Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the East Brunswick Hotel
East Brunswick Hotel
280 Lygon Street, East Brunswick.
When? November 15, 2019.
Around 15-20 years ago, the top/north end of Lygon St, really attracted the interest of smart operators and became one of the more desirable parts of Melbourne for its different food, cultures and location. It is another world compared to its Carlton cousin.
While the change continued, pubs in that area held the line; The Quarry, Lyndhurst and today’s POTW, The East Brunswick Hotel (Club), home for some of the best live music, (with conditions matching the sounds !!), and a pub that carried on the traditions of “live” long after the pub rock train had left.
After a number of changes in ownership, around 4 years ago the pub was transformed and subsequent operators have made only cosmetic changes since the seismic renovation.
This is one good looking pub now that genuinely encourages all ages. Food, drink and atmosphere are spot on but not overdone, and each day a special is offered. Big tick to the pub as only Mondays is it opened later (4pm), but each other it’s either 11am or noon. Not many in the area trade those long hours daily.
On 3 very neat levels, there is a cellar bar for private functions/dinner , front bar with small stage and loaded with industrial chic, upstairs cocktail bar and to finish with 12 apartments.
The East Brunswick has invested plenty on itself. It is a bet that they deserve to succeed.
Menu is kept tight, falls very much into the good pub grub with a couple of choices in the main food groups (steak, burger, pasta) and has a couple of classics as well. Pricing is fine and the pub claims to have a world famous dish!.
- Mac n Cheese Croquettes, black pepper aioli. 5/$12. More bite sized squares than croquettes, these pub beauties had deep flavour, very fresh, ably supported by the aioli. Great beer drinking food.
- 350g Rib Eye, chips, RWJ, salad. $36. Can’t miss cut of meat, no exception here. Excellent seasoning, cooked rare as ordered (although on reflection better suited MR), house made jus was deep and rich, and kindly the pub augmented the salad FOC.
- ‘World Famous’ Meatball. Peas, mash, BBQ sauce. Half pound – $19. (One pound $26 if you are that hungry). If a pub has a signature dish, then try try it and I wasn’t disappointed. The meatball held together beautifully, was well flavoured (thyme gently through it) and had been baked, retaining moisture with cheese and homemade sauce covering. (Extra provided). mash/peasgood, C’mon give it a crack.
Carlton D, Furphy, Coopers open the batting at the taps for the commercials at 6/10/12- pot/schooner /pint. Mountain Goat Steam, Stone/Wood, Balter are some of the well known craft, along with curiously named Feral Biggie Juice IPA. For the early start, the beer was very good and had been pulled through the lines before serving. So important to do that.
Wine is a smallish list and mostly fits that $10/45//gl/btle pricing. At $11pg was Alamos Malbec, deep rich red in colour and gentle in taste.
Not bad, maybe a notch lower, interesting playlist. It is lunch remember. 6.5/10.
An early midday start did not affect the service levels. Young crew behind the jump and on the floor made sure the welcome was warm and friendly. Good on them.
The layout of the front bar is mighty impressive. Can’t recall too many in Melbourne that have massive exposed steel beams as a feature but they look fantastic as they tower above you. Couple that with a bar made of completely recycled timber, and it is easy to see that a whole lot of thought has gone into the look.
The East Brunswick Hotel remains (at least to me) one of Melbourne’s great pub mysteries. Great location to have it to itself, food and bev is fine, and all the creature comforts are here to enjoy. Yet it has had periods of inactivity that are hard to fathom because the offer stands up very well to hot competition at the very cool end of Lygon St heading north.
This version, like the last, should never cease trading, and I wonder (?) whether it is too neat, too nice: complete anathema to its roots where its sheer grunge attracted crowds far and wide. All within the last 6-8 years.
To the present. This pub is well worth the trouble to get to and support. And remember what it was like back then fondly, to now. That in itself is reason to do.