The art of the deal never went out of fashion at the heritage pub where the business set converge
The oldest standing structure in Melbourne, a shingled pre-Victorian gingerbread house tucked down Bank Place in the CBD, is home to one of the city's best old-school pubs. Surrounded by big square canvas umbrellas giving shade to barrels and high bar tables, the Mitre looks as though some magical tornado has picked up a pub from the English countryside and deposited it incongruously amongst the steel and glass of Melbourne’s financial district.
Dating back to 1837, the heritage-listed pub (which began operating as such in 1868) has a long and fascinating history. Said to be a favourite haunt of Melbourne’s Bohemian set in the early 20th century, it’s also apparently haunted by the ghost of Connie Waugh, who once lived here as the mistress of Sir Rupert Clarke. The story goes that Ms Waugh hanged herself once Sir Rupert returned to his wife, and now treads these ancient boards waiting for her lost love to return. The scene of many a fancy dinner and sealed deal in the heady days when every business meal was fully deductible, it’s within these walls that many a bottle of Grange has disappeared down the gullets of Melbourne’s business elite.
So if you want to drink like the stock market crash of ‘87 never happened, this is the pub for you. Financial and legal district suits of a silver-haired variety pack this place nightly, swilling Stella and Heineken like the Commies are coming. Upstairs in the dining room, prime cuts are served by waiters in long aprons, with bottles of shiraz more ballsy than the Australian Open to accompany. Oh, to be pre-GFC and wearing a suit again.
But behind all the good-old-boy bum-slapping business, this is a pub that actually knows how to hustle. The seccies are polite, the staff are friendly and the beer lines clean as a whistle. They even have a rotating craft tap these days, offering tasty local brews like Hawkers pilsner. Those steaks upstairs are bloody well cooked, the service professional and the wine list extensive. And is that a barrel-aged bourbon old fashioned behind the bar? Yer darn tootin’ it is. Welcome to 2017. It's not served on hand-carved ice or anything, but it’s perfectly balanced, tastes like Christmas, and is better than about 99 per cent of all cocktails served in Melbourne pubs right now.
So next time you’re feeling like the wolf of Wall Street, strap on your pinstripes and head to the Mitre. It’ll make you feel like a million bucks. FS
|Venue name:||Mitre Tavern|
5 Bank Pl
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 11am-midnight; Sat noon-11pm; Sun noon-9.30pm|
|Transport:||Nearby stations: Flinders Street; Southern Cross|