Pub Of The Week review: Tony Leonard visits the Cornish Arms Hotel, Brunswick
PUB: Cornish Arms Hotel.
WHERE? 163A Sydney Road, Brunswick.
PHONE: 9380 8383
WHEN? March 10, 2017.
Second review. (last March 2012).
The Cornish Arms Hotel is a genuine trailblazer in Australian pub life that has raised its offer to an extensive offer of vegan meals, while retaining traditional pub grub, set out in a large cavernous bar/dining room with a colourful beer garden at the rear.
On a nondescript Wednesday night, there’s 150-200 in – mums/dads/couples with a common aim of enjoyment in a reasonably priced pub doing different.
Middle of Sydney Rd between Brunswick and Glenlyon – not on a corner – and set among the brilliant suite of Turkish restaurants, the CAH greets you with a massive odd shaped bar, colourful blackboards setting out the specials, a small music stage to the right and then off to the wonderful beer garden at the rear.
It doesn’t look much from the outside, but the owners who also run the wonderful Spread Eagle Richmond, know how to win new chums with an offer of music/food and drink specials, but provide a range of vegan if that’s your thing.
And judging by the amount taking this option up, the CAH is on a winner.
The menu has more than its share of pub favourites, but the curiosity factor is its devotion to vegan meals.
Vegan mains include vegan souvlaki of Spiced duck & chicken seitan, with mixed salad, wrapped up with special garlic sauce & chili served with chips & salad at $21, or a vegan pizza named ‘Chilli non carne’ of ‘Beef’ & blackbean chilli, cheez, corn chips & salsa, finished with jalapenos & sour cream. $14.
Vegan burgers? Of course! Southern fried mock chicken fillet with facon, cheez, lettuce, tomato and chipotle aioli.
Entrees – $12, Mains $24, Desserts – not really.
Vegan hawaiian pizza of mock chicken, facon, & pineapple. $14. Good. Ultra thin base, good spread of toppings, enjoyable starter.
250G Angus Porterhouse, chargrilled, with garlic butter and chips/salad. $17.50 (normally $29). Very Good. Well seasoned thick rectangular tile of beef, asked for and delivered rare (achievement given the amount of orders), this was a fabulous Wednesday night bargain. VG pub meal.
Pork Belly. Slow cooked free range pork belly with warm salad of potato, red cabbage, apple and sour cherry gel. (GF). $25. Miss. The meat was fine and plentiful, the warm salad great, but – and not for the first time – the pork retained too much fat on top, with sadly no crackling. Oh, for a few more minutes.
Craft mainly, two taps of Coopers is the nod to the bigger boys, that embraces some of the newer players to the market. All served very well, clean taste.
Stone and Wood Pacific Ale (again – it’s great). $5.5/pot.
Wine list offers different, limited choices, and slightly under the Melbourne pub average at $9/glass//$36/bottle. And a bottle of vegan wine? Chaffey Bros Synonymous Shiraz at $9/glass.
SERVICE AND STYLE
In spite of the loud, happy, hectic nature of the pub, the staff skates around the tables, dodging patrons, taking meal and drink orders, delivering everything in the right timeframe.
There is a certain calmness to it all which belies the inherent activity.
In 2017, embracing a large portfolio of vegan meals may not seem such a big deal. Let me state that in publife Melbourne it is.
I can confidently assert that there may be only one or two more pubs that tread this path to the extent that the Cornish Arms does.
And it succeeds in spades.
Here’s the clincher for the CAH. It has an all ages appeal and the demographic of 18-80 (yes). Parties, catch ups, date night: it didn’t matter. This was community, writ large, all having a ripper night.
Take a walk on the not so wild side. Go vegan in a pub. The Cornish Arms Brunswick.
NOTE: About 12 years ago, I did seven rules of pub dining: in essence, what NOT to order.
Rule #1, was and is – ‘never order pub risotto’ – it is getting to the stage where ‘be wary of the pub pork belly’ may come in.
Of course, there are exceptions to them all, but does any pub really get it spot on?