I’ve been coming to Brunswick Street in Fitzroy for almost 20 years. I regularly visited this eclectic street to check out my favourite bands either at The Evelyn Hotel or legendary, now defunct, Punters Club. Later on, I started broadening my horizons and began exploring some of the street’s favourite restaurants such as Vegie Bar, Yong Green Food and Afghan Gallery.
I admit, there were many times over the years that I would wander past The Provincial Hotel without even stopping. It was only through a recent discovery of their menu that some vegetarian options revealed themselves; easily veganised for customers like me. My wandering past simply had to stop as I was curious to check this place – and its veggie options – out.
What I’ve always admired about The Provincial Hotel, just by my walk-bys, is its decision to retain its historic pub roots. The exterior of this cornerstone pub is peeling and aged. Its relic-like personality extends inwards where pub-goers wander the front bar for a spot to sink beer and watch football. Towards the rear, The Provincial Hotel spills into a vast dining room complete with a double-storey high ceiling, art-deco light shades, light-globes suspended along wires and exposed brick walls. The Provincial Hotel shows that it’s a casual pub with an intimate area for comforting pub meals in the middle of an icy winter.
The Provincial Hotel provides classic-style pub meals that pub goers would expect. What I find are three sides that can be, collectively, served together to act as a share-plate entrée between friends. I appreciate the waiter’s suggestion to serve them as such. There’s a house salad of capsicum, carrot, lettuce leaves and cabbage, dressed in a light mint and lime dressing and a plate of seasonal steamed vegetables flavoured in lemon. These colourful veggies are drawn together by a crispy and comforting serve of fried chilli potatoes, fitting for a wintery Saturday night. This feast laid in front of us starts off the meal in cosy pub fashion and my bottomless stomach is thankful for it.
The mains menu hints to a vegetable paella and it arrives in front of me in towering fashion. Rice is flavoured richly by tomatoes and more seasonal veggies, all topped by whole grilled field mushrooms and a cheek of lemon for squeezing. This paella is so filling that I need my husband to help me finish it; the perfect sign of a hearty veggie pub meal best enjoyed quietly in winter with those close to you.
Try these veggie pub food choices at The Provincial Hotel. 299 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy Victoria 3065. Phone: 03 9810 0042. Bookings can be made via The Provincial Hotel’s website.
Open Tuesday to Thursday 12noon to 1.00am, Friday to Saturday 12noon to 3.00am and Sundays 12noon to 1.00am.