The “gastropub” originated in the UK in the early 1990s as a place to get quality food in a relaxed atmosphere, reinvigorating both pub culture and British dining, although it has occasionally attracted criticism for potentially removing the character of traditional pubs.
The Villager, in the CBD, calls itself a “Gastrobar” – and is indeed a traditional pub-style bar with a dining area attached, serving classic comfort pub food with a modern twist and some Asian variants.
The dinner menu includes a duck breast with braised lentils and English spinach ($28), a very tender beef rib, slow-cooked and served with truffle mash ($29) and a classic eye fillet with truffle polenta and sautéed mushrooms ($35) – which we teamed with excellent fresh hand-cut chips ($9) and a roasted walnut, pear, pecorino and roquette salad ($9). Finish with an English pub classic “Eton Mess” – a mess of meringue, strawberries, cream and crème anglaise ($13), a chocolate gateau ($13) or perhaps a cheese board with a selection of cheeses ($21).
Each dish has a recommended wine to match it – and there is a good range of wines by the glass as well as bottled wine, cocktails and beers.
The Villager is open for breakfast from 7am to 10.30am on weekdays and from 8am until noon on Saturdays serving toast, muffins, poached eggs and omelettes, through to the classic “Big Breakfast”. There are some lighter selections for lunch such as a vegetarian quesadilla ($16) and a Wagyu burger ($18) and a range of sharing tapas style dishes ($8 to $15) for all-day snacking. Vegetarians and are well catered for and gluten-free dishes are also available.
The restored building has several dining areas, including balcony dining on level one and a supper club on the top floor available for private dining.
The service is friendly, personal and relaxed – although perhaps a touch slow. The atmosphere is a little noisy with exposed brick walls and wooden floors, but also cosy with antique leather armchairs. The Villager is reminiscent of the old fashioned village pub – a place to meet, relax, take things slowly and enjoy good food and wine while watching the world go by.