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The Age Good Food Guide 2013

Contemporary

14.5/20

This lovely 19th-century building has everything a great country pub needs - stylish dining rooms, open fires, a cosy bar and a rambling beer garden - plus two charming hosts who know the meaning of hospitality. Classic comfort food - think burgers and fish and chips - is on offer in the bar but the dining room is where chef Shauna Stockwell really gets to show off. A compact menu, five dishes per course, is full of tempting choices. An artfully plated heirloom tomato confit bursts with sweetness, while dabs of Milawa goat’s cheese and tiny croutons provide balance and crunch. A superbly tender poussin is matched with soft artichokes, creamy fromage frais and crunchy cos, an exercise in perfect textural balance, and a special of lamb with a wet chickpea braise has a smoky spiciness that does justice to this North African classic. Desserts, such as the elegant pot of thick caramel cream with crunchy hazelnut biscotti, are pure indulgence. And … Stay overnight and enjoy a breakfast of house-made bread, local nuts, fruit and juices, and organic muesli and yoghurt.

 

 

 

The Age Traveller

July 7, 2012

FRENCH SPIRIT

Marie McNamara discovers a country pub full with Gallic flavour.

 

The boss smirks and looks sideways with cynicism: "You want time off so you can stay in a pub for four days?"It doesn't sound good, does it? But it's not just any old pub; it's the Stanley Pub, near Beechworth in north-east Victoria.

 

This is a long way from your average Aussie pub. It is a country hotel built in 1854, but there's no daggy decor, sticky carpets or chook parma and chips on the menu.The Stanley is a gastro pub offering classic French fare, and it has two rooms in the French-provincial style in which guests can stay. Room one has an open fire, a sitting room, an en suite, a queen-size bed, a flat-screen TV, an inbuilt DVD and an iPod docking station. Room two has a queen-size bed, an en suite and similar entertainment options. Both have french doors opening to private courtyards.

 

The rooms are tasteful, private and quiet. There are no late-night revelry sounds to disturb your slumber. In room one, where we stay, we are lulled to sleep by the crackle of the open fire.

We arrive at dusk on Friday night and check in with the owner, Shane Harris, who is slightly stressed but friendly and efficient.Later we dine with the locals in the Stanley's cosy dining room. It's all open fireplaces, polished timber floors and good food. And it's a little cheaper on Friday nights to encourage the locals. We order Moroccan chicken with couscous and local apple cider. It's filling and satisfying.

Early on Saturday morning, we explore a quiet little town draped in mist and fine drizzle, then it's time for our continental breakfast, which is included in the tariff and is excellent. There is fresh fruit, juice, a selection of teas and ground coffee, house-made muesli, delicious fruit-and-nut breads, yoghurt and locally grown jams and spreads. Harris even manages to find good-quality gluten-free bread at short notice.

 

We have company for our first breakfast: a couple from Tallangatta, who have transported their horses to Yackandandah by float and then ridden to Stanley. The horses spent the night in a paddock next to the pub while their owners bunked down in room two. Following breakfast, they saddle up and begin a leisurely ride back to Yackandandah.And then we ate Hosts Shane and Annemarie Harris are Sydney tree-changers with hospitality credibility. The head chef is Shauna Stockwell and the sous chef is Tim Witherow. Honestly, the food is divine. The second night, we choose two mains: poussin with saffron pickled courgette and Holy Goat fromage frais; and duck confit with witlof, Stanley walnuts and kipfler potatoes. We choose a bottle of crisp Veuve Ambal Blanc De Blanc, which is sublime. We can't ignore dessert so we share a rhubarb and buttermilk ricotta tart with pomegranate sauce.

 

The deal maker It's a great dining experience with attentive and professional service, an inspiring wine list (with local and international wines, plus local cider on tap) and excellent food. It's easy to just hunker down at the Stanley, to eat, drink and retreat to one of the rooms to sleep it off.

Stepping out Stanley is gorgeous and nearby Beechworth is equally charming. There is so much to see and do, it's easily a long weekend's worth of enjoyment. Consider a ghost tour at the Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum, an institution built in the 1860s with a tragic but fascinating history. The ghost tours are not cheesy and are apparently historically accurate. Or spend a day in the Beechworth Historic Precinct and take in the Telegraph Station, Burke Museum and a courthouse with Ned Kelly links.

