IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT to envisage a better example of the individuality typical of some of Melbourne’s inner suburban venues than Moon Dog Brewery and Bar (17 Duke Street, Abbotsford. 9428 2307), which is located in an otherwise unremarkable side street with all the appearances of a light industrial area, rather than an entertainment precinct. However, the music and murmur of conversation wafting from the interior, and the smell of delicious pizzas emanating from the slightly decrepit caravan parked beside the building, are indications of the attractions awaiting those prepared to seek out this exceedingly quirky bar.
This is a bar which is probably best accessed via public transport, Uber or taxi, as the intriguing list of beers on the large blackboard behind the bar seem to increase exponentially in strength, and the variety on offer is likely to tempt anyone given to trying new things rather than restricting themselves to more commercial brews. There is even one particular brew available that turns drinker’s mouths blue—quite a popular side effect apparently. Moon Dog is a relaxed and very casual space, with well-used old couches, tables and chairs scattered about, easy going and well informed staff, and a clientele which isn’t restricted to any particular age or demographic. Drinkers are just as likely to have grey hair as green hair, there is free popcorn, a table tennis table, and all in all, a sense of having found a warm and welcoming oasis in an unlikely location. The only potential downside is that it can prove difficult to stop at just one of those pizzas.
The Retreat Hotel (280 Sydney Road, Brunswick. 9380 4090) features just about all the ingredients required for the perfect inner-city pub, heritage (established in 1842), live music (free), a beer garden for the warmer months, decent pub food (and dishes such lentil shepherd’s pie and a black bean, mushroom and brown rice burger mean vegetarians will also feel right at home), and of course the most vital ingredient of all— an abundance of character! One venue which has (despite exponentially rising land prices and the area’s ongoing gentrification) managed to retain 110 per cent of its true Fitzroy character, is The Napier (210 Napier Street, Fitzroy. 9419 4240), where local brews, a pool, a courtyard, fireplaces and a legendary towering, cholesterol laden construct known as a Bogan Burger (delicious but definitely not for the faint hearted) combine with the requisite intangible inner Melbourne ambience to draw in cheerful crowds of appreciative regulars. The Standard Hotel (293 Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy. 9419 4793) manages to perfectly live up to its own mantra “Hard to find, easy to love”, in that it lies nestled in a slightly confusing maze of one way streets, but rewards the intrepid explorer capable of finding it with a warm interior (the venue dates back to 1865), a renowned beer garden, large dining area, live music and, of course, lashings of genuine, inner-city Melbourne character.
Vegetarian and Vegan Delights at Green Man’s Arms
You can get a parma at just about any pub, but if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, traditional pub menus may offer you slim pickings. All this is set to change with the opening of Carlton’s new corner pub Green Man’s Arms, a friendly establishment serving only fresh, healthy and delicious vegetarian and vegan meals. Head chef David Raziel has created a fantastic, Israeliinfluenced meat-free menu, featuring falafel made from a secret Jerusalem recipe, a grilled vegetable salad with beets, red cabbage and almonds on labne, and house-made cous cous with roasted vegetables and a rich veggie stock. The desserts are to die for, with homemade halva ice cream and fresh ricotta in crunchy knafeh set to become favourites.
Mon–sun 4pm–late, 418 Lygon Street, Carlton. 9347 7419. greenmansarms.com.au
After building a steadfast fanbase at its Fitzroy location, filling up every weekend with falafel lovers eager for a fix, Melbourne’s renowned Lebanese restaurant has moved to a brand-new and bigger location on East Brunswick’s Lygon Street. The brainchild of Lebanese chef Elizabeth Kairouz, who has been creating delicious dishes since her childhood in Lebanon, and neighbour Anthony Hachem, Mama Manoush serves up contemporary, authentic Lebanese cuisine, including kafta, tabouli, kebkabbett and riz al jaj, with people travelling from far and wide to sample these delights. Mama Manoush’s new location features classic Victorian décor inside a chic warehouse space, an array of exciting new additions to the menu and a new beer garden, Mama’s Garden, which will serve street food alternatives.
Wed–thu and Sun 6pm–10pm, Fri–sat 5.30pm–late, 175–177 Lygon Street, East Brunswick. 9416 2300. mamamanoush.com.au