Pub Review: Hotel Victor, Victor Harbor



Iconic Australian cricketer, leviathan punter, beer inhaler and former Rothmans enthusiast Doug Waters famously said, “When in Victor Harbor be sure to swing by the Hotel Victor. It’s really good.”


Actually, he didn’t say this, and I just made it up.


Doug is a fabulously cool cat, and once went to bed in Perth well after dawn and well-oiled before mere hours later, going out to bat for his country. He possesses a remarkably mild temper, but I wonder what even he’d make of the Hotel Victor.


The boys and I were in town and as the Tuesday sun was setting, all autumnal and fetching, we suddenly had a dinner dilemma. I won’t say it was poor planning on my behalf but our holiday cabin menu read: half a raw sausage, two bread crusts and nine grapes.


Among the safest beer choices in this land of plenty is Coopers Pale Ale, but happily sat in the front bar and peering across the park, my first sip was, as they say in beverage circles, putrid. Mmm. Something not right here. All metallic edges and prodding screwdrivers, and not the fruity, plentiful palate so richly celebrated.


Eleven patient slurps later I cleared my poisoned throat and rasped at the innkeeper, “Excuse me, young man with the hipster beard, my ale is poorly.” He replaced it, but the second was equally miserable. It lay in the glass like a sad, Liverpudlian puddle.


Occasionally, the first beers poured daily from a keg can be, as Doug himself describes, a little sharp. However, this was beer o’clock in Victor Harbor during the splendid guts of school holidays. There were punters nursing cups all over the boozer. I was no pioneer.


A pub unable to provide a crisp gargle is like a frisky pup not wanting to reproduce with your bare leg: inexplicable.


We should’ve decamped to the fish ‘n’ chippery, but I persevered with the cold-eyed application of the Never Dead.


I’d a discount meal voucher and was singular in my wish to redeem it. “No, you can’t use it in here, only in the bistro,” announced the pig-tailed girl with cheerful senselessness. “What difference does it make?” I blinked. “Do the meals not come from the same kitchen? How can it matter where we sit?”


She blinked back.


In the apparently magical bistro with the boys gawping at their devices I ordered, but the pub again gave the rude finger. “Sorry, you can’t use this coupon for kids’ meals, only adult ones.”


I was tempted to use Aunt Edna’s favourite expression: the elegant and timeless, fuck me.


I was getting extra good at losing arguments, and my will to live was about to drown itself in my rancid ale, so naturally I continued. “But the discount here is ten bucks. Should I return, and buy the adult-only lobster and save thirty dollars? Would that be better for you?”


Hotel Victor 3, me 0.


I admit my roast beef was terrific. Tender, exquisitely flavoursome and a treat to eat. The carvery vegetables were also delicious; especially the cauliflower, although as Aunt Edna also used to suggest, “If you somehow manage to fuck up cauliflower we’re all in deep shit.” She had a shocking mouth, Aunt Edna.


Upon arrival we were promised water and glasses, but the four wait staff were so stressed attending to the excessive, punishing demands of the six other diners that this didn’t happen. Mercifully, humans are only 60% water so replenishing with H2O wasn’t important, and at no stage were we in significant biological danger.


They were also busy dwelling on Doug Waters’ famous century made entirely in the final session at the WACA in 1974. He bought it up with a six off the day’s last ball.


For the Hotel Victor to have also hit a six off their last delivery would’ve required free Coopers Sparkling Ales for me, and buckets of chocolate ice-cream for both Alex and Max.


The wait staff (yes, we’re still waiting) were consumed by their own ridiculous rules for acceptance of vouchers; an unwavering commitment to shagging up the country’s finest keg beer; and avoiding minimal levels of table service and so, with eyes shut, flopping about at the crease like a wounded sea mammal, and entirely unlike Doug, failed to offer a cricket shot, and were bowled middle stump.


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About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello


  1. I reckon I would have got on famously with your Aunt Edna.
    Well played, Mickey.

  2. The fish and chip shop at Victor was great last I was there 15 years ago

  3. Whenever Peter Plus (aka Barry Ion) visited Victor he always made a point of having a hair cut from NICK THE BARBOUR FROM VICTOR HARBOR.

  4. Dave Brown says

    Never trust a pub that doesn’t take care of their beer lines. Thanks for the warning, Mickey

  5. Sorry folks – it would seem I need to go back to TRIPING classes. Barbour indeed

  6. Thanks to everyone for commenting. Despite my piece’s somewhat negative tone it remains a great destination for families and others alike. As Fisho has noted it’s a great angling spot, and the golf options are pretty good too with four or five fun courses in the area.

  7. E.regnans says

    Hard to pass over the fish & chips in a coastal town.

    I think there’s scope for an “Aunt Edna” rating scale for your pub reviews, Mickey.
    Roast of the day seems a fair way to standardise gauging the kitchen.
    Parma another option. Or is it “Parmi” in Victor Harbour?
    What meal would Aunt Edna choose?

  8. Peter_B says

    A couple of years ago had lunch with Peter Fuller (the Old Blue Stager) at a pub in Prahran. One of the best gastropub feeds I have ever had. Eagerly looked forward to returning for dinner with the Avenging Eagle a few weeks ago. Entree of calamari was stewed in a sour brown oily sauce. Strange but maybe it was an unknown Asian delicacy unusual to my palate. Pork cutlet for main. How could you spoil that? Overcook by 10 minutes until it has the constituency of an Alice Springs Sherrin. Blimey the chef is having a Jack Darling day.
    Saving grace was the Manager after I Polly Farmer flick passed the pork to the waitress.
    Apologised profusely and took ALL the food off the bill including the entree and main that were OK. We paid only for the plonk. Said the place had just changed hands and they were trying to turn it around.
    Gets 10/10 from me, which is why I have not named the pub in question. Stuff up; own up and don’t take the punters for mugs. And don’t be miserly about your apology.
    Hope the Victor Hotel manager reads this and apologises for putting on tap the Southwark Bitter keg from 1983 that they found in the dark corner of the cellar.

  9. roger lowrey says

    Love Aunt Edna!

  10. E.r.- The great parma v parmi divide. Yet another reason why JTH, among others, subscribes to the six nations, not one view of Australia. Surely Parmigiana = parmi. But, culinary experts or etymologists or culinary etymologists could settle this.

    PB- that’s a rare story, I’m afraid. I fear customers have been replaced by revenue streams, or some such. But I dine in constant hope.

    Thanks Roger.

  11. Luke Reynolds says

    You did well to get through eleven “patient slurps”!

  12. I’m an optimist, although after nine sips I was becoming doubtful. Not easy witnessing a great ale dying in your glass, Luke.

  13. Rabid Dog says

    I think you got what we call at my place ADELAIDE ATTITUDE

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