Victory Hotel, Sellicks Hill

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date of visit: Monday 2 January 2012

Here in South Australia the New Year started with something of a bang. A very hot bang with the temperature hovering around 40°C. There’s not a lot to do in that type of weather other than go out for lunch …

My last visit to the Victory Hotel was well over a year ago and with the lovely views over the sea it’s the ideal place to take overseas visitors. On this occasion, I think we must have scored the last table in the house – and I was pretty surprised about that, ringing up just the day before.

When we arrived for our 12:30 booking the pub was already busy. We’d booked an inside table (seriously – it was 40°C – we were NOT going to be sitting outside, nice views or no) and they’ve done a good job of both packing tables in but making sure customers don’t feel cramped. As usual, our table was complete with high chair and we’d been given a spot that ensured the high chair could be out of the way of both staff and customer traffic.

The way the Victor works is that food orders are taken at the table but you order your drinks at the bar. This place is renowned for its wine list and I was happy (as in, super happy) to be able to order a Leo Buring Leonay 2004 Riesling for a very sensible $55. Yes, on this occasion I had made sure I was not the designated driver.

In addition to the menu, which you can check out on the website, there are daily specials. I opted to start with one of these – the vodka cured salmon with deep fried capers, white anchovies and the ubiquitous microgreens. I was a little disappointed to find only a couple of tiny anchovies on my plate (I was busy dreaming of the big fat boquerones you get in Spain … because I’m a bit of a greedy when it comes to those!) but there was plenty of salmon and the dish not only looked good, it tasted good too. Andy started off with another special – a crunchy prawn and pork Thai style salad with nam jim which he said was good and pleasantly spicy.

For main course I couldn’t go past the crispy skinned pork belly with a slipper lobster (I had to look this up – they are one of the marine bugs like Moreton Bay and Balmain), a granny smith remoulade and kipfler potatoes. In fact, 75% of our table had this dish and one person didn’t eat all their crispy skin so I got to finish it off!

This dish was really something – a generous piece of pork belly, perfectly moist and tender with great crackling. The granny smith remoulade was excellent – it really cut through the richness and smoothness of both the pork and the slipper lobster. This is definitely something I’ll think about pairing with pork in future. On a hot day, this is perhaps not the most obvious thing to order (and certainly something I wouldn’t be cooking at home!) but it absolutely did the job. I would go back for this dish.

We couldn’t fit in desserts so we just wrapped up with coffees. Main courses are mostly around the $25-$30 mark so expect to spend around $50+ per person (this depends a bit on how excited you get by wine lists …). This makes the Victory Hotel expensive for a pub – and in many respects you won’t forget you’re in a pub while you’re there. Everything is very casual, the chances are you’ll wander through the front bar, and you most certainly don’t have to dress up.

But then again, every now and then it’s wonderful to go out for really good food and have it be a casual affair. The Victory doesn’t sell itself as a fine dining venue – but it absolutely delivers with respect to both the food and wine.

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