Sunday for many Australians is the official day of rest and one of the most traditional ways to spend a Sunday is to enjoy a long, lazy lunch with those you love.
Sunday lunches were always a tradition in my family when I was younger, and Sundays meant that Dad would cook an amazing meal all morning for us to devour in the afternoon. As the years went by and our lives became busier, the Sunday lunch started to disappear. So, I always meet a Sunday lunch invitation with much anticipation and excitement. When a family member invited me to a Sunday birthday lunch, my RSVP was a rhetoric one – I was there.
My invitation for Sunday lunch involved a sunny, carefree drive along Wellington Road in Melbourne’s far-east to bring me to the sleepy and leafy suburb of Clematis in the Dandenong Ranges. It’s one of Melbourne’s smaller suburbs, punctuated by only a fire station, a pub, a railway station, the odd shop or two and a community hall. Very sleepy indeed, and there was no mystery as to where lunch was planned. Destination was set for Paradise Valley Hotel.
This country-esque pub borders a roundabout on a main road along which day-trippers meander into the emerald distance. Within the pub there is a vast bistro, hugged by a roaming verandah that takes advantage of mild, spring afternoons. Tables on the verandah enjoy a picturesque outlook of lush hillside, manicured garden and a cute railway track.
This railway track leads the iconic Puffing Billy steam train past the pub a couple of times a day. Passengers wave to diners enjoying their Sunday digs and a lazy Sunday session is played out in the garden below; dulcet tones over an acoustic guitar linger along the verandah. A walk through the garden is a peaceful start to a lunch, and wandering a path lined by lavender brings visitors closer to the railway track.
While a Sunday lunch is one of my favourite things in the world, finding a pub that can cater for a vegan diet can be a little testing. Still, Paradise Valley Hotel did its accommodating best and happily offered its char-grilled vegetarian stack sans feta. The meal was a lovely light lunch choice, albeit my only choice; a colourful stack of grilled aubergine, capsicum and pumpkin with glazed tomatoes and a side of white, fluffy rice. The stack settled atop a drizzling of balsamic glaze and the meal as a whole was enjoyable.
It was a little disappointing to see that other meals being delivered to the table were larger in size in comparison to the char-grilled stack. Though, the stack filled my tummy without leaving me feeling bloated. A soy latte post-meal topped off my lazy, Sunday lunch, allowing me more time to delight in the warm weather.
Take a drive out to Clematis for a Sunday pub lunch at Paradise Valley Hotel, 249 Belgrave-Gembrook Road, Clematis Victoria 3782. Phone: 03 5968 4037.