Trevor Pepys reviews the Imperial Hotel, Eumundi.
If there’s one thing that Trev hates more than a wine list that starts at $60, it’s a craft market, particularly one full of crocheted doggie vests and tie-dyed muscle tees.
But here he was, trying to court favour with a murderous missus, after over-sipping at a Friday night beer-storming session with the lads, laden with stuff we neither needed nor really wanted, wandering up and down the aisles at the big daddy of craft markets, Eumundi, with a forced grin on his dial.
“Pub lunch companions if ever I saw them!” boomed a familiar voice from the shadows of a marquee where he lay on a bench and seemed to be receiving shiatsu massage while simultaneously having his Tarot cards read. The voice belonged to one of the most powerful men in the shire, feared and revered in equal measure. Of course Trev can’t reveal his identity here, so let’s just call him “Tom”.
Tom suggested the top verandah of the Imperial Hotel and Trev was set to cut and run immediately, but the missus had other ideas. She needed to find hand-carved drink coasters and needed a bag man to carry them, so it was agreed we would reconvene when the clock struck 12 and it was cocktail hour somewhere.
As we trudged up the stairs of the splendid 110-year-old establishment after what can only be described as an excruciating morning of wallet-lightening, Trev felt a surge of relief and familiarity. It had been quite a while, but there was a time, back when Eumundi Lager was young and Trev used to get paid in it for helping then-pub and brewery boss Bruce Wall come up with silly marketing concepts. Some very silly ideas were concocted over long meetings at a shady table, lubricated by lashings of this fine drop.
Inevitably, the big boys at Carlton and then what is now known as Lion, grabbed hold of the operation and eventually phased the micro-brewery out and in 2004 killed the Eumundi brand completely. But it came back a handful of years ago, and this time the corporates saw the value in brewing on premises. Fortunately, the revived Eumundi Lager is better than ever, and it gets better with every schooner!
Of course, there would be no such nonsense today, the missus said with her eyes, but Tom was already at it, beers appeared ($10), and soon we were joined by the former most powerful man in the shire, and his good lady wife. Since Trev was the least powerful person at the table, possibly in the hemisphere, but knows more than any 10 men about pub grub, ordering was left to him.
Because we were all on different poisons, we drank by the glass throughout, some on the soft stuff, some on the alcoholic Eumundi Ginger Beer ($10) and the missus on the house Pinot Grigio ($10).
Feeling good now, Trev just ordered the whole snack menu and suggested we share.
Missus No 1 had the orange, fennel and rocket salad with roasted walnut, feta, roast beetroot, butternut pumpkin and lemon thyme dressing ($20). Sadly, she reported that the walnuts were rancid and spoiled an otherwise good salad. But at least they were Australian, not Chinese.
Trev and the former power hitter had the tuna tataki, crusted tuna on a black brioche bun with Asian slaw, and aoli served with sweet potato fries ($23). FPH thought the tuna was nicely seared and under-cooked which is how he likes it, but it probably needed a little more spice, maybe a hint of wasabi to give it a bit of zing.
Trev and his missus also shared the pulled beef tacos with caramelised onion, hummus, rocket, cherry tomato salsa and shawarma ($21), which were very tasty. Tom opted for chicken pasta off the specials’ board ($26), which came with lashings of parmesan. He declared it delightful, very more-ish.
The verdict: So, overall nothing particularly special, but a good wholesome round of tasty pub grub in a convivial and historic place. The perfect antidote to a morning of market madness. Or bliss heaped upon bliss, if you ask the missus.
Imperial Hotel, Eumundi, phone 5442 8811.