So back in February I moved from my home town of Sydney to its major Australian rival, Melbourne. Brunswick became my hood, and pretty much the first thing I did (outside of jumping into a Masters course) was check out the local pubs. I had many reasons for doing so, ranging from the completely legitimate and practical (looking for work!) to the slightly more… indulgent. I am a writer. A writer without a glass of wine is like a doctor without a stethoscope, an air hostess without red lipstick, a producer without a gram of cocaine… I need somewhere to sit and think and formulate and, like… drink. Also, I like a drink. So began my search.
The first thing that struck me as I wandered up and down Sydney Road, with a bunch of resumes and a twinkle in my eye, was the attitude. Having over ten years experience in the hospitality industry, I do have certain expectations when I go to a bar. I know that your job can suck harder than a Dyson, but if I am a decent person who greets you with a smile, give me one back, even if it’s fake. Requirement #1 for a potential local: don’t be an asshole.
The second thing that I look at in a pub is the cost. Sometimes a girl/woman wants to gracefully sip on an endangered grape from a region so exclusive that it’s about to collapse in on itself; sometimes she just wants a house red. Truffle infused Dodo egg on a bed of quinoa garnished with edible gold leaf and served on a wooden board? Sure, whatever floats your boat. But in a pub? I need access to a burger and fries for less than $20. This is, of course, a gross exaggeration, but I do not think that I am completely out of line in suggesting that Sydney Road suffers from a moderate case of wank. Requirement #2: a wine and food list with decent prices.
Add to these things a great beer garden and soundtrack, and you have yourself a contender for a great local pub.
I started coming to The Brunswick Green on a regular basis because of its amazing beer garden. An array of benches and tables suitable for 2-10, covered or sunny, some hidden nooks and amazing heaters for cold times. For the non-masochistic non-smokers: big comfy couches and a fireplace inside.
Then I realised that I could get a glass of red wine for $6.50. The difference between $6.50 and $8.80 (or whatever) may not seem huge, but when you’re a student wanting more than 3 glasses of wine, dude, that’s a free glass!
Check out this antipasto plate:
Char-grilled vegetables (eggplant, mushrooms, capsicum) and semi-dried tomatoes, olives, salami, prosciutto, feta, dip (I always choose tzatziki) and bread – ALL THE THINGS!
In fact, nothing on their menu is over $15, and it’s a nice menu:
I have been down here quite a bit, writing articles, marking papers, thinking thoughts, and nine point eight times out of ten I have loved the background music. I hear blues, daggy 80s pop, rock’n’roll, funk… one of my highlights has been finishing up underneath a toasty heater at last-drinks and mentally dancing the tango. It’s classic, it’s eclectic, and it’s pretty much always on the ball.
But what has really made the difference, what has really made this place stand out and make me say “The Brunswick Green is officially my local”, are the personal touches. It started with the genuine hello and the realisation that they remembered me, which is a small thing to many, but huge to someone who is new in a city and doesn’t know too many people outside of a couple of friends and their housemates. “Hello, I know you, how are you?” – it means so much to me.
“A glass of the Shiraz?” – yes please!
“I’m pretty sure all of the heaters are on out the back, but I’ll come out with you and make sure” – wow, thank you!
To have the bar manager and the owner ask you for your name, and to remember it without fail every time you come in – how lovely. To be asked what you think of the mulled wine recipe and whether you can recommend improvements – amazing.
And on a personal level, when things in my life have become quite shitty, they have not only given me a genuinely sympathetic ear but have also actively tried to help me. I am currently looking to move house and one of my considerations is proximity to this pub. Think I’m being overly sentimental? I spoke to a young woman in the beer garden the other night who decided to move into the area after having visited The Brunswick Green.
In closing, it’s Tony the Tiger levels of grrrrrr-eat. If you’re visiting the area, new to the area, or simply haven’t been yet because, I dunno, maybe you have an aversion to the colour green (?) – check it out.
8.5/10… because I don’t want to come across as a total suck up, and they’re closed on Mondays (and it’s now Monday and I feel like a drink).