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Wendy Hargreaves: Here’s where to find Melbourne’s best open fires

By WENDY HARGREAVES

What’s not to love about an open fire when the mercury plummets in winter? Thawing cold fingers in front of a roaring fireplace meets all the primal urges on a cold day, especially when you’ve just ordered a warming plate of food and a glass of your favourite tipple.

The Lincoln
91 Cardigan St, Carlton
03) 9347 4666 or hotellincoln.com.au

Warm hospitality, loads of comfort food and an excellent booze list make the Lincoln one of Melbourne’s most inviting pubs, especially in winter when the fire’s roaring. Settle in with a glass of your favourite tipple and work your way through the menu.

Neighbourhood Wine
1 Reid St, Fitzroy North
(03) 9486 8306 or neighbourhoodwine.com

With dimly-lit lounge rooms and comfy furniture, Neighbourhood Wine is more like a club house than a bar, hinting at its past life as an underworld gambling den. Sit at cosy wooden tables or along the long, wide, candle-lit bar, and do your best to grab a spot on the couches next to the big old open fireplace. It’s the perfect place to work your way through Neighbourhood’s impressive wine list and euro comfort food. Then stick around for a game of pool on their massive billiards table.

Olivigna
54-56 Brumbys Rd, Warrandyte South
(03) 9844 4676

A little pocket of Tuscany in the hills south of Warrandyte at Pietro Gallo Estate, Olivigna Restaurant serves all the comforting Italian tucker with a big open fire. And if you’ve got a skipper, you can have crack at their gold-medal winning grappa, distilled at the estate in Australia’s only purpose-built grappa still.

Union Club Hotel
Cnr Gorr and Webb streets, Fitzroy
(03) 9417 2926 or peacockinnhotel.com.au

Long before it became famous on the TV series Offspring, the Union was already renowned for its retro vibe, old-school pub grub and friendly service. When the temperature plummets, head straight for the well-worn couch by the fireplace for a plate of chicken parma or bangers and mash.

Neptune
212 High St, Windsor
(03) 9533 2827 or neptune.melbourne

A dating hotspot, the best seat in the house at Neptune is the Chesterfield couch next to a big fire at the back of the venue. Order some cheese, charcuterie and a glass of wine and enjoy the slow thaw.

OUT OF TOWN
Take a wintery walk on the Airey’s Inlet beach, knowing you’re not far from the open fireplaces at the Aireys Pub, home of a very decent counter meal and some excellent country hospitality.

Another little pub in Victoria’s west has perfected this fireside ritual with some seriously good comfort food. The Bunyip Hotel in Cavendish specialises in old-school Western District cooking, delivered with a modern twist by chef James (Jimmy) Campbell, who returned to his home town after winning accolades as the head chef of Frank Camorra’s Sydney MoVida. Pull up a chair near the open fire and tuck into a plate of juicy corned beef and buttery mash. Make sure you leave room for the golden syrup dumplings, one of many classic country dishes reflecting Campbell’s farm upbringing.

And while you’re in the area, drive just 20 minutes south-west of Cavendish to Dunkeld, where the famous Royal Mail Hotel has a huge open fire burning in the front bar. Chef Robin Wickens has a fine diner out the back, but delicious shared plates will always be available in the bistro.

Wendy writes online at fiveofthebest.com 

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