A balmy summer evening, dining al fresco, good friends as company, a couple of drinks, tasty familiar pub grub that won’t break the bank, a night off cooking, lots of chatter and laughter, happy kids eating and playing… that was our dinner in a nutshell at the Great Northern Hotel.
The Great Northern Hotel, located on one of my favourite Melbourne streets – beautiful, tree-lined Rathdowne St in North Carlton, really is a great place to dine with the kids. There’s no pokies or tacky play area to be seen, however there may be the odd bogan or two nursing a pot (he he) but that’s pretty much standard in any Melbourne pub. It’s just a good, simple, local pub in a really nice pocket of Melbourne.
The Pub itself is nothing special (not like some of the new uber-cool ones with fit-outs by Six Degrees and the like), however what is kind of special is the huge beer garden out the back. You can even enter via a ramp from the street, so no need to even walk through the front bar, and when we arrived recently for tea with friends (at 5.30pm of course), the beer garden was positively brimming with families and prams.
Not only is there the easy ramp access and plenty of room for prams, but there’s also plenty of highchairs, a box of toys including Thomas the Tank trains, little racing cars and games, and a special kids colouring in menu as well as crayons and coloured pencils. On offer for the kidlets is a $12 meal-deal for 2 courses plus a juice, soft drink or babycino. We are in a pub after all, so of course there are the standard options of chicken nuggets and chips or fish bites and chips, but there’s also a healthier option too of grilled chicken salad, and penne bolognese which my little one had and was a very generous serve so was also enjoyed by hubby too (like his HUGE parma and chips wasn’t enough!). Then for dessert there are much loved favourites including frog in a pond and an ice-cream sundae.
For the big kids, it’s standard pub-grub done well and with generous serving sizes. Chicken parmas, steak, calamari, burgers, risotto, pasta, pizza, salad and chips…. really good beer battered chips at that, they are yummy and crispy (and oh so naughty too!) . You order and pay at the counter, and just buy your drinks as you go as you would at any pub, so if you are dining with other families there’s no worries about splitting the bill and working out who pays for what, making life that little bit simpler.
We really enjoyed dining in the beer garden, however there are just a couple of drawbacks…. the first one is smokers. Need I say more? And the second thing is that even though it is a very large space, in some parts it was quite crammed with not a lot of room between tables (and also chairs that are quite bulky) which makes it a bit squishy and a bit of an obstacle course when getting in and out. And as parents of little ones too, then I am sure you can appreciate the amount of getting up and down you need to do, not to mention chasing after your escaping toddler.
This pub is not only kid-friendly, but is also dog-friendly too judging by the amount of dogs dining in the beer garden with their owners. The pub also has a resident pooch who can often be found entertaining the little ones, snoozing under a table, or chewing on thongs… so keep yours on your feet!