James Knox is sitting at a long hardwood table inside his new bar, Miss Moses. Nina Simone serenades through the speakers. As he discusses the menu, a Reuben sandwich sails past our heads in the hands of his wife, Paige. It’s robust and lightly browned, stuffed to the crust with rich, pink pastrami, and sauerkraut, pickles and house-made Russian dressing.

The popular hot American sandwich is just one of eight on the unpretentious menu at this relaxed, beer-focused bar on Sydney Road. Bready meals lead the charge – including a decadent grilled-cheese sandwich with truffle oil, and a Tokyo Roll filled with spiced calamari – but chef Yenni Gunawan (formerly of Rockpool, Cutler & Co and Proud Mary) also offers snacks, sides, salads and share plates that range from “substantial, greasy and dude-foody” to “light, vegetarian or vegan-friendly”.

“The [bar’s] name comes from a classic 1960s American song called The Weight by The Band,” Knox says. “It’s about a guy who goes back to his home town and faces his past. Miss Moses is one of the characters he meets. So it’s about going back to a place and feeling welcomed, at home. That’s how we want people to feel here.”

Knox shares a love of 1960s American blues and folk with his father, who helped out behind the scenes. He and Paige spin their own records behind the bar.

Now, the beer. A focus on cans feels inspired given the drinking-at-a-friend’s-place appeal of the place. Knox is a bartender of 15 years, formerly at Melbourne’s Belgian Bier Cafe and Brewdog in the UK, and worked as a distributor of craft beer when he returned to Australia. The list here currently stands at more than 40 different can options including IPAs, sours, pilsners and stouts.

“They’re currently all Australian but internationals will flow through. There’s less and less need to look beyond locals, though,” he says.

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Cans are half price every day between 4pm and 6pm.

Inside, its dark wood, exposed brick, vintage touches and re-purposed materials such as timber chairs from a French primary school. Outside, perch at a picnic table in the plant-filled beer garden with a few friends, and your dog, too; it’s a pooch-friendly venue and if you’re lucky you’ll meet resident kelpie-labrador Scout.

Miss Moses
581 Sydney Road, Brunswick
(03) 9041 9548

Hours:
Wed to Sun 12pm–11pm

missmoses.com.au