PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
In the building also known as the Astor Hotel, Percy's Bar juggles both its location in Melbourne's Little Italy and its qualities as a student hangout in a way that speaks very much to its 20-year tenure in the area. To its credit, Percy's Bar and Bistro has remained completely unaffected by the Euro chic of Lygon Street. On the contrary, its dark wood bar supports the pots of mostly blue and occasionally white collared drinkers, that pub smell permeates from the carpet and the walls, and everybody knows your name. And there's probably something in the fact that every time I visit, Percy himself is at the bar behind a pot of VB, as if in disguise as a punter.
So completely without frills as to be almost charming, this place is a favourite among bar flies and students. The cheap and simple counter meals come in a sort of "meal deal" format like the parma and pot for $11, or you can enjoy their very lovely dining room where meals range around the $20-$25 mark. Chef Martin Blake says he cooks up mostly steak orders, the porterhouse being the most popular. Ask for his recommendation and he'll tell you the duck is what a lot of people come back for, served with orange brandy sauce with potatoes and vegetables. As I'm leaving someone at the bar asks me what I'm taking notes for: "You a cop or something?". Before I can answer, a response comes from his drinking partner, a middle-aged woman cradling a pint of dark ale. "Nah, she's probably here for some wanky magazine", but I'm already half-way out the door.