 

 

 

The Age Good Food Guide 2012

Contemporary

14.5/20

When the talent, aspiration and ambition of chefs and floor staff align, special forces ignite. Just like in Stanley. With two homely dining rooms, rambling garden and atmospheric fireplaces, it's cosy the pub you wish was at the end of your road. Be cosseted by real hospitality and relish the care shown in an inspired tangle of spanner crab, Nicola potatoes and salty capers, unified by a superbly light mayonnaise heady with local saffron. It's pretty, produce-driven food, confidently plated by a chef who understands her market. A creamy chevre bavarois sits pert beside a dazzling melange of golden baby beets and acidic pink grapefruit; a brined and roasted poussin with sauteed leeks and aniseed hit of tarragon is a classic combination. For an exquisite ending a luxe honey and chocolate semifreddo with sticky, salted caramel might just convince you to make this little pub a local of yours too.

 

 

 

The Age Traveller

 

June 18, 2011

 

David Reyne searches for some of the finest places to eat and rest around Victoria.

 

The Stanley Pub, Stanley

 

Two colossal oaks shade the heart of town. The petrol pump stands forlorn. This is Stanley, in the north-east of the state. The pub is gilded with a fat fringe of wisteria. There's a local at the bar. He's got a thousand-yard stare. The rusted blade of an old bushman's saw is nailed to the beam above his head and a dartboard hangs against a wall pock-marked with misses. A spicy aroma of tap beer, wine cork and wood smoke greets you.

 

Fireplaces are everywhere. The one in the bistro has left a sooty lick on the outside of the bluestone chimney. Two boisterous fires crackle as we enter our room. One throws a glow across the old timber bed, the other across a couple of funky leather armchairs. The ceiling is lined with timber planks. The light switch requires a little exertion and although there's been a restrained overhaul, there's never any doubt you're staying in a pub. Until, that is, you sit down for dinner.

The bistro's gone French and the wine list is vast. (A New York sirloin with french fries costs $33, seasonal vegetables $9; Ellis Wines shiraz, $42.)

It's superb but what must the locals think? They clearly don't mind. There are more at the bar now and the dartboard's looking nervous.

 

 

 

Reviewed by Ela Carte

 

July 22, 2011

 

We actually stayed overnight in the Stanley Pub’s French provincial room, and after devouring the variety of housemade breads on offer for breakfast (including divine macadamia bread with home-made raspberry jam) it was hard to resist a Sunday lunch in their dining room, smack bang in front of the open fire (the pub actually has at least three fireplaces that I counted).

I’m fairly sure that a pub within a town that has a local school enrolment of just seven should have staples on the menu like a parma, or at least sausages of some description – but the ever-so-hospitable owners of the Stanley have refused to go with convention. The result is a refined, adventurous menu that saw me dine on twice cooked pork belly with pigs ear salad – the crackling on my piece of belly was so crunchy and thick I needed a steak knife to attack it. The aforementioned ears were much less confronting that they sounded, on a crispy witlof salad, they tasted similar to lardons - salty bacon bits coated in a sweet, syrupy dressing. Snapper pie was anything but the archetypal creamy fisherman’s version, the one had a Mediterranean bent, layered with green beans, tomato confit and salty olives and drenched in a saffron butter.

Vegetable sides change according to the season, our cabbage was buttery, bacony, and the perfect winter accompaniment. We’d been “strongly advised” to taste the French fries with truffle salt, and let me just say they left the well known carbs at that famous stop just before Glenrowan for dust (yes – I’m talking about McDonalds) .

Service is relaxed, but it is so very friendly – from the tree changer publicans, to the gorgeous local girls, this is city quality food and drinks with charming country hospitality. The wine list features impressive local and international wines, and I’m planning on heading back to finally make my way to the dessert list and try the chocolate and chestnut pudding with chestnut crème and smoked chocolate sauce – I will be back!

