Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Green Man’s Arms
Green Man’s Arms Hotel
418 Lygon Street, Carlton.
When? April 20, 2018
Located on the site that was dominated by Carlton Football legend Percy Jones’ Astor Hotel, the Green Man’s Arms Hotel (GMAH) is a spectacular leap of faith from owners Alison Whyte and Fred Whitlock to challenge pre-existing prejudices when it comes to pub dining.
It is summed up in two words: Vegetarian. Vegan. Top to Bottom. No ifs/buts or slight tweaks. Parma No. Polenta Yes.
Compare and contrast Percy’s Astor, rich in hearty Hungarian offerings of delicious Stews/Sausage to Alison and Fred’s GMAH’s brilliantly tasty Mushrooms/Beets.. To be as confident and bold to go down this line deserves respect and success. And on a recent Thursday night the joint jumped.
The only nod to the ghosts of the Astor is the split level where dining takes place in front of an open kitchen, whereas the focus of the pub, the front bar, is alight with craft beer, interesting wines and music at the right level.
The look inside with its delightful patterned wallpaper, pieces of crockery from their Yarra Glen pub brings the old world; banquette seating, dark rubber top, timber tables and bang on cutlery brings the feel of sharp diner. It is not quite cheek by jowl dining but not too far removed.
There is a vibe and the age demographic that belies a view that its hippies and hipsters only. Be in no doubt this is a pub. A place of community and comfort.
Go on, be different. The Green Man’s Arms is a beauty.
I love the expression Pub Grub 101. There’s no Porterhouses here so why not the Cauliflower steak with cauliflower puree, currant, lemon zest, herb & nut salsa w zatar. (24).
No Beef/Chicken Tacos? Flatbread (excellent), tacos (2) for $15 that are filled with Tempura avocado, avocado puree, chipotle aioli w green leaves & herbs and Braised carrot, chervil, cumin pumpkin puree, rocket w tahini.
There’s not a sticky date pud, cream/ice cream, caramel sauce here that can be found on 90% of pub menus. Israeli coconut milk pudding (Malabi) w hibiscus syrup & pistachios sets you back a tenner.
The menu is not overly expansive with say an 8/8/3 split across the board.
Entrees 14, Mains 24, Desserts 9.
Portobello Mushroom Burger, pomme frites. $20. Very Good. A visual treat from the brioche, to the mushroom and the flavours working beautifully with the hero, and proper chips with a spicy dipper; his is an excellent substitute for its meatier brethren,
Pieroggi, Handmade vegan dumplings filled w desiree potato, dill & caramelised onion, beetroot slaw. $24. Good. The dumplings were light, filling, tasty and these larger than normal dumplings (about double in size) made for a very hearty main meal,
Chickpea flour pancake w/tahini lentils & a heirloom tomato, watercress & spring onion salad. $24. Good. Makes for an excellent share, as much to do with the excellent tomatoes, delightful dressing with salad as it has with the Pancake. Good combinations.
Support of local craft beer here is unabashed. Fury and Son, Fixation, Wolf of the Willows ($6-6.5/pot) are a choice of 7 or so taps. Tried was Moon Dog Old mate Pale – $5. Never misses and well served.
Wine list doesn’t conform to the stock/standard and keeps choice to a manageable minimum. Prices around the median – $10g//45/bottle. Bass River Riesling – $10/g – was the choice and like most Australian Rieslings delivered.
SERVICE AND STYLE:
Hectic but attentive. In spite of the numbers service was prompt and efficient.
Couple of things to the Pub. If you have an answering machine, check it for bookings anyway. Second. To the young man who looked after our table, it’s not life and death. It’s a pub. When it’s as full as this, people want to be here. Enjoy, Relax.
If you track the progress of publicans, true testament to their knack of making things happen (hard work, dare, a smidge of luck, knowing market etc) is no issue where they go.
Alison and Fred are not born into pubs nor learned from others parents and guardians. The Terminus in Victoria Street was their first, run down and gaudy, was turned into a home for latenighters and op shop furniture before that became trendy.
The Grand in Yarra Valley, opulent and old world is another. Absolute anathema to its inner east predecessor, but still with a feel that exudes comfort and community; two words I constantly use.
If you have been to the Cornish Arms in nearby Brunswick, and liked its point of difference, then the GMAH is genuinely next level.
On entering, I spied a customer with iridescent green hair and was reminded of an excellent D-Generation comment (Jane Kennedy) about walking into a health food shop and being served by an emaciated 16yo with a horrible smokers cough. Any stereotypical thoughts soon dispelled with the next table along housing Grandma and Grandpa punching into a Polenta dish.
The Green Man’s Arms, Carlton, caters for all.
For once, only once, do different. Go here. You’ll like it.