Brunswick’s Railway Hotel has long been a north-side institution. And the three-storey, nearly 140-year-old pub on Albert Street has one hell of a backstory. It’s served as a morgue and a hostel – among other things – in its long lifetime.
Most recently, and memorably, it was a pub. But the good times stopped rolling in 2016 when it closed following a drug bust. But now, after a major reno by hospitality collective Riverland Group (The Boatbuilders Yard, Riverland, Pilgrim), it trades as Hotel Railway, a 965-person mega-pub with equal measures of modern flair and lived in charm.
Enter the public bar through a Victorian-era hallway to find slick wooden furnishings and several communal areas flooded with natural light. The centrepiece is a striking 17-metre brick bar, where 12 beers pour on tap and plenty of bottled options line the fridges. Cocktail-wise, the list covers the classics as well as a few specials using house ferments and syrups. Vermouth is another focus – there are more than 30 Aussie-made options.
The first of two food menus centres on classic pub grub; think Wagyu cheeseburgers with fries, chicken schnitzels with slaw, Porterhouse steaks and a handful of pizzas. Moving into the spacious dining room, there’s a second, slightly swankier Eastern Mediterranean menu. serving fried cauliflower bites with harissa; barramundi crudo with pickled carrots and pepperoncini; and proteins fired over a charcoal rotisserie.
In the beer garden, the style is adjacent to the menu. European terracotta tiles line the sunlit floor and walls, with greenery scattered throughout. An elevated area is built on the foundations of an old neighbouring townhouse – with a fireplace still intact.
There’s also a laid-back, late-night corner bar – behind the pub’s preserved historical facade – that’s licensed until 3am, with dark wood furnishings and vinyl-only DJs.
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