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Pub Of The Week review: Tony Leonard visits the Shaw Davey Slum

Article image for Pub Of The Week review: Tony Leonard visits the Shaw Davey Slum

You can find all the latest Pub Of The Week reviews HERE and don’t miss Tony’s segment with Neil Mitchell every Friday morning at 11.45am.

PUB: Shaw Davey Slum

WHERE? 171-175 Elgin Street, Carlton.

PHONE: 9825 8980

SCORE: 12.5/20

WHEN? April 28, 2017.



First review. Grand old pub which formerly traded as Pugg Mahone’s (and long  before that Stewarts) in Elgin St Carlton, the Shaw Davey Slum (SDS) is a brand new take on the ‘Student’ pub offering a range of food and drink at very cheap prices.

That is not to say the pub is just a shell to save some cash: Indeed while all the Irishness of booths and snugs have been removed (with the diddly diddly) a more open and contemporary look, spread out over 2 floors is presented.

Lower level comprises 3 large areas for dining and socialising, with a very groovy bar top and golden bar stools facing Elgin.  Upstairs has a retractable roof to let in the rays providing a beer garden when warm, and covered dining area when chilly.

The SDS is part of a group of pubs/bars operated by Savvy Retail, most notably Asian Beer Cafe.  Clearly they know their stuff as the aforementioned, like the SDS, has a big reputation for being able to operate successfully on seemingly insanely low margins.  The pub operates a small takeaway Bottle-O, (closes 930 every night) and again fairly priced.

Lot to like about the SDS but in equal measure let down by some basic hospitality errors. There is an undeniable curiosity factor here demanding a look.


Let’s start with $5 pizzas – good size, 6 slices, 4 styles for starters. Entrees include arancini of mozzarella – 3 pieces $7, or big slice of camembert, with beetroot relish for $7. There’s a range of burgers all hovering around $12-14, the black angus cheeseburger, full whack $13, and a host of pub mains such a 200g steak at $16. All day/every.  Salted caramel and popcorn panna cotta will set you back $5.

Entrees $8, Mains $14, Desserts $5.


Given the fairness of pricing, a number of items were chosen;  – 3 small dishes for $20.  These were, Buffalo wings 6 for $8. Good, meaty, tasty. Honey Glazed Chorizo 6 pieces $8. Again a neat and tasty starter; and 3 pieces Pork Belly for $10. A tad dry, but in essence got them right.

– Spicy meat lovers pizza – $5. Great shopping at the price, neat base, good flavours, very popular for sure.

Rump steak, 200g, cinnamon sweet potato chips. $16.  Hmm.  Steak arrived barely room temp and was stringy;  just a meal, chips were good. Not sure what happened there.

Butter Chicken curry, with roti ($15).  Very good pub curry, great roti, hot and filling, yes and more please.


Mainly served by schooner, (big no from me), starting at $5, but there are some selected lines at $2/pot.

No one does $2 pots in 2017. The beer was Bowler Golden Ale, which was let down by the glassware which had the effect of making it flat from the get go. No lace on the inside. This is easily remedied but increasingly no one seems to want to look after this or teach properly how to clean and pour.  Wine menu had some lesser known brands and fairly priced around the $8/glass.


Pretty quiet day but pleasant enough from the 2 staff on. Lunchtime background music was too loud.


There is no doubt that this is a successful model, and with the pricing is already a winner with the punters. Let’s face it 3 pots and a pizza in a pub in 2017 and it costs you $11 is startling so if you are tight for cash and want a night out then head here.

Save for some basic stuff, easily addressed and it is rated higher. I’m still at a loss how they do this for the price, without any bottomline from pokies or TAB is a mystery, but good on them.

As for the name, the Shaw Davey Slum go to the pub’s website for the explanation. It is hard to believe some people thought Carlton was an impoverished area back in the late 50s.