There was a time when the grungy Grace Darling was the kind of pub which you’d cross the road to avoid. Now the pretty brick and stone building has been given a good clean-up and on a sunny day you’ll find the pub full of youngsters spilling out on the pavement tables and filling up the glamorous inside bar.

Grace Darling Hotel, 114 Smith St, Collingwood‎

So the crowd inside the pub’s atrium dining room was a bit unexpected – it seems to attract an older, quarter-acre block, class of diner. Maybe the youngsters go to the Grace Darling to drink, not to eat, which would be a shame as I think the food is good and the prices are reasonable.

Grace Darling Hotel, 114 Smith St, Collingwood‎

The kitchen is doing some interesting things with a traditional pub menu.  One of their staples is their fancy-pants version of the chicken parmigiana ($18), a terracotta ramekin containing a slow cooked chicken breast layered with prosciutto and parmesan crumbs. Not being much of a parma fan, I much preferred this gourmet version, although it was more of a winter meal and felt quite heavy in my stomach afterwards.

Grace Darling Hotel, 114 Smith St, Collingwood‎

Our other main was the daily special of pork chop with pecans, maple syrup, apple, pear and witloaf salad ($24.50). A gigantic pork chop was served on top of a mound of salad made of what seemed to be a dozen pieces of fruit. The salad was an inspired combination which delivered a contrasting crunch and sweetness to the juicy and tender meat. We really enjoyed this dish and it was definitely more suitable for a summer’s evening meal.

We originally had good intentions for dessert but the huge proportions of the meal left us much too full to contemplate the self-saucing chocolate pudding or hummingbird cake ($9 each). Never mind, we’ll be back to the Grace Darling.

You can also check out the review by The Age here.  Like gastropubs? Try The Court House and The Palace by Luke Mangan.

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