“People have asked, ‘Did you do anything?’ But that’s what it’s supposed to look like. We try to bring pubs back to the community, and the heart and soul [of the area].”

That’s publican Will Benjamin, who – along with a crack team – owns Marquis of Lorne, Union House, the Mount Erica Hotel, Werribee’s Bridge Hotel and now the iconic Royal Oak Hotel on Nicholson Street in Fitzroy North.

It’s served the neighbourhood since 1871 and the team has given the solid brick building a refresh that respects its roots. The public bar’s original tiles remain, as does the carpet, plus find exposed brick features, cosy nooks with open fireplaces and cushy leather booths. But the familiar bright green facade is now burgundy and cream.

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Heading up the kitchen is executive chef Scott Stevenson alongside Robbie Noble, Vue de Monde’s former sous chef. They’re serving all the crowd-pleasing pub classics – like hulking schnitties with mustardy gravy and beer battered fish’n’chips – with some European bistro-style meals. You might find dishes like hefty pork sausages with cavolo nero and smoked lentils, or grilled leeks with sauce gribiche. Snacks include spiced lamb cigars with harissa and fried onion rings with sour cream and chives.

Served from the dark wooden bar is a robust wine list curated by guru Lyndon Kubis (The Hills, The Alps) to include an array of local and Euro-leaning drops.

Royal Oak Hotel
442 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy North

Mon to Thu 4pm–11pm
Fri & Sat 12pm–12.45am
Sun 12pm–11pm