The old bird of Prahran flies again, with its homey atmosphere intact and a slicker approach to service and pub fare
Away from the madness of Chapel Street, the narrow backstreets of Prahran are home to single-storey Victorian terrace houses fronted by picket fences and colourful, well-kept gardens. Here in this quiet neighbourhood, you’ll find the Flying Duck Hotel, loved by locals for its old-school pub atmosphere and massive beer garden. After changing hands and undergoing renovations, the Duck is back – and it’s still the perfect place for an easygoing Sunday session.
The front bar is designed to capture the feeling of a classic sports pub. The large windows bringing in lots of natural light mean you’re able to watch the footy without feeling like you’re in a dungeon, and with two big screens and walls covered in shiny new sports memorabilia, you’re very much encouraged to do so.
If footy’s not your thing, grab your pint (there’s a good mix of safe commercial options and more interesting stuff like Moo Brew, Hawkers and Yenda), and pop around to the side room where leather chesterfields flank an open fire. Around the other side, you’ll find a cosy little dining room; the exposed brick and polished floorboards offset by bright red furniture and sprays of yellow orchids.
But the real kicker is out back, where that huge beer garden has been elevated into something worth crossing town for. The red brick patio and wooden picnic tables are shaded by four sturdy, ancient palm trees. There’s also a beautiful, fully covered atrium with table service for year-round al fresco dining, complete with classy floor tiles and a hanging sculpture. Here the prams are lined up by the dozen on a Sunday as young parents grab some rare social time and a much-needed glass of wine. Down the back, a couple of young blokes in full denim punch darts and sink jugs of the cheap stuff, keeping themselves well clear of the toddlers. This is by far one of the best pieces of outdoor real estate in the area, and everyone seems more than happy to share.
If you’re after a feed, pub classics abound, notably the excellent chicken parma (we reckon it’s one of the best in the city), which you can do as half or full serve, burgers, steaks, and wings tossed in a sticky house sauce alive with rosemary and onions. There’s also a range of more serious dishes like duck (had to be done, right?) served with polenta, mushrooms and rosemary jus. Kids’ menu? Sure thing. Salt and pepper calamari? You know it. This is a kitchen with gastro pub aspirations that seems to have nailed the balance between quality and not going overboard. Likewise, the denim-aproned staff are keen, friendly and know what they’re doing: a big plus if you’re going to commit to table service.
The Flying Duck is still a bit too new and shiny, and like most new places will take a few months to get lived in enough to feel really relaxed. But this has always been a local favourite, and with plenty to offer from footy to floor tiles, there’s every reason the revamped version will follow suit. Get down and help break it in.