677 Bourke Street Melbourne, Victoria 300003 9629 4214
|Opening hours||Daily 11am-late|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
|Payments||AMEX, Mastercard, Visa, eftpos|
There are skanky old pubs, tricked-up gastropubs and, somewhere in between, there’s the Savoy Tavern, a long-derelict 1970s public house that’s been polished into a bright, welcoming hangout. Opposite Southern Cross station, it’s a more appealing waiting room than the draughty platforms, especially with a basket of onion rings by your side. The Savoy is also a shoo-in for strategy meetings before matches at Etihad Stadium and, if you get too cosy to move, all games are screened live.
The beer is upscale, there’s a handy wine list, and the food is decent, within narrow parameters of fried stuff or stuff stuffed in bread. The beef burger stays on message with a juicy enough patty, spongy roll, classic toppings and a generous handful of fries.
A lamb shoulder roll tries a bit harder: the meat is slow-braised, stuffed in a long roll and topped with radish slices, peas and mint.
Cauliflower salads with Middle Eastern leanings are all the rage but the Savoy’s isn’t a great example. The grilled florets are too big and almost raw and the tahini, pomegranate and sultana fixings are applied with a clumsy hand. Stick to the onion rings – hot, crisp, totally tasty. The food is cheap but it’s a complete steal from Monday to Thursday when $10 buys you a meal and a beer.
The Savoy is so comfortable that a bloke fell asleep last time I was there. The measure of the place is that the staff tactfully managed the situation. Other patrons included a recently manicured hen’s night crew, a clutch of conspiratorial fellows with a bottle of red, and chatty older couples with train tickets in hand. The mood was hail-fellow-well-met, reminding me of pubs pre-wagyu burgers, when you could play PacMan for 20 cents, and the carpet was flat and tacky from a million saunters to the bar and a million drops spilt on the way back. The Savoy channels all that without being self-consciously retro. It’s a great addition to a hitherto tavernless part of town.
Rating: Three stars (out of five)