Melbourne’s pub culture runs deep, and Victoria McDowall and Harry McArthur, having grown up there and spent a decade there respectively, wanted to channel a gastropub’s welcoming atmosphere at their Cuba Street venue The Ram.
The duo had already carved their own niche among Cuba Street's many beloved eateries with Fred's Sandwiches (which they opened in late 2021), and while The Ram is a completely different concept it's still intended to be a reliable and appealing go-to for a wide range of people.
The space is done up with a warm brick-red palette, deep-toned wood doweling along the walls and around the cosy booths, and round light fixtures casting a golden glow.
The 60-seat space is the first in New Zealand to be kitted out with Pitt & Giblin Superwax Mini loudspeakers, handmade in Tasmania from Tasmanian blackwood and bronze. Their high-quality sound means even if the music is pumping, you don't have to yell – although DJ sets on Fridays and Saturday nights are booked to bring the party.
McDowall and McArthur, along with head chef Phil Barclay, intend The Ram to be an appealing go-to for high-quality comfort food – as well as a relaxed drink. Among the range of snacks and larger plates there are several dishes you'd think of as pub classics: chicken parmigiana (or eggplant for a vegetarian option), a fish burger with house tartare, Sunday roasts, and steak with fries and peppercorn sauce or cafe de Paris butter.
Order the potato fritters and you'll be served a riff on the Kiwi fish'n'chip shop favourite with malt vinegar and aioli. You might have lasagne with a slow-cooked beef and pork ragu, or burrata with confit leek, chilli oil and chargrilled sourdough. The dessert is also popular, a miso caramel tiramisu that’s served tableside by one of the chefs who dollops it onto your plate in a satisfying scoop.
Drinks-wise, the wine list is concise but well-rounded and curated with a "something for everyone" approach. There's Negroni on tap (and $10 Negronis at happy hour) plus craft beers from local breweries – and VB by the can if you really want to channel Melbourne.
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