PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
John Rubira gets it right every time. His formula is apparently simple but hard to do well. Take a pub, make it look nice but not glitzy, and serve a range of excellent seafood with a blackboard menu that changes according to what's come in from the sea. He's done it a number of times, the last being in Sorrento, and now he's back in Melbourne. The Swallows pub is 140 years old and is rather cosy with cream walls and accents of dark green and red. It's attractive, but it's still clearly an old pub which is a lovable fact in itself.
There's a menu, but the real attraction is what's written on the blackboard that lists the available fish and their provenance, from places as far afield as Queenscliff (Victoria) and Shark Bay (Queensland) and even New Zealand. For the most part, the fish is served very simply – take your pick of egg wash, grilled or battered. Mostly, the fish is served filleted and we thoroughly recommend egg-wash dipped garfish fillets, grilled whole snapper and fried whiting. It depends up on what is available at the time but waiters are close by to give good advice. There is a range of salads and vegetables to accompany your meal, and fried calamari or oysters – again from various regions – to start. The wine list is wide-ranging and reasonably priced, and the bar has its own small menu.