 

 

 

Reviewed by food blogger and tweeter extraordinaire Jane Wong (@stickifingers)

 

May 15, 2011

 

Traditional French bistro style bare tables and starched linen napkins were set for about thirty seats. We were the last to arrive of eleven diners there that night. Service was smoothly taken care of by the owner and pedigreed Sommelier, Shane Harris.

 

It later emerged that Shane, his wife Annemarie and chef Shauna Stockwell were veterans of Sydney high-end dining venues, with notches in their various hospitable belts that include Testsuya's, MG Garage and Pier, then later in this region north east Victorian area with Michael Ryan, pre Provenance, at Range.

 

As we settled in I breathed a deep sigh of relief. The menu selection was admirably small, concise and dotted with local produce; likewise, the wine list. Respect.

 

The dishes had classical leanings. I found it tough to make a decision on which to choose. An entree of rabbit and duck rillettes with peach chutney, beckoned. Oysters shucked to order with a Japanese dressing or zucchini flowers wistfully called to me.

 

Main courses featured the safe option of steak frites, but also skate, gnocchi and poussin. A side salad of figs, rocket, local walnuts and blue cheese sounded like an ideal lunch dish, the potatoes sounded heavenly too, but we chose the comforting seasonal vegetable dish of wilted spinach with kaiserfleisch   ...read more

 

 

 

Reviewed by Tricia Welsh, who was hosted by North East Victoria Tourism.

 

September 25, 2010

 

A COUNTRY pub is a country pub, you might think - but then there's The Stanley.

The 1854-built public house has been quenching many a thirst since it was licensed in 1857. It's still the heart and soul of the small community but since Shane and Annemarie Harris took it over in April 2008, it's been attracting a wider circle as it gains a reputation as a gastro-pub.

We enter via the public bar with its dart board and are shown a table beside a welcoming open fire.

 

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With new chef and old friend Shauna Stockwell in the kitchen, the menu maintains its classic French bistro fare with a contemporary feel.

I plump for the seared scallops on fennel veloute with dill puree ($19) - a deliciously sweet blend of flavours. My husband chooses the goat's curd with witlof and warm local olives ($17) - a lovely stack of salad leaves spiced with the tang of the goat's curd.

Again I go seafood, with sweet Suzuki mulloway with cavalo nero and Kaiserfleisch ($32) while my husband opts for the Rutherglen lamb with cauliflower and chickpeas ($33), which he declares fantastic. We can't go past a Stanley apple tarte tatin ($15) to share local Gundowring ice-cream ($4) from the Kiewa Valley.

It's an amazing wine list for this neck of the woods. Local wines get a good run, such as Ringer Reef Sparkling Merlot ($48) from Porepunkah, alongside a Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve ($150) from Champagne and a Giaconda Shiraz ($130) from Beechworth, which outshines a Domaine du Cayron Gigondas ($120) from the Rhone.

 

 

 

Email 7th November 2010

 

Hi Shane and Annemarie,

Karina and I would just like to thank you both for a wonderful lunch at our favourite pub.

To be honest with you the last time we ventured up the meals seemed a little different to what we came to love at The Stanley. We would like to report to you both though that your new chef is fantastic and the service is still of high quality. The meals today were probably two of the best we’ve both experienced.

Look forward to seeing you both again before Christmas.

Cheers.

 

Kind Regards

Dan Bonnitcha

 

 

 

 

The Age Good Food Guide 2011

Contemporary

14/20

Locals gather in the central bar for Beechworth-brewed red ale, a game of darts and a ripper fish 'n' chips. A choice of Pacific or Sydney rock oysters are correctly shucked to order, revelling in their own briny seawater. An entree of seared, plump scallops, nestled on a bed of delicate green lentils and shrouded in coriander foam, reveals the chef's ambition. It's slightly incongruous in such a utilitarian space, but somehow works. Three tastes of quail might start proceedings, the delicate bird poached, roasted and confit. A choice of four or five mains might include gelatinous pork belly teamed with mustard, walnuts and caramelised Stanley apple, or an aged Hopkins River strip loin steak plated prettily with roasted baby vegetables and a round of velvety potato fondant. Owners Shane and Annemarie Harris understand truly hospitable service, which is welcome, as pacing is laid-back to say the least. Between courses, you can purchase some locally grown Stanley saffron, or enjoy the exotic spice added to a subtly poached pear for dessert.

