March 3rd, 2023For great food, service: See you at the Guilly
Words: Donna Kelly | Images: Kyle Barnes
I RECKON the road to Castlemaine has probably never seen so much traffic since Megan Evans and Tom Allen took over the Guildford Family Hotel at the end of 2021.
In a story back then, Megan, who is well known to Daylesford locals after working at a number of hospitality venues in the town, said she was excited about running her own pub and “getting the old girl back to life”.
And they have certainly done that.
Open five days a week, it is a huge drawcard for not only locals but also for those making the short trip past Mt Franklin from over Daylesford and surrounds way.
The chef is Lee Littlepage, who also has a following from around the region, and she is doing great things in the kitchen with pub classics and a few surprises.
We headed there last Saturday for lunch and grabbed a table in the bar. There are plenty of dining spots to choose from – check out the dining room, it’s fab, the bar itself where Tom is always up for a chat, or the beer garden, where music is happening again.
For entrees I chose the pea, mint and haloumi fritters with a mint yoghurt dipping sauce (4 for $16) while Kyle decided on the battered scallops with cauliflower puree, aioli, crispy bacon and lemon (4 for $22). Both were delicious with the fritters a really lovely texture, beautifully crisp on the outside and moist inside. Loved them. Kyle, who would happily eat seafood for three meals a day, said the combo of the cauliflower, bacon and scallop was a winner, with the scallops perfectly cooked.
Time for mains and it’s always hard to choose – especially with 15 really good options – something for everyone.
I decided to be boring and went for the chilli and garlic prawn spaghetti with olive oil, butter, cherry tomatoes, spinach and parmesan ($28). Yum! I am never going to call this dish boring again. It is a zinger with loads of flavour, big plump prawns and pops of tomato. A bowl of deliciousness.
Kyle chose the southern fried chicken burger with cheese, slaw, bacon, pineapple, chipotle mayo, onion rings and chips ($28). This is massive and delivers everything it promises. Kyle said nothing about this, he was just busy eating, but I stole an onion ring and it was crisp and fluffy and full of flavour. Maybe they should do a bowl of onion rings as a side?
Oh, we had a friend with us, on the sly, and they went for the chicken parma with a housemade Napoli sauce and cheese blend with chips and buttered vegetables ($28). Did I mention Lee very kindly added a couple of extra sauces – pepper and mushroom. Served oozing with goodness, it was proclaimed “one of the best parmas ever”. And this is someone who has had more parmas than Kyle.
We were done but there are three desserts to choose from, all are $14 and they all sound good. Chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce and cream – chocolate coma-inducing perhaps, my favourite, vanilla panna cotta with mixed berries and housemade lemon tart with cream and strawberries.
It’s a family hotel, so children are happily catered for with parma and chips for just $11, napoli pasta, or nuggets and chips for $12, or fish and chips for $13.
This is a pub so there is plenty to choose from. I chose the 2021 Cloud St chardonnay from King Valley which was $12 for a glass, the same price as all the many glasses of wine available. Meanwhile bottles of wine range from $45 to $75 – very nice pricing I think.
We have known Megan and Tom many years and they are lovely people who have taken the “old girl” and really breathed life back into her. It’s been lovely to watch the pub get the love it deserves and also give people another option in this region.
There is a Friday night raffle for various charities, which is always fun, and Tom has got music happening again – something the pub was known for in an earlier life.
I really recommend making a booking or calling in to see what many people have already discovered. A lovely old pub with great food, service and atmosphere.
See you at the Guilly!