A 150-year-old Collingwood pub reboots with a Latin American menu and the crew from Abbotsford brewery Bodriggy.

The Albion Hotel has loomed large on Smith Street since 1874, but more recently it’s been known as a late-night gambling den called Punter’s Palace. Enter the team from Bodriggy, who swung the doors open on a new era for the pub in December last year after a comprehensive six-month re-do. With an old-school feel but a new-school Latin American menu courtesy of chef Johny Dominguez, and a premium position on one of the best people-watching streets in the inner north, The Albion has become a high-low go-to for a Collingwood set who like their beer local but their oysters aguachile; here’s what to order when you get there, according to owner Pete Walsh.  Beware: some of it is “horribly moreish”.

How about a drink?
One thing I love about The Albion is you can feel the history as soon as you walk in. There would have been a million beers sunk in there over a century or so and there’s something about drinking an ice-cold schooner on Smith Street that can’t be beaten. One of the advantages we have is being able to supply our beers directly from Bodriggy just a few blocks away in Abbotsford. Quite often we’re tapping kegs that were filled that very day, and you can really taste that freshness. After a schooey or two I normally gravitate to our wine list. We’ve collaborated directly with some local wineries in Little Reddie and El’more Wines who’ve made some small-batch, delicious natties specifically for The Albion.

I’m here for a good time not a long time.
You can’t go too far wrong with any of the starter options, but my go-to is the arepa de alambre in combination with the kingfish tiradito. I use the arepa to mop up the leche de tigre sauce from the kingfish and it’s an absolute magic combination; perfect for a quick bite at lunch or sneaky entrée.

Got anything light and fresh?
The oysters aguachile are super zesty and light and delivered daily. I normally knock a few of those down with a crisp prosecco.

What if I like tasty food but don’t eat animals?
The Albion’s best-selling dish is our cauliflower steak, which we drizzle with chimichurri. Apart from the delicious taste, what I love about this dish is we use every component of the plant. The purée comes from the stems and leaves, and then we deep fry the florets and use them as garnish with pickled onions. 

Name the dish that captures the vibe of The Albion Hotel.
Our 12-hour beef brisket torta is always a winner. You need to be willing to get down and dirty a little because of the birria that it comes with it. The secret is to dip and not pour – or alternatively, pack a bib.

Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
The menu at The Albion is made to share, so it’s all about choosing the right combinations. You need to put yourself in a position to consistently have the right vessel to be moping up sauces. To achieve this, I would recommend either starting with the arepa de alambre and kingfish tiradito combination suggested earlier, or alternatively, try the chorizo with the cheese-stuffed jalapeño taco. Then move to a marinated chicken breast in combination with potato fries and the cream de aji amarillo sauce, a Peruvian cheese sauce, because who doesn’t like chicken and chips? You can’t go too far wrong, but as I said, be smart – choose your mopping vessel wisely.

And to close?
I actually couldn’t split our two dessert options, so I would recommend getting both of them to share. The churro ice-cream sandwich is crunchy, hot and gooey and is actually a lovely contrast from the crème brûlée, which is textual, velvety and horribly moreish.

The Albion Hotel, 318 Smith St, Collingwood, (03) 9965 0996. Open daily from noon till late, albionhotel.pub, @albionhotelcollingwood