IF THERE was ever an unlikely spot for a Sunday lunch, it's this quiet corner of Geelong West. As Narrelle and I walk from North Geelong station, we pass light-industrial sites and faded weatherboard houses. Suddenly, there is the Telegraph Hotel, with its late-deco lines.
Inside is a big, airy space with dark timber furniture, tiled walls and a wood-panelled bar. Though the Telegraph has been placing in regional food awards, our waiter, Paul Rogasch, is at pains to point out it's still a friendly local pub: "The last thing we want to be is a special occasions-only place."
That's clear from young chef Cory Hyde's menu, which includes updated pub classics as well as more adventurous dishes. For entree, Narrelle goes for the caramelised pork belly ($15.50) with Asian herb salad, a tasty and surprisingly large serve. My barramundi fish cakes ($15) are a little bland but are given a kick of flavour by the accompanying chilli sauce.
I know I'm having a pub lunch when my chicken scallopini ($25) arrives, a generous combo of chicken and pan-fried chats with a rich creamy mustard sauce; it's a smoothly comforting dish with the added crunch of bok choy. Narrelle's Atlantic salmon fillet ($28) is cooked perfectly and its king prawn and bean-shoot salad imparts a fresh and delicate finish.
Throughout we've been sipping the excellent 2009 Clyde Park pinot noir from nearby Bannockburn ($40).
Dessert is really unnecessary but what the hell. Narrelle's white chocolate and passionfruit cheesecake with raspberry caramel is superb ($12.50). My lime and coconut layered ice-cream ($10.50) is a delicious and large construction of brandy snaps and ice-cream rectangles, within a circle of lime syrup.
It strikes me that the Telegraph would be a great place for an extended family get-together, because the affordable menu is broad enough to satisfy everyone from fussy to foodie. And one thing's guaranteed — you won't leave hungry.
Telegraph Hotel, 2 Pakington Street, Geelong West, 5222 2471, open 11am-late. To stay nearby: Chifley Hotel (chifleyhotels.com.au), Ardara House (ardarahouse.com.au), Haymarket Boutique Hotel (www.haymarkethotel.com.au).