 

 

 

Herald Sun Tuesday, April 13, 2010  - 37 out of 50

Stephen Downes - Restaurant Review

Few country hotels can match the Stanley Pub’s grub

Pub with no peer

Imagine a country village where mobile phones don’t work and you sit down to mostly excellent food in a mid-19th century pub. It’s called Stanley, a hamlet of a few hundred souls some half-a-day’s drive from Melbourne, near Beechworth. The Stanley Pub is modest, its wine list fabulous. Experienced hospitality duo Shane and Annemarie Harris own the pub and wait on tables.

 

FOOD 15/20

The Harris’s key aim is to serve well-cooked, fresh and wonderful produce. They succeeded admirably. And although regional foodstuffs are paramount, they’ll get the best from far afield if need be. The night I dined, ocean trout and oysters came from Tassie. Some decades ago I gave up trying to get restaurants to serve oysters properly. Without prompting, the Stanley Pub does it. At $3 a piece, Tasmanian Pacific's were opened to order adductor intact. Served with red-wine vinegar containing chopped shallots and black pepper, they were magnificent. However, neither a bouillabaisse ($18) nor the excellent mayonnaise partnering it were hot enough. The emulsion lacked the fire that would have made it a spicy rouille, and the tasty oranged-colored fish soup imitating a bouillabaisse should have been several degrees hotter. A small splayed poussin ($27) starred in a dish of excellent, rounded and well-balance flavours. Green lentils under the halved and succulent bird were perfectly cooked and punctuated with small choppings of carrot, onion and celery. A thyme veloute added a creamy, herbal edge, and short lengths of a great Wodonga-made black pudding added sweetness and ballast. Fine local dry-aged beef “striploin” ($32) was great in all gastronomic respects. It sat on a delicately tasting spinach “pesto” (puree) and was partnered by baby carrots, halves of small cooked mushrooms and a fine juice. A cylinder of chocolate fondant ($15) hardly melted and oozed. Its texture was lightly cakey. I would have said but its taste was fine. It came with coffee “soil” and brilliant Kiewa Valley Gundowring ginger ice cream.

 

STAFF 8/10

The Harris's call on decades of experience and their service is pointedly professional. Running the front bar and the bistro simultaneously, though, they’re sometimes detained elsewhere.

 

DRINK 4/5

Wine buffs might moan the Stanley’s wine list isn’t long enough or doesn’t have Grange. It’s as good as I need one to be. It’s local, comprehensive in grapes, and its prices range well.

 

X FACTOR 2/5

Heavy duty paper napkins are a Zzzzzz factor. And they are not changed between courses. Otherwise, The Stanley is all modesty, an 1850s pub with hybrid additions including the bistro, where you sit on timber chairs at timber or compo tables but use fine glassware and cutlery. Let’s just say that it ain’t the Ritz.

 

VALUE 8/10

Excellent for food and even better for wine.

 

 

 

The Age Good Food Guide 2010

French

14/20

Once a thriving gold town, Stanley is now not on the road to anywhere. Its sole remaining pub, renovated a year ago, sits low and comfortable, its veranda fringed by wisteria, its garden shaded by old trees. The 1857 pub is divided into bar and restaurant, and is a model of what new life might be contained in an old hotel. The bar, complete with dart board, has its own menu including olives, nuts, steak sandwich, and fish and chips. In the simply furnished restaurant, the menu looks towards the bistros of provincial France and, like them, makes good use of locally grown produce. The menu changes seasonally, complemented by an enterprising wine list that includes a range of locals. Try the salad with Milawa chevre croutons to start, or mussels mariniẻre enlivened by locally grown saffron; follow with a classic steak with anchovy butter or peppercorn sauce and fries, or grilled baby chicken on a bed of lettuce and peas. The tarte tatin, with Stanley apples, is a must for dessert. If you’ve booked in to one of the rooms, settle back near the fire with a glass of something local and fortified, or a cognac.

