An old-school rock’n’roll boozer turns the nostalgia up to 11
The Town Hall Hotel in North Melbourne is one of those brilliant little pubs that time has forgotten, left to marinate in nostalgia like a rockabilly grandparent. A touch on the shabby side, this is not the place for you if you like your pubs slick and shiny. But if you like a joint that's a bit rough around the edges and honest as the day is long, this little pub should be right up your alley.
The front bar is decorated entirely in old rock'n'roll memorabilia. Mirrors etched with images of Elvis, old guitars, and vinyl record covers clutter the walls. There are always a couple of old blokes up the front, sipping shakily on pots of Carlton and singing along to the classic rock on the stereo. Staff are friendly and helpful in that