Percy’s Bar at the Astor Hotel

Thursday 31 May, 2012

It was Thelma’s turn tonight and she opted for Percy’s Bar.  There was a moments confusion when were planning our journey as she was determined that Percy’s was on the corner of Lygon and Alexandra Pde, whereas I ‘knew’ it was Lygon and Elgin.  We knew if we walked down Lygon st one of us would be proved right; and I was!

Walking down Lygon Street means running the gauntlet of the spruikers from the phalanx of Italian restaurants that Lygon street, especially at the city end.  This is a tedious process, and tests the patience, how many times does Signora have to say “no thanks” when asked if we want to see the menu for dinner and “no, we don’t care if it is warm inside” – we are feeling decidedly frosty out here.

I understand that everyone needs to make a living but I would like to offer the following advice to the Lygon St Spruikers Guild.  When you are purposefully  walking and talking down the street, not strolling, looking  wistfully into windows like something out of Lady and the Tramp, there are no signals that we are in need of garlic bread and carbonara of any sort, if you need to say something, try,” lovely evening” and maybe next time when I am in the need of carbonara, I will come to your establishment.

Anyhow having fought our way through “Little Italy”, we were at Percy’s Bar at the Astor Hotel, on the corner of Elgin Street.  Percy’s is a well know establishment, owned by Percy Jones, a legendary Carlton football player, he must  be legendary as I know about him and my football knowledge is limited to the odd fact I have picked up from my Geelong mad aunty, “Go Catters!”.

Now before you say “Bar”?!”, Percy’s is a pub in the classic  tradition, there is a front bar, populated by classic style patrons and at the back is the bistro, I assume, in times gone by it was “the lounge”.

We went in through the bistro, did discuss whether we could eat there but then determined that in the spirit of The Quest ‘bistro’ did not fit in to The Rules.  We managed to get the only table in the bar, next to the Hot Cupa Nutz machine  and sat under the shrine to the Carlton Football club, dominated by a photo of Perce and Alex Jesaulenko holding a cup aloft.  Don’t expect more details as that is stretching the limits of my footy knowledge, and Thelma knows decidedly less that I do on matters of the local religion.

Looking round I realised two things, we were the only women in the bar area, and when ‘young people’ came in to the pub, they avoided the main bar and its regulars and congregated at the end near the bistro,that was their place.

Sitting, holding court on the other side of the bar was Perc himself.  The general bar chatter was football and Carlton in particular and the regulars looked to Percy for acknowledgment and approval of their ideas.  As one said:”He’s the boss, the Buddha”.

The menu in the bar was limited and classic:, chips, sausage and mash, steak and naturally a parma and chips .  Thelma opted for steak, feeling in need of the iron, I was not inspired until I saw that you could have corned beef, from the bistro menu.  Now in my thinking corned beef is a pub bar meal, I would never have ordered the roast duck, that would be far to fancy but after consultation it was agreed that corned beef fitted into our remit and budget. And can I say it was delicious!  The meals were excellent.   Thelma had  rump steak with chips and paid a bit extra for salad, but with this she also got a free pot. Now salad in many pubs can be a few tired leaves and a bit of tomato, but not here it was fresh and plentiful, the steak was cooked to her liking “on the medium side of rare” and the chips were plentiful but not over whelming.

My corned beef was better than my Nanna used to make who tended to boil things into submission , with mash, fresh  broccoli peas and beans that weren’t cooked within an inch of their lives.  There was a small dish of sauerkraut and mustard sauce to pull the whole thing together.  Again, fresh and delicious.

The beer, well given that the signage throughout the bar was Carlton, so it was not a surprise that the only beer on tap was Carlton Draught.  Other beers could be had in a bottle, and I guess at a price, but that would break the rules.

All up, our dinner cost $45, and I would have to say good value as well as delicious.

On our way out, use the facilities, it’s a long walk home you know, Lygon St to Merri Station.  Have to say that I was bemused but the advertisement in the ladies, it was  a poster for steak.  Perhaps it could be seen as a health message to encourage women to increase their  iron uptake.

Just a comment on the “Walk” part of our evening, I was injured in the line of duty. Note to self: trim toe nails before undertaking significant walk in boots or the results can be ugly.

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