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Pub Of The Week review: Great Northern Hotel, Carlton North

Article image for Pub Of The Week review: Great Northern Hotel, Carlton North

Pub: Great Northern Hotel.

Where: 644 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North.

Phone: 9380 9569

Score: 15/20

When: July 21, 2017.



Third review. (last circa 2009).

The Great Northern Hotel, (GNH), top end of Rathdowne, is a bang on Melbourne institution as far as pubs go.

Set among a beautiful, wide, tree-lined street, the GNH is one of those pubs that genuinely falls into that rare category of “nothing’s wrong, don’t touch it”.

Almost out of place/non existent nowadays, a back street local, like its nearby cousin the Brandon, is one of shameless envy from my POV.

Who doesn’t want a happy, welcoming pub, extraordinary beer garden, great bistro, and old school front rectangular on your doorstep?

Imposing multi-story facade with what’s on emblazoned on the windows, brick and timber the features inside, thread bare carpet, cosy old-fashioned long bar with a heady and expansive mix of new and traditional beers, good pub grub at the right price, and no horses or pokies.

You make your own social scene there.

Here’s a throwback, so much in keeping with the GNH.  Go on a Saturday afternoon. The joint jumps with a crowd from near and far watching the footy. Of course, there’s closer but you just want to be there.

The GNH – an important, vital, part of Melbourne’s pub tapestry.


Fabulous, expansive  range of pub favs and specials all right priced sets you up for a long stay.

The kitchen likes to do its own food using beer to ramp it up, e.g., pork, fennel chilli IPA snags, fully plated  $22 – or 2 Brothers pilsener fish and chips – $22.

The pub uses Humpty Doo barramundi (real deal and great aussie success story), it may offer a special of Pork belly goulash, sour cream, peppers wild rice (20), or a proper pie of the day (20), full whack which was veal, potato and bacon when dining.

Entrees $10, mains $21, desserts $9.


Slider special. 2 for $15. Saganaki,  tuscan cabbage, radish, chipotle aioli. Very good. Sized between a mouthful and burger, the cheese had a little bird’s nest covering which gave the crunch; cabbage, radish and aioli all played beautifully off each other.  Great start.

Fish and chips. $22. Very good. Taxi pils is the batter, the flake is served 2 big fresh, fat fillets, salad clean and tasty, homemade tartare and chips – Yep.


The pub loves its craft beer, so tap and bottle means you are well, no extraordinarily,  catered for. A little Freo Dockers mascot playfully covers a popular commercial.  You are gently persuaded to try different!! The wine list is neatly set out and runs to the 8.5pg//42/bottle benchmark of most pub lists these days. Offers by glass limited. Waihopi Pinot G – $9pg – tried and all good there.


They love you.  They get it. Background music – swinging southern jazz for want of a genre – could have come down a notch or 3.  (As a generalisation, starting to notice the amping up of the background music lately at wrong time of the day – early lunch ain’t it).


All of us growing up would have been to a kid’s pantomime and got to the crescendo when the hero asks the audience; ‘Where’s naughty Neil/Nell?’. In unison we reply; ‘Look behind the couch’.

Where? ‘Look behind the couch!!!!!!!!!’ we exhorted more volubly.

The Great Northern Hotel is that. It’s there, has been and hopefully is forever. Everything works in an uncluttered, straightforward manner which, like the Emerald in South Melbourne affords it the ‘much loved’ accolade.

So if you are looking for ripping pub experience without the need for bells and whistles, then look behind the couch and you will see it.

The very excellent Great Northern Hotel, Carlton North.