It’s been 3 years since I’ve been to the Hotel Lincoln, and much has changed. Well, I’m still working in the same office and the exact same job. The change hasn’t been forthcoming for myself. But the spate of turnover and renewal of jaded pubs continues to this junction of Queensberry and Cardigan Sts.
This recent makeover is spearheaded by the former manager of MoVida Aqui, Iain Ling, and has pushed most buttons correctly. After a recent late lunch at the Lincoln, I can state that it has made a deserved returned to my radar. Location-wise, it resides on a quieter Cardigan St corner of Carlton, in-between Swanton and Lygon Sts. It’s an easy walk across Lincoln Sq to the gelati shops.
Structurally, the old haunt remains intact. There is ample space with tables spread across various rooms, great for groups ranging 2 – 8. The old bar is a good visual for the different beers and wines on offer, although the location of the till at the exact point of entering the premises is somewhat of an eyesore. Several umbrella’d tables are available along the pavement and are ideal for the summer months.
The greatest change is in the kitchen and menu. The menu is void of typical pub grub like fish n chips and chicken parma. Don’t expect any parma and pot deals here. But it also steers away from the pretentious gastro-pub transformations. The menu is segmented into ‘7 Oz’ palate ticklers, ‘Schooner’ sharing serves, and ‘Pint’ mains to be accompanied by ‘Pot’ sides. For a sweet end, go with the ‘For The Road’ desserts.
I think the menu is well-thought out, there is something for everyone. 4 mains and 4 sides won’t stress out the kitchen, and is sufficient for a casual lunch crowd. I do wonder whether more is on offer for dinner. There is a good number of sharing plates and I’d highly recommend the croquettes (a single serve of 4) and the cured ocean trout. The mash that accompanied the pork and apple sausages was brilliant, knowing how much butter went into it to achieve that soft slightly sticky texture in fine mash. This was a rather salty dish, but nicely balanced against the black peppery flavour of the sausages. The triple cooked chips have a nice thick crunch on the bite, and a soft steamy middle. Ask about which flavours of ice-cream is on offer, you get 3 scoops for $9 – perfect for sharing.
This simple but elegant makeover of the Lincoln is for the benefit of all patrons. There’s a comfortable vibe, plenty of space, not to mention a great wine list to boot. The menu is concise, food preparation is spot-on. Well-priced, although about $5 heavier for certain items. I’m confident its Urbanspoon rating will increase to reflect these recent positive changes.