Town Hall Hotel

Amnesty Series

Please note: This blog post is being published as part of my Amnesty Series – where I am catching up on reporting about all the wonderful eating I’ve been doing over the last 3 months.  Apologies for being so woefully behind and thanks for your patience.  If you decide to visit the Town Hall Hotel, please bear in mind that some items may no longer be available due to the seasonality of menus.

Town Hall Hotel

166 Johnson Street
Fitzroy  3065
Website

The Town Hall Hotel has been on my list of must visits for a while now – it’s got a hat in the respected Age Good Food Guide, and is also run by luminary chef Harry Lilai who took Cecconi’s to great heights when it was at the Crown complex.  I have very fond memories of a particularly good osso bucco at that fine establishment – and I haven’t met its equal yet!

We settled into the airy soaring dining room and pondered the menu – much of which is written up on the huge mirror on the wall over my head. I craned my neck around to read them, although have to admit that our waitress was very good at explaining them and keeping our order relatively simple (which meant I didn’t get a crick in my neck!).  There was a lot of seduction going on with that mirror – and I was particularly drawn to the many tapas offerings.  We whittled it down to two selections as our entrées.

Chorizo & grapes

BBQ Chorizo with grapes

A really great, classic pairing – the rich fattiness and spiciness of the chorizo beautifully foiled by the sweetness of the grapes.

Quail

Crispy Chilli Quail

Because it’s been a while since we ate this meal, I can’t remember a lot about this quail – it was served pretty simply, and we had to cleave it ourselves.  My vague recollection was that there were a few bones, but unfortunately – it might have to remain a mystery!

Bread

Steak

250g Eye Fillet Steak, Kilcoy, QLD

Andrew naturally checked out the steak – which he found to be quite alright, but not in his top 5.  All the steaks are served with potato gratin (a favourite), macerated onion and a choice of red wine jus, salsa verde or garlic butter.

Ox cheek

Beef cheek, polenta, tongue

I find it difficult to go past a slow braised beef cheek with polenta – it’s one of my particular weaknesses.  This was a beautiful example – with the meat falling apart. Delicious!  The tongue was an interesting piece of meat – not my favourite part of the beast, although this was quite tender.  Overall, a great dish.

Radicchio salad

Radicchio salad

I opted for some greens – to cut through the richness of the beef cheek. The salad was simply, and beautifully dressed.  There was a bit too much parmesan for me – but otherwise it was delicious and worked well with my main.

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

Mmmm… tiramisu! Where can you go wrong with sponge soaked in strega, kahula and coffee, and layered with creamy marscapone cream.  This was a very good rendition – one of the better ones I’ve tasted, and something I would definitely order again.

Overall, the Town Hall Hotel is a solid gastropub.  I wasn’t blown away by the food – but thought everything was solidly executed and represented simple, Italian cuisine. I am a bit bemused that it holds a one hat status – I didn’t think our dining experience there reached the heights of an Estelle, or a Grossi Florentino.  Maybe I’m missing something?  I would like to come back some time to try the pasta… and you never know… maybe that osso bucco will find its way onto the menu again!

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