Pub food is always good for a satisfying informal meal out; as long as the pub is a good one, of course. The Cherry Tree Hotel is a thoroughly gentrified pub in the formerly industrial part of Richmond that lies to the west of the old Bryant & May match factory on Church Street.
In fact, I think this bit of Richmond west of the railway line which heads to South Yarra is called Cremorne. In early colonial times, before the factories, there was a train station here which people used to access a riverside circus, or so I remember reading.
By coincidence, a branch of my gym is actually inside the old Bryant & May complex, which is now a business park, so I was able to do a workout before strolling here for dinner through the rain.
It's hard to say how old the pub is. At a guess I'd say 1930s, but for all I know it's been remodelled a dozen times from an older building. The front bar is now decked out in a faintly retro manner, with lots of timber tabletops and low lounges.
What to choose from the big menu chalked on the wall? I like to show you at least a starter and a main in these reviews, but the menu here was basically divided into snacks and mains.
So first up I ordered the sausage rolls as a starter, not quite knowing what to expect. What I got was pretty simple, as you can see below - five little sausage roll segments and tomato sauce. They were pretty good for sausage rolls, but nothing to blow one's mind.
The main, however, added some much needed excitement. It was a Thai beef salad, and a damn good one. Nice tender slices of medium rare beef, fresh capsicum and lettuce, slightly crunchy noodles, lots of peanuts, lemon juice (I think), and a nice chilli bite. Fresh, tasty, fantastic.
And to drink? A crisply bitter India Pale Ale from my old haunt, the Holgate Brewery in Woodend. Just the right match for the chilli.
The Bill: $37.
The Restaurant: Cherry Tree Hotel, 53 Balmain St, Richmond; ph 03 9428 5743.