Rustica founder breathes new life into a 100-year-old Williamstown pub with a new hospitality team and fresh look.
Brenton Lang (with partners Drew Gibbs & Matt Cook) has opened the doors to his first venture outside the Rustica sourdough empire, with Hobsons Bay Hotel – a three-level neighbourhood pub in Williamstown, including a rooftop deck with views of Melbourne’s skyline across the water.
Delivering refined pub classics, Brenton explains he wanted to create a hospitality venue fitting for the waterfront suburb: “We want to bring the building back to the neighbourhood pub and execute a high-quality venue with a dining and service experience to match. We knew the expertise of the chef we needed for the venue and we couldn’t be more excited to have teamed up with Ben,” says Lang.
Hobsons Bay Hotel welcomes Ben Pigott as head chef, who previously worked at Andrew McConnell’s Supernormal and Cumulus Inc. and most recently as group kitchen manager at Van Haandel Group’s Stokehouse and Fatto.
Pigott’s new menu is predominantly produce-driven, revealing his formative training and experience with local farmers, including his favourite market garden, Ramarro Farm.
From small plates to sharing plates, guests can expect a refined menu of classic Australian pub grub with dishes such as:
• Rotisserie chicken and chips with salsa verde and rocket salad
• Beer-battered fish and chips with chunky tartar
• Cape grim rib-eye to share
• Dry-aged striploin on the bone
• Rotisserie porchetta with sweet and sour radicchio, hazelnuts, brown
• Dukkah-roasted cauliflower steak with smoked hummus, fried capers
and chopped herb dressing
Designer Fiona Drago, a regular collaborator of Rustica, was called upon to celebrate the building’s heritage and long history as a pub. The light-filled interior is furnished in dark bronze trims, deep green panels, grey marble, smoked timber, tan leather and soft lighting, providing a warm comfortable welcome.
On the ground level, patrons step into a brasserie-style dining room on a tartan carpet custom-made in Glasgow. The open kitchen, wood fire grill and rotisserie provide much theatre and action for diners in the room that will eventually fit 60 guests.
One level up on the first floor, there is a private dining room that seats up to 24 guests, as well as an open-air balcony that wraps around the building. Those seeking more fresh air and long leisurely summer days can walk up one more flight of stairs to embrace the expansive rooftop deck that promises to hold up to 100 people when the regulations allow for it.
There will be tap wines and cocktails available on the rooftop. The wine list is also extensive, and there are 11 beers on tap, mainly occupied by Balter and Cricketers Arms.
Hobsons Bay Hotel will eventually seat 240 diners across three levels. Together Lang and Pigott bring a new pub dining experience to the West, contributing another chapter to the history of Williamstown.
Hobsons Bay Hotel
28 Ferguson Street, Williamstown VIC 3016
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Images: Kate Shanasy