and carrot and feta salad.
The croquettes were good but the flavour was indistinct. If not for the obvious slices of pickled walnut on top it would not have been obvious what was inside. They rested on a bed of cheddar soil. The carrot salad featured a carrot mash as the base with pieces of carrot on top, feta and mint leaves and crushed nuts. It matched well with the lamb ribs, which were the best dish.
The celebrity dish featuring in a lot of their launch media is the bacon doughnuts. They’re very good – light, fluffy and very yeasty inside, with pieces of bacon in the dough – and crisp outside and very sweet from the maple syrup. It’s enough to make your mouth confused. They’re fun as a novelty but doubt I’d order them again.
The main bar is stylish in the contemporary minimal manner to the point of sparseness. On an average day it’s perhaps too sparse, with lots of space between tables and lots of space for standing about the bar. What we completely failed to notice was the large tv on the wall (we could not see it from our table). On a busy day with the footy on the emptiness of the room would suit a large crowd watching a game.
I’m grateful to the operators for rescuing a fine building and removing the eyesore that the abandoned Cape Live had become. The clean white building has transformed the corner. My friend was demanding the bacon doughnuts so I had to overcome my aversion to going somewhere that doesn’t have the menu in the window so I can peruse before entering.
Their online marketing has been underwhelming. They have the new contentless single landing page website that merely links to other entities, such as their Facebook page. But it has no menu. Why is something so obvious to customers not obvious to business operators. Show me the menu!
On a busy day with the footy on the emptiness of the room would suit a large crowd watching a game. If we had seen it we would have had to choose to sit where we did in order to avoid it. Which is why on my recent visit to the newly renovated Marquis of Lorne we ate in the upstairs room (no tv) rather than in the ground floor bar (tv).
I’d return for the food, which I enjoyed. We didn’t explore the upstairs bar or what looked like a modern accessible toilet courtesy of the new interior fitout. It does well in competition with the other refurbished pubs nearby – the Marquis of Lorne and the Rochester Castle.