The Wood Samaritan
Time Out says
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Canadian camaraderie and clamato juice warm the soul at this cosy neighbourhood bar
The Wood Samaritan is loosely Canadian log-cabin themed, with vintage skis, a full-sized canoe and pictures of Yukon landscapes hanging from the wood-panelled walls. But to say this is a themed bar would be an injustice. Despite the poutine and Bloody Caesar on the menu, this is first and foremost a neighbourhood joint – not a cheesy concept bar – and a good one to boot.
The staff are lovely and welcoming; popping out from behind the bar to say hi to a couple of neighbourhood doggos, happy to explain the craft-leaning beers to a befuddled punter, and even chatting politely to a rookie sales rep who interrupts service to ply his wares. This is the kind of bar where you’re a welcome stranger on your first visit, a regular on the second, and a friend by the third. There are cheap tacos on Tuesdays, and the happy hour runs 4-7 on weeknights.
As well as a short but solid list of craft beers – almost exclusively local – there are simple but fun twists on classic cocktails like a Smoked Jalapeño Margarita, a Maple and Peach Sour and a PB&J Negroni made with peanut butter-washed bourbon and strawberry jam-infused vermouth. It’s delicious and way more subtle than it sounds, the bitterness of the Campari still working its magic, but it could stand a little less dilution. The Bloody Caesar (the Canadian version of the Bloody Mary made with a combination of tomato and clam juices) is on point too, overflowing with pickles and rimmed in spices.
A to-the-point list of bar snacks includes vegan jalapeño poppers – whole jalapeños stuffed with creamy black bean paste instead of cheese, breaded and fried. They still pack the same satisfying combination of textures and flavours as the cheesy kind and don’t feel at all like a disappointing substitute. The wings are properly crisp and doused in Frank’s hot sauce with a choice of blue cheese or ranch for dipping, just as it should be. Real poutine – the classic Canadian snack of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy – is almost impossible to find in Australia. Here, staff make their own curds to achieve authenticity, and the dish is salty, squeaky fun (although let down a little by stock-powdery gravy).
The parable of the good Samaritan is about one man helping another in need, despite their differences, and you don’t need to be Canadian to feel the full warmth of this little bar. So if you’re feeling lost and lonely on the road to Brunswick, stop by. The Wood Samaritan is here for you.
140 Lygon Street
|Opening hours:||Tue-Thu 3–11pm; Fri 3pm-1am; Sat 2pm-1am; Sun 2-11pm|