Pub: Union Club Hotel
Where: 164 Gore St Fitzroy
Phone: 9417 2926
Date: 2 November 2012
First time visit - instant reaction: I want to be here.
Many thanks to listener who enquired about the location of “Jack Irish”, the Guy Pearce character from the acclaimed ABC series of the same name. The Union Club was the answer and for years I wanted to peer inside but with the later opening hours in the week, it just did not suit.
But now, Thursday lunches available, the opportunity to sample was too great; I am glad I did, as this pub is a beauty.
Kylie stepped back in time, and here, as you walk in, it is a living, breathing tribute to the aussie lounge/kitchens of the 60s. Same furniture, same fittings, same high ceilings, and the too loud lunchtime soundtrack (the only blemish) greeting us with the Rolling Stones/Who.
‘60s and then some.
The Union Club is a deceptively large brick boozer in Fitzroy. A smallish bar greets you and the draught is top notch. To the left is a large dining room with furniture and tables of various sizes and designs, but still in the 60’s. The lounge, literal and figurative, has the gas heater blaring on a freezing October day. Two seater couches? You bet, straight from Darren’s buy, swap, sell in all of their glorious well worn orange-ness!!
An AC/DC pinball machine hides furtively in a nook of the pub.
Through the lounge room and the outside courtyard is on two levels - the upper providing a view over the old factories of postcode 3065.
Food and drink is well priced, basic, but generous and honest. Families welcome, community connected, it is exactly what the area demands and gets.
The Union Club is screamingly popular and its easy to see why.
From my POV, Fitzroy is the best, most envied, area in Melbourne for their pubs. All of them seem to get it right and the Union Club is no exception.
From the get-go, you want to be here. Welcome, a drink, and then for a moment you take it all in, convincing yourself that this was your childhood, with a 2012 twist.
The only slow was the music. Just way loud for the number of people in and the time of day. That said the soundtrack of England's greatest made it somewhat palatable.
Food is good, simple pub grub and the “standard” menu provides value for money around $20. And different, such as the soy chili tofu burger, with tomato, coriander and eggplant relish for $17, or kangaroo, broccolini and macadamia nut mash and salad for $24.
Of course there are burgers (18) and free range chicken parmas fully plated for $20. But each day a blackboard special of a fish, sausage, pie or vegetarian is offered. Simple pizza specials weigh in around $13.
Fair shopping in my opinion.
The wine list is small, and reasonably priced, but the Union Club is all about a local neighborhood connect, and with no TAB/pokies, the owner/operators have certainly gathered a loyal following.
It is hospitality 101.
- Thai Beef Salad - $22. Angus eye fillet used, plentiful supply of meat, well spiced, Asian vegetables, large mound of rice. Big feed, very popular with the punters in that day,
- Lamb, Spinach and pine nut sausages (2), mash, peas, onion gravy. $18. Two long meaty tubes, all flavours noticeable, big dollop of well presented mash, thick gravy. Perfect pub tucker,
- Granite Hills Cab Sav - $42. At the higher end of their wine list, the vintage was 2006. Good depth, ready for drinking now, worked well with the mains. Priced to the mark.
What a beauty. The Union Club doesn’t have the best food in Melbourne, but it get an easy pass mark. The Union Club is barely state of the art, but the reason that pubs exist is to provide that point of community: a place to go and feel good.
The pub works, and easily it could have been turned into a developers dream; mercifully it hasn’t. Just to have a beer and sit around, the Union Club welcomes you.
I think you’ll like.