Best Bars

Where Melbourne - - Contents - By Peter Mcbrearty

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. green­

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. ma­ma­

Left and above: Moon Dog Brew­ery and Bar.

Photo: Eu­gene Hy­land.

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