Very cheap eats: The Buckingham Hotel, Footscray

“Old Man” or traditional Aussie pubs are a dying breed. Most have been converted into overdone restaurants, apartments or the dreaded pokie venue. Others have been turned in funky/kitsch lounges that can be great, but very busy and have seen substantial price creep over the last few years taking them past the $20 “Very Cheap Eats” meal/drink limit.

The traditional pubs remaining frequently have character, but finding ones with clean, cold beer lines and quality bar meals represents a growing challenge that I hope can be reversed. One such gem is hidden in the residential backstreet’s of Footscray called “The Buckingham Hotel” at 23 Buckingham Street.

It has a typical pub menu, but the standout offer is a $7.50 lunch special which is a single blackboard choice that changes daily (ensuring freshness). During Friday lunch, we were presented with a large serve of baked lamb chops and chips ($7.50)…basic food I agree…but the chops were slow baked in a hearty homemade sauce using noticeable base ingredients of carrots, celery, onion, tomato and herbs. The chips were hot, chunky and tasted of real potato. On a previous day, the special consisted of a whole chicken breast, hand crumbed (yes…hand crumbed, NOT the crappy frozen bulk schnitzel!!) with chips, gravy and a separately served impressive garden salad ($7.50).

It’s fair to say the meals are simple and honest, but the homemade quality of the food that arrives is impressive for the price. This is stuff your mum might have made and is perfect to enjoy with a cold beer for around $10 all up. The Buckingham Hotel represents a simple, relaxed and inviting venue to enjoy another side of Melbourne life…away from the rush, flash and noise of busier destinations. Even parking is a breeze. Tempting to stay for a second drink in the beer garden at these prices.