114 Smith St
Collingwood VIC 3066
+61 3 9416 0055
My bias against Collingwood FC shows in this post. Pies fans, you have been warned.
Rule X+1 when it comes to relationships: If your boyfriend is a Collingwood supporter, never let him be the one to choose the venue for Grand Final Day festivities… because chances are that he’ll pick one right in the heart of Smith St, Collingwood. Trust me, I learnt the hard way yesterday.
We were walking down Smith St and as we drew closer to the dingy, bluestone hotel decorated with black and white streamers and balloons with scores of Pies fans kicking Sherrins outside the door, my eyes popped out. “We’re going here?” I asked Adam incredulously, “Seriously? Is this some kind of a joke?!” “Well, you left the planning up to me!” he protested feebly.
For some reason, we stayed at the Grace Darling. Maybe it was because we couldn’t be bothered trawling around for another pub (and we certainly weren’t heading back to the BC). Maybe it was because the Collingwood Football Club came to formation at this very pub (and as much as I despise the club itself, I do love a bit of history). Or maybe it was because they had Coldstream cider on tap. Heck, it certainly wasn’t the legions of local hipsters who had just jumped on the Collingwood bandwagon with their brand new black and white scarves straight from Rebel Sport. Whatever it was, I was glad we stayed.
Even though hearty fares such as the beef and lager pie and the free-range chicken parma both sounded smashing, we were told that the kitchen was not serving mains until 2pm. Grabbing a lone table next to the bar, we ordered some bar snacks to share. Armed with pints of White Rabbit ale and Coldstream cider respectively, Adam and I munched on some sliced white bread dipped in olive oil as more Collingwood bogues trickled in to the sounds of AC/DC. Sigh.
We started off with some chunky fries + aioli ($8). They weren’t the best chips in the world but they weren’t bad either – fluffy inside, crunchy outside, could have done with a bit more crunch though. The aioli, however, was the deal breaker – it had hints of five-spice powder which made it stand out from the rest like Dane Swan’s tattoos. Yum. (the aioli, not Dane Swan)
The Italian meatballs and shaved parmesan ($8) arrived with the deep fried river prawns + lemon + aioli ($13). The soft, tender meatballs were seductively coated in a rich, tasty tomato sugo, all of which was lapped up by broken bits of bread. As for the prawns, let’s just say that it’s not hard for a hotel/restaurant to eff up fried prawns. The prawns at Grace Darling were nothing spectacular but they kept Adam and I happy right to the first bounce. The five-spice powder-scented aioli made a reappearance too, so I’ll give them a tick for that.
The scores at full-time may have been a wash but I cannot say the same about the food here. Just as the real Grace Darling saved the crew of SS Forfarshire back in the 19th century, the food saved me from what would have otherwise been a sucky five hours in a room with a crowd of Collingwood fans. Ahh food, the constant saviour. While the bar snacks we had were excellent, I was disappointed not to have tried the mains. But I guess that’s a good enough reason for me to return again next week. That, and to see the Pies get slaughtered by Nick Riewoldt’s men in Grand Final v.2!