210 Napier Street
Fitzroy, VIC 3065
Before tapas and clean eating became popular, the corner pub was where it was at. There was no gluten free or organic, just huge, hearty meals served up with a cold pint. The Napier Hotel has honoured the age-old tradition of meat and 3 veg since 1866, and despite the ongoing gentrification of the Fitzroy area, still remains a beloved local watering-hole to this day.
But then again, calling The Napier (The Naps? Nazza?) a corner pub seems like a bit of a short sell. Although the rabbit warren of comfy rooms and well-worn furniture has hardly changed with the years, the menu has kept up with the times. Along with the standard pub meals, there is also a long list of internationally-inspired specials that manages to be exciting, whilst still falling in line with the down-to-earth character of the pub. It’s not quite a gastro-pub, but it’s definitely more than just something to soak up the cheap booze. Call it high quality home-styled fare if you will; kind of like the thing Mrs Weasley would cook up.
I’ll admit, this isn’t my first time at The Napier. I had previously come here with a few work friends, but because I loathe to mix work with leisure, I left the camera at home. On that instance, the parma was ordered, along with a couple of steaks, and I had a really fantastic roo salad. Everything was well-cooked, and came in portions big enough to feed a family of 4. It was definitely more than good enough to warrant a stand-alone review, so here we are.
Speaking of parmas, Chris just couldn’t resist the lure of the Chicken Parmagiana with Smoked Kangaroo, Fries, and Salad ($25). This was everything a parma should be – a thick, juicy chicken fillet, lightly crumbed and topped with fragrant Napoli sauce and melty, chewy cheese. The smoky kangaroo fillet added an extra flavour dimension you usually don’t get, and the sides of chips and salad were top notch. Absolutely no complaints here (but of course, we already knew that)!
I couldn’t resist the Traditional Cassoulet ($25) off the specials menu, especially given how reluctant Spring has been this year in arriving. This thick braise was rich and indulgent, the white beans boiled down to a creamy stew with pieces of smoky bacon rinds and coarse Toulouse sausage. Despite being a small portion, it is unbelievably decadent, and I applaud anyone who can mop this up, and then order dessert.
So there you are: The Napier Hotel is definitely one of the best traditional pubs in Melbourne. And it’s not just nostalgia talking either – this place is the real McCoy.
Rating: 13.5/20 – i can’t believe i just said real mccoy.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.