The Hotel South Melbourne on the corner of Clarendon Street and Market Street has lived many lives. It first opened as the Phoenix in 1854, and is thought to have been the headquarters of a local paper called the Weekly Times. It was converted into a rock venue called the Star Hotel in the 1970s, was transformed into a nightclub in the 1990s, and, in recent years, was home to a BYO-food watering hole called the Market Hotel.

Now, new custodians Tyson and Ashleigh Chambers have taken over and are focused on creating a slick venue where the food is just as important as the booze.

“It needed a revamp, it needed a refresh and it needed to be revitalised,” says Tyson, who with Ashleigh also owns Golden Hills Brewery in Diamond Creek. “It was so heavy on drinking before and we want to focus on the food and pair it with good drinks.”

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The duo have employed chef Lewis Bryce to oversee the food offering. The public bar caters for steak-and-parma traditionalists looking for pub classics, but in the dining room Bryce has created a more refined menu comprising dishes designed to be shared.

For snacks, options include house-made focaccia with whipped maple butter, cacio e pepe croquettes, and steak tartare with horseradish and parmesan cream. Mains include a 12-hour sous-vide lamb shoulder served with a saltbush and romesco sauce, and roast chicken with miso butter and leeks. There are also pizzas (many of which are vegan and all of which can be made gluten-free) and desserts including burnt Basque cheesecake and chocolate mousse.

There are 11 taps from Golden Hills Brewery; patrons will find a varied selection with a blood plum and feijoa sour and an Earl Grey IPA alongside more commonly found draught lagers and pale ales.

The fit-out, overseen by Mic Projects, spotlights whitewashed and exposed brick and original timber floors. The space also retains plenty of historic quirks, such as arches in the brick walls and parquetry the team uncovered upstairs.

Hotel South Melbourne
160 Clarendon Street, South Melbourne
9056 5569

Mon to Thu 12pm–11pm
Fri & Sat 12pm–Late
Sun 12pm–11pm