An iconic Geelong pub has been resurrected under the leadership of local custodians Kym Robertson and Don Little. Previously trading as The Bended Elbow and then The Yarra Hotel, Bended sits at 69 Yarra Street and owes its name to that of the prior establishment. Although maintaining they aren’t associated with the Bended Elbow brand, Kym says “we’ve called it Bended to emulate the great things that Bended Elbow was famous for”.
Meal deal nights, welcoming service and live music are preserved by Bended with Mondays being a steak night and Tuesdays a parma night, both for $13.90. Second Chance Wednesdays allow diners to choose a steak or parma, and the duo has just introduced trivia from 7 p.m. Sundays see a roast dinner for $12.90 and live music from 3 p.m. onwards. In addition to Sunday sessions, Bended host live bands playing every Friday and Saturday nights, as well as acoustic singles and duos. Upstairs opens soon and will showcase bigger acts once a month, as well as corporate events, conferences and functions.
Kym speaks of Bended in a tone that suggests pride and excitement, and this can be attributed to her finally realising a dream in an industry she has dominated. “I always wanted to have a local. You know, where people would come in and we’d know everyone’s names. I never thought I’d actually do it though, but the opportunity arose and I love it,” says Kym.
During our chat she greets the patrons as they enter and I find myself inspired by her genuine personability and passion. A great relationship amongst staff is evident and Kym tells me they often visit Little Malop Street’s Beav’s Bar for Wednesday night knock-off drinks and karaoke, which she is considering introducing to a night at Bended.
Vast structural changes are occurring upstairs prior to its reopening, whereas downstairs, with its Japanese oak bar and brass fittings, required only “repainting and freshening up”. Despite making minimal alterations to the overall framework, Kym, who has managed Home House, Eureka and The Carlton Hotel, has implemented extensive changes to the food and drinks on offer.
“We are doing pub fare, a little high end. We offer handmade pasta with natural, local produce and have a great pork rib eye on the menu,” says Kim. But the favourite is the parma. Served with salad and steakhouse chips, the Aussie favourite took the chefs a month to refine. A decent kid’s meal offers more options than most including a little pirate chicken parma and chips, long rope fresh-cut Napoli pasti and peg leg chicken fingers and chips, all for $9. All kids meals come with salad or veggies, and for the under 12s a drink and ice cream is included.
Bended runs 16 rotating craft beers and ciders on tap and aims to look after the smaller Geelong and Melbourne-based breweries. The spacious Geelong landmark has three beer gardens and will showcase some of Australia’s top kegs otherwise missing from the Geelong pub scene, including Byron Bay’s Stone and Wood. Kym and Don have kept the wine list very local, with appearances from Leura Park and Jack Rabbit vineyards and Bended has found that their clientele appreciate this nod to our impressive region.
Blessedly free of poker machines in a town somewhat addled by them, Bended is a relaxed local that values its blow-ins as much as those that frequent the boozer. Cold, clean, quality beer is aplenty, courtesy of what Kym says is a fantastic dispensing system. Patrons can enjoy affordable meals delivered by friendly wait staff with accents to die for and plasma screens occupy wall space on the bottom level, making the pub a popular spot for footy fans. There is an ATM and a cigarette machine on premises. Bended is open seven days from 11.30 a.m. until late.
Info: 69 Yarra Street, Geelong / Ph: 03 5229 4477 / Open 7 days, lunch and dinner / bended.com.au
Words and photos by Danielle Shaw