hen in need of a parma, a good steak, a pot of draught and a place to perch and watch the footy, you need a pub. A good old school pub. Often owned by a solo operator or a handful of people who just want to keep things simple, the old school pub is a timeless institution. Here are a few of our favourites.
Sitting at the bar of this much-loved Fitzroy watering hole, you can’t help but feel part of the furniture. The Napier’s welcoming mood and cluttered front bar leads to a maze of rooms inside and a courtyard out the back. Everyone seems to know someone here and if you don’t, it doesn’t matter. It’s a low-key, easy place for respite, always humming with regulars. The menu, with its infamous ‘Bogan Burger’ – which includes three meats and a potato cake on a bun – is one of the more generous and reasonably priced in the inner north.
Its recent sale made news at the end of April this year and locals set up a ‘Don’t Close the Rose’ Facebook page in the fear that the pub might be bought and turned into apartments. These fears were allayed as the new owners vowed to keep it as it is – a pub with a solid sports following. This is where you drink beer and watch the footy, with a simple menu of parmas, pastas, fish ‘n’ chips and good beer.
406 Napier Street, Fitzroy
(03) 9417 3626
The College Lawn
Different bar areas nurture different moods and the College Lawn accommodates everything from the sports-hungry to the, simply, hungry. There are locals’ nights, steak days and a happy hour on Friday afternoon, not to mention the meat tray raffle drawn every Friday night. We do love a good meat tray.
36 Greville Street, Prahran
(03) 9810 0074M
The Victoria Hotel
Want to see a good local band? Check out The Vic’s Facebook page for starters: there are bands on Friday, Saturday and Sundays with $10 jugs on Sundays too. The food is a backdrop to the good beer, easy vibe and live music. It’s a Brunswick gem.
380 Victoria Street, Brunswick
(03) 9388 0830
It’s open Monday to Friday (with dinners Thursday and Friday nights only), but is hard to look past when a decent steak is needed. Chef Ron O’Bryan, formerly the head chef at Church Street Enoteca, took over The Vine in May 2011 and has kept its old-school vibe while upping the ante with a sharp, seasonal menu.
59 Wellington Street, Collingwood
(03) 9417 2434
The Commercial Club Hotel
Meet you at the Commercial? It’s a common catch-cry for those who live on the western side of Fitzroy. A simple menu of pizzas, parma, roasted meats with veggies and a good red lentil dhal support the huge space, with its pool table, front bar and courtyard out back. Pictures of Nick Cave and Johnny Cash line the walls, paying homage to the management’s love of music and there’s always a footy game on over the weekend. The perfect inner city for a pony of Carlton Draught.
The Windsor Castle
What The Napier is to Fitzroy, The Windsor Castle is to Prahran. An eclectic clutter of style and comfort that’s just right for kicking back and listening to tunes over the weekend. With a buzzing beer garden in summer and a place for a pint by the fireplace in the winter, its flexibility and quirky character keeps the south-of-the-river crew happy.
The Post Office Hotel
If there was ever a place to immerse yourself in a Sunday session, this is the one. Live music from 4.30pm Sundays and a smart menu in the bar area and dining room by chef Troy Payne, make it an easy place to melt into. Live music is absolutely part of the culture through the week too. Good bands and good food – it doesn’t get much better than that.
231 Sydney Road, Coburg
(03) 9386 5300