 

 

 

Essentials Magazine

Issue 16 mid-summer 2010

 

THE FLAVOURS OF PROVINCIAL FRANCE

 

Behind the wisteria frontage lays a unique establishment that oozes French savoire-faire while honouring the attributes of the local region. Owner Annemarie Harris considers her ‘pub’ to be three businesses in one – a bar, bistro and beautiful French-styled accommodation. As a sommelier, Annemarie’s husband, Shane, has lent his nose to a wine list that would be the envy of urban restaurants. The food comes with a leaning towards the produce of Stanley, which means cherries and berries take centre stage over the summer months. The Stanley also acts as a ‘cellar door’ for organic saffron growers Michael & Annette Nuck with this precious spice making a strong statement on the menu.

 

 

 

MenuLog.com.au

 

Overall 10 - Food 10, Ambience 10, Value 10, Service 10

After a long drive from Wollongong NSW, several cups of bad roadside coffee and stale bread salad sandwiches we arrived at the Stanley Pub in NE Victoria. A little old country pub on a road to nowhere. Not that it mattered because they have it all going on at this little pub. We booked our accommodation online using the pubs secure booking service that you can find on the website, we also booked our table for dinner. We didn't book lunch the next day or dinner the next night because you never quite know what your going to get with these little country pubs. Boy were we surprised! We were greeted by the owners Shane and Annemarie Harris on our arrival, shown to our very well appointed rooms, nice touches included the wonderful linen and lovely locally hand made soaps, oh and the open fire already burning was simply heaven! We eventually dragged ourselves away from the open fire and out to the bar! here we were greeted by a friendly selection of the locals all downing cold ales. So when in Rome ! ....

 

Next came the highlight for me. Dinner ! Although I had read the menu online sitting at home dreaming of a country trip to somewhere ! sitting there in front of yet another open fire with a beautiful glass of Pizzini Riesling ( a local vineyard ) it all seemed to sound so much yummier! We were not to be disappointed. The food from head chef Shauna Stockwell and her sous chef Tim was simply amazingly delicate and perfectly cooked, everything from the Seared scallops and the peppered venison we had for entree down to the brined pousinn and confit of duck for main. With each bite I found I had look up and check where I was? was I really sitting in the middle of an old country pub? yep I was! The wine list was extensive a little bit much for me to handle, so much to choose from. When I told our waitress of my confusion she nodded and quickly had Shane the barman come over to help me with my selection. Turns out Shane is sommelier extraordinarily disguised as a country barman! After a brief conversation I realise it would be just better to hand over the wine list and we just said "you choose", and boy am I glad we did. Much to our surprise he chose well priced wines that matched the meal perfectly, although on a side note re the wine list - while extensive overall it is very well priced, and features a good selection of local and international wines. We skipped desert we were quite tired after a long day and we retired to our Room, with the open fire ( which had been re-stoked while we ate dinner) a very nice touch. Oh before we went to bed we booked lunch for the next day and a table for dinner as well ! .... As good as it gets, the best!

( A road less travelled - June 2011)

 

Overall 10 - Food 10, Ambience 10, Value 10, Service 10

Three generations of our family - visitors from Sydney and Melbourne as well as locals - had a wonderful spring birthday lunch at The Stanley, stretching on for hours. What a beautiful afternoon it was - one of those days that will stay in our memories for a long time. And what a gem nestled in the hills.

 

The food, wine and coffee were outstanding, the setting gorgeous, the atmosphere warm and welcoming, and the lovely garden a wonderful place for youngsters to explore and run around while the adults lingered over coffee. For me, the roquefort, onion and apple/walnut entree, the beautifully cooked trout, and the amazing apple tarte tartin were just stunning.

 

We were made to feel very welcome indeed with perfectly-pitched service - friendly and personal, warm, attentive, helpful, and not at all intrusive.

 

A huge thank you to The Stanley from an utterly contented Sydneysider, still enjoying the memories.   (Utterly Contented - October, 2009)

 

Overall 10 - Food 10, Ambience 10, Value 10, Service 10

 

Fabulous fantastic fun .....can't can't say enough good stuff... we ate and stayed overnight , the owners really own this place and make sure you feel like you live there...don't miss out on this experience

 

 

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6-12 Myrtleford-Stanley Road

Stanley VIC 3747

 

P: +61 3 5728 6502

 

E: info@thestanley.com.au