Auburn Hotel

Bars, Pubs Hawthorn
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The Geebung Polo Club gets a revamp with Cape Grim steaks for all

The imposing grey slab of pub on Auburn Road in Hawthorn’s east, known for years as the Geebung Polo Club, has reclaimed its original name as the Auburn Hotel. After renovations earlier in the year, this incarnation of the 127-year-old boozer has taken a slightly more mature approach to pub, with a new wine room and a serious new menu.

On a sunny afternoon, you’ll find the front bar full of congenial locals popping by for a pint on the way home from work. It’s the kind of place where you feel like you could strike up a conversation with anyone, especially the easygoing and helpful staff. The craft beer revolution has not made it to the Auburn, so the closest you’ll get is a seasonal release of Little Creatures Dog Days, a pale lager you can smash back quicker than a Melbourne summer.

Heavy on steak, the new menu by executive chef Justin Wise (The Point, Duchess) features an essay on the origins of your slab of cow (either Cape Grim or Robbins Island), and each comes with hand-cut, triple cooked chips that are basically wedges of golden addiction. But the really interesting stuff comes first, with starters like cobia ceviche which sees generous strips of the silky white fish dressed lightly with lime and accompanied by Kermit-green dollops of avocado puree. There’s also a grill section for smaller and cheaper portions of protein like kangaroo skewers and sausages if a whole steak is a bit much. And if you’re meat-averse, a generous slab of gooey-crisp grilled saganaki is an excellent choice, paired beautifully with honeyed figs.

The rennos have kept the impressive Victorian interiors of the building intact, including the incredible front bar build out of huge slabs of native hardwood fronted by pressed tin. Solid wood columns lead through to the big, bright dining room and the carpeted double staircase to a second level with heaps of charmingly classic function space. The biggest change is the conversion of the old main dining room to a wine room with a moderately priced and well-curated list of bottles (all available to take away) and staff who take it seriously enough to make solid recommendations like a jammy rosé with enough punch to stand up to all that red meat.

Despite the classy new frock, this old dame’s still up for a good time. Renovations include an extension to the beer garden, a huge AstroTurf and umbrella courtyard that begs for long afternoons of unfettered beer swilling. There’s still a serious sporting vibe here, too. TVs throughout play everything from cricket to the NBA, and you can ring ahead to organise a live screening of your can’t-miss match.

Both staff and clientele at the Auburn seem reinvigorated and ready to take the place a bit more seriously into this new chapter of her long life. We’re with them.

By: Fred Siggins

Posted:

Venue name: Auburn Hotel
Contact:
Address: 85 Auburn Rd
Hawthorn
3122
Opening hours: Sun noon-11pm; Mon-Sat noon-midnight
Transport: Nearby stations: Auburn, Glenferrie

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Jack M

Someone who grew up with a Sunday session at the 'Bung, it's a bit sad heading back there now. They've done a nice job with the refurbishment, and the outside area is fantastic.