In January, when chef-restaurateur Jessi Singh opened Flinders Lane wine bar Mrs Singh, its “Indian-ish” menu represented a shift from the modern Indian fare at the other restaurants he co-owns, Daughter in Law, and Horn Please.
This month he’s launching another playful venue – a four-story Indian-British pub in South Melbourne called Mr Brownie, complete with rooftop bar, basement speakeasy and bottle shop.
“Most of the British pub names in the UK and Australia are very Anglo, very white. We’re going into 2020 and … I want to acknowledge people of colour too,” Singh says.
The Clarendon Street spot will serve “Indian-British” pub meals inspired by the mishmash of cuisines found at some hotels in the UK.
“The idea is that curry and a beer always win together,” says Singh. “People are discovering wine can go with Indian food, but beer was always a thing. The goal is to be part of the neighbourhood, where you can come quickly for a bowl of curry and a beer.”
On the menu: curry-salted chips with curry gravy; samosa burgers; curries; and Indian-style spring rolls.
“We’re also making pies,” says Singh. “Palak paneer pie. Coconut veggie pie. Chicken tikka masala pie. Beef vindaloo pie. Pies have always been a big part of Australia. And no matter which bakery you go to, you always find a curry pie.”
There’ll be 500 bottled beers and another 16 on tap, alongside two pét-nats from Tasmania and Canberra and four other Aussie wines.
When restrictions allow, Singh plans to set up a 70-seat beer garden on the footpath out the front. In the basement will be Boom Boom Boom – a neon-lit cocktail bar accessible through a concealed wall of beer cans. And on the rooftop there’ll be a pop-up tiki bar, with space for DJs and a striking view of Melbourne’s CBD.
“We’ve got a pub with a view. You don’t have to go to a fancy cocktail bar to get a view, you can get a beer with a view.”
The Mr Brownie Rooftop Hotel opens on Thursday July 2 at 343 Clarendon Street, South Melbourne.