The Crimean is a rustic and charmingly bohemian style pub where anyone with a vaguely Eastern European blood line or interest in eastern European food will feel at home. The trio behind the gastro pub includes Frank Moylan and Melissa Macfarlane- the brains behind two of regional Victoria’s most successful food-focused pubs – The Farmer’s Arms in Daylesford and the chef’s-hatted Royal George Hotel in Kyneton and front-of-house star Lazlo Evenhuis.
There’s a warmth and intimacy about the place and hidden nooks like the bunker-ish ‘cold war room’ – perfect for clandestine liaisons and shady deals – add to the romance. While the main dining room is decked out in moody, dark woods and the walls are adorned with an intriguing mix of communist-era posters and colourful propaganda.
The well-priced menu darts from the Ukraine to Romania via Poland, and sure, while many of us have eaten blinis and borscht, it’s not often you see shopska, sarma or banitsa gracing pub menus. Bulgarian head chef Mykel de Laat shares his bosses’ passion for the rich, aromatic and robust fare of his homeland and is turning out some gorgeous, modern takes on the traditional. Evenhuis has done a sterling job sourcing obscure, high quality wines from all over the region and on the cocktail list you might find creative collaborations between notable rarities like spiced Czech herbal liqueur, Ukrainian birch-infused vodka or sour cherry juice, just to keep with the theme.