If Johnny Cash and Nick Cave had a drink together in a bar it would probably be at The Commercial Club Hotel. Together, the two musicians would need a place that’d demand an earthiness and warrant a little brooding, with an intelligent mix of personal style and individual freedom; all elements this Fitzroy pub has in spades. You can find portraits of both artists on the wall here and discover an atmosphere that lacks pretension but maintains a casual professionalism backed by its two owners.
Anthony Hammond and Patrick Walsh both have good restaurant and bar pedigrees from years of managing the bars in St Kilda’s Prince of Wales (the Public and Mink) as well as stints at The George and The European in the city. You can ask either of them fancy questions about the decent wines and beers they put on their succinct list, but ask them details on your team’s latest score or if you can have a toasty at the bar and you’ll receive as enthusiastic a response.
The crowd is an easy mix of inner-city professionals and families, hospitality folk and anyone else who likes to make a place their own. The bar is a utilitarian design using the room around it well; open spaces, the odd chandelier, large wooden tables in the dining room, benches and stools padded in black and a beer garden out back. Through all this, the food maintains the ethos of simplicity, quality and generosity in chicken parmas, burgers, pies and pizzas, rounding out what is already a relaxed and very smart experience.