Earlier this week the Mount Erica Hotel in Prahran finally opened its freshly painted doors. Locals had been waiting for this moment for months. The pub closed suddenly last December, but then began to again show signs of life in July. The hotel’s new tenants – Will Benjamin, Matt Vero, Callan Hitchens and chef Sean Donovan – had moved in. A fresh coat of white paint on the historic facade last month signalled to the neighbourhood that an opening was near.
Locals streamed in on Wednesday evening, Benjamin says, when the pub quietly opened for the first time.
The team, which is also behind the Marquis of Lorne and Union House, undertook a significant renovation of the pub’s tired interior, helmed by designer Wendy Bergman. The goal was to create a space that felt contemporary but also warm and familiar – somewhere people could watch the footy with a pint and a burger, or come for a lighter meal with a good glass of wine.
The front bar is simple and minimal with the classic hallmarks of a local pub – traditional bentwood stools, several TVs (this will please the footy crowd come winter), and high benches for groups to mill around. The dining room and lounge area – with dramatic stained-timber-panelled walls and a large original fireplace – is warm thanks to a number of design flourishes inspired by the Grand Budapest Hotel.
“We were hoping to achieve a look that is little more timeless and already feels worn in, with some mid-century charm,” Benjamin says. That includes timber floors, tartan, tiles and expansive original windows in the main public bar, and “a cheeky reference” to Wes Anderson’s 2014 film in the lounge area. Think cork flooring, a carpeted area and comfy upholstered chairs.
Donovan’s menu is broken into several sections: Bar Food, Counter Meals, Steaks and Rotisserie. You’ll find usual pub suspects such as chicken parma and fish and chips alongside premium market fish and rotisserie lamb rump.
From Monday to Friday you can get a counter meal for $15 between midday and 3pm, and Tuesday is steak night – get a 300-gram porterhouse with chips and salad for $18.
Broadsheet will bring you a look inside the pub next week.