Fitzroy’s fiercely loved – but well-worn – Rose reopened last week after a much-needed makeover. But although the refurb was a touchy subject among locals, so far, it’s been well received.
“The feedback has been awesome,” says new co-owner Tom Hogan, who also owns Harry & Frankie bottle shop and bar in Port Melbourne. “All the old regulars have come back, at least to have a look, and I think they’re surprised that we haven’t put a gastropub downstairs. It still very much feels like the Rose.”
It’s bigger and shinier than it was after Harrison Interiors' handiwork, but it does still look like the pub of old, with its exposed-brick walls, central bar, AFL memorabilia and sports screens. The carpet has gone, but there’s still Carlton Draught and Coopers Pale on tap, a decent parma and a burger, and options for the kids. There’s even a familiar face behind the bar: Len Caistor, who worked at the pub before Hogan and John Tennent took it over, has stayed on to manage downstairs.
“We didn’t want to alienate the locals who still want that footy-loving, beer-focused pub,” says Hogan.
Upstairs is a slightly different story. It’s Harry & Frankie volume two, so the focus is on wine. Pete Connell (ex-Stokehouse sommelier) has come on board to manage the space. Like in Port Melbourne, there’s a changing by-the-glass list (plus bottles on the shelves), nightly food specials, and snacks such as pate; salmon gravlax with tapioca crisps; pork-belly bao buns; and a range of cheese and charcuterie.
“We’re really happy that the whole place has been received well so far,” says Hogan. “People are happy with the food, beer and wine. Especially the regulars. They add real fibre and authenticity to the pub, especially those guys that have been drinking here for 50 years.”