The Gastronomic Pub Crawl of North Melbourne
Russell Degnan

With the North Star having been converted into apartments the technical side of the gastronomic pub crawl came to a rather quiet end (we went to the Town Hall instead). But a lack of fanfare would be grossly inappropriate on the blog, with its sense of purpose and mission, and enormous single-digit readership. And so, I will recap, for those of you who missed the early pubs, and because now is as good a time as any to cast judgement instead of being nice.

The Route:

1. The Castle Hotel
2. The Metropolitan Hotel
3. The Keepers Arms
4. The Royal Park Hotel
5. The Leveson Hotel
6. The Three Crowns Hotel
7. The Town Hall Hotel
8. The Court House Hotel
9. The Limerick Castle Hotel
10. The Albion Hotel
11. The Redback Brewery
12. The Village Idiot
13. The Bedford Hotel
14. The Public Bar
15. The Royal Standard Hotel
16. The Hotel Spencer
17. The Maitz Hotel
18. McMahon's Hotel
19. The Railway Hotel
20. Hotel Oz

This was the intended order, those of you who look at dates will notice a couple were out of order because they were closed on first inspection. Such is our dedication that we went back to them later, and a good thing too.

The Hall of Shame:

Victoria Hotel (corner of Victoria and Peel Street) - no meals
Central Club Hotel (corner of Victoria and O'Connell Street) - lunch only

Not every pub serves meals, though every pub should. Suprisingly though, only two never have an evening dinner, and only one (a dodgy back-packers) not at all. With maybe one exception they all sell chicken parmas too.

The Awards

Best Meal
The quality of meals is pretty fine in North Melbourne and a few really stand-out. The Spencer, the Bedford and the Leveson are all outstanding, but there can only be one winner; and that is the Metropolitan $12 Tuesday steak. Not that big, but seriously good.

Best Parma
Some people might say this is the key criteria, but I didn't have a parma everywhere, so I can't judge impartially. A friend of mine says that a good parma is easy, but a great one is hard. He is right; only one really stood out and that was the Leveson. The bartender talked it up, and he wasn't wrong.

Best Deal
Mondays and Tuesdays are full of good deals. The Bedford and Castle deals on those days are the best for over-all quality although the Spencer and Maitz both come close. But for shear value-for-money, day in, day out, the ridiculously large Albion $10 Parma and Pot is unbeatable.

Most Traditional
Yeah, anyone can renovate a pub, but where do you buy the old guys on stools? The Limerick Castle was the rowdiest by far, the Town Hall the cosiest but the winner has to be the Railway. Long bar and plenty of chatty patrons settling in.

Best Interiors
The Courthouse impressed me, as did the Railway, and the Metropolitan. The Village Idiot is the most lavish looking, but I can't go past the Town Hall. Religious pictures in one room, album covers in another, and some great graffiti in the dunnies.

Best Beer Garden
A contest with very few entries. The Town Hall is nice but the Bedford lays the rest to waste. Big, nice trees to shade under, plenty of space, plenty of sun, and somewhere that is very hard to leave on a summer afternoon (trust me).

Friendliest Staff
Tough call. Not many pubs survive long with pricks behind the bar, but a few go the extra mile. The Keepers Arms is good, the Public Bar likewise, and the staff at the Royal Park would have chatted our ear off had we let them. But for that touch of home, the Royal Standard was the go. Such a pity they don't serve evening meals every night of the week.

Best Night Out
By which I mean, for students and other drunks. The Town Hall has bands and a great atmosphere, and the Redback goes off on occasion. The Bedford give the sense that it will be good, but I haven't checked it out, and having watched Australia qualify for a World Cup at the Keeper Arms I would be remiss to not mention that. But if you are looking for a late one, then the latest of the late, and the grungiest of the grungy is without question the Public Bar.

Best Pub
Subjective as this award is, I'll still give it. If the above is any guide then you can see that two stand out above the rest. The Bedford is one, for the great meals, nice beer garden and cruisy atmosphere. But for mind, the best pub in North Melbourne is the one most people would probably think of if they gave the question much mind themselves. For its cozy interiors, great menu (if slow kitchen), entertainment variety and diverse patronage, the winner is The Town Hall Hotel
The Castle HotelThe Metropolitan HotelThe Keepers ArmsThe Royal Park HotelThe Leveson HotelThe Three Crowns HotelThe Town Hall HotelThe Courthouse HotelThe Limerick Castle HotelThe Albion HotelThe Redback HotelThe Village IdiotThe Bedford HotelThe Public BarThe Royal Standard HotelThe Hotel SpencerThe Maitz HotelMcMahonThe Railway HotelHotel Oz

Melbourne Town 19th March, 2006 23:14:15   [#] 


Cool review
I really like your review. However I have a problem remembering which pub is which. I think we need to add a photo to each one. I will try to do this.
BridgeGirl  20th March, 2006 10:53:27  

I have changed the route map to be cliackable, if that helps. I will get the photos I am missing right now too. It is not a long walk after all.
Russ  20th March, 2006 18:31:57  

Clickable map
The clickable map is terrific - I remember all the ones I have been to now!
BridgeGirl  21st March, 2006 08:06:36  

The Gastronomic Pub Crawl of North Melbourne
great post -- and must agree with praise for both the town hall and the metro - for the differing reasons you mentioned. Shame you couldn't involve prudence round the corner on Vic Pde...
adam  27th March, 2006 14:30:46  

The Gastronomic Pub Crawl of North Melbourne
thanks Adam. I decided to limit the trip to just pubs; there was enough of them as it was! Perhaps one day I'll do a bar and cafe crawl as well. There are quite a few places I haven't checked out.
Russ  27th March, 2006 18:15:30