In 2019, the historic Paradise Valley Hotel was taken over by Mark Protheroe, Steven Nelson and Joe Durrant – the trio behind North Fitzroy bistro and bottle shop The Recreation – who have spent more than a decade working in some of Melbourne’s best restaurants (Nelson is a chef, while Durrant and Protheroe work front of house).

That experience shows in Paradise’s menu of pub classics with a refined edge. Expect dishes such as a Black Angus porterhouse with bearnaise, duck-and-mushroom pie, and chicken schnitzel with fries, along with Knickerbocker glory for dessert: cream, coconut and fresh fruit (the berries come from a local farm in spring and summer).

Sommelier Ellie Ash champions winemakers of the local region too, with about 70 per cent of the wine list representing Victoria. Beer comes from Wolf of the Willows, Sailors Grave and Hop Nation, and gin is from the Melbourne Gin Company, just 20 minutes’ drive down the road.

Recognising that the historic Dandenong Ranges pub will make many a daytrip itinerary, the team has put together a decent non-alcoholic drinks list with mocktails, zero-alcohol beer and some interesting soft drinks.

Located in the small town of Clematis – known as Paradise Valley until 1921 – the 120-seat Paradise Valley Hotel overlooks the Puffing Billy Railway line. Every hour or so, the train shunts past with its white steam and waving passengers. Watch it from the spacious outdoor dining area or in the open-air beer garden. Elsewhere on the spacious grounds, the owners hope they’ll soon be hosting farmers markets and live music.

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Updated: August 23rd, 2021

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