A new deck out the back and improved kitchen give the kids at GB a reason to celebrate
The Great Britain is a pub aimed squarely at the young and alternative. Cheap beers and shots advertised at the bar let you know right away that no one’s sipping on fine wine like they do at the Royal Saxon up the road. The interior is dark and funky, featuring carpeted floors, pool, pinball and Big Buck Hunter in a room plastered with band posters and old couches in a little alcove overlooked by a huge praying mantis mural. Once home to pub Royalty Penny and Chris Hodges, the GB was taken over by the Open Door Pub group in late 2014 and took a turn for the cheap and cheerful as the Hodges graduated to classier surrounds at the Cherry Tree Hotel nearby.
But a closer look reveals more to the GB than $5 pints. They’ve recently done a complete overhaul of the kitchen and added a new covered deck to the beer garden, one of Melbourne’s greenest and now an even nicer place to while away a sunny afternoon. That new kitchen is doing good things, too. Grab yourself a Cuban sandwich – one of the most authentic in Melbourne – pressed thin and crisp with white cheese, slices of roast pork loin, ham and dill pickles. Dig the jalapeno poppers too, stuffed with cream cheese and lightly battered like the best American dive bars do, although the lurid raspberry sauce might be better on the side.
To wet your whistle, how about a milkshake with salted caramel and Bourbon topped with whipped cream from a can and garnished with pretzels? It’s not exactly an exercise in balance, but rather a childhood memory of milk-bar delight amped up with plenty of the aforementioned booze, and it’s awesome. These guys also care about good beer with one or two craft options on tap, more in the can and special events featuring the weird and wonderful like sour beers matched with croque monsieurs and live music. The GB always had a rep as a solid music venue, and while it’s not as integral as it once was, there’s still open mics on Wednesday and live music every Thursday. Other times you’ll hear ’90s alternative rock like Sublime and Radiohead pumping from the speakers.
Staff do an awesome zero-fucks-given. The attitude is cultivated as protection from the young and drunk, we’re sure, but once you get their attention they’re actually really friendly and full of personality. It feels natural and easy, and free of the snarky apathy found in all too many hipster pubs. And while most places where the average punter is uni age are basically sleazy nightclubs, the GB offers something different and does it well, proving that here at least, the kids are all right.
|Venue name:||Great Britain Hotel|
447 Church St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Thu 4pm-1am; Fri noon-3.30am; Sat 4pm-3.30am; Sun 4pm-1am|
|Transport:||Nearby stations: East Richmond|