Melbourne pubs have always known how to reinvent themselves to adapt to the society around them: the 6 hour swill and rissoles slowly turned into “another sangiovese with your rooster?” And just in time for winter 2021, a slab of venerable hotels have redesigned menus, offers and outlook.
If the walls of the Sarah sands could talk, can they please not mention the nights when things got tricky watching bands there in the early 90s? Best to get excited today, when the pub was spruced up by Australian Venue Co with a menu from chef Telina Menzies: think pub classics with extra veggies and an emphasis on local ingredients. It opens on May 31.
Sarah Sands Hotel, 29 Sydney Road, Brunswick, 03 8563 0052, sarahsandshotel.com.au
Watering hole by the bay Graham was bought and refurbished by Australian-born Turkish footballer Ersan Gulum and his wife Emel. The dining room atrium offers a view of the open kitchen and the fireplaces invite cozy winter meals. Chef Sam Hiroki (ex-Fog and Steer) offers a trendy gourmet menu. Dishes include school prawns with sumac, a chicken terrine with foie gras butter and a lamb shoulder pie.
The Graham Hotel, 97 Graham Street, Port Melbourne, 03 9676 2566, thegrahamhotel.com.au
Serial restaurateurs Paul Adamo, Vince Sofo and Jake Sofo have renamed the Old Colonial Inn in Fitzroy Hotel and updated the multi-site offer inside. The ground floor Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya is still the mainstay and there’s a rooftop bar with city views, but the new Cappo Sociale restaurant is sandwiched, with moody stalls and Italian food. classic from veteran chef Maurizio Esposito.
Fitzroy Hotel, 127 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 03 9417 4127, capposociale.com.au
The Espy Kitchen is now a stand-alone restaurant with a separate menu. Photo: Ryan McCurdy
TO The Esplanade in St Kilda, chef Ash Hicks has increased the appeal of the Espy Kitchen dining room as a stand-alone destination with winter favorites such as pine mushroom stew with stracciatella and nori, slow roasted shoulder of lamb with grilled beans and salsa verde, and cream of Dutch potato au gratin with sour cream and chives. The main bar still focuses on pub classics, pizza and burgers, while upstairs Mya Tiger goes for lively Cantonese cuisine.
11 L’Esplanade, St Kilda, 03 9534 0211, hotelesplanade.com.au
In Kyneton, Frank Moylan and Melissa Macfarlane opened Botanik, a cocktail bar and bottle shop that also sells houseplants, to their Royal George Hotel. Open Wednesday to Sunday, as well as Friday and Saturday evenings. It is open Wednesday through Sunday and daily consumption is encouraged. But they are also open on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Botanik at the Royal George Hotel, 22 Piper Street, Kyneton, 03 5417 2345, royalgeorge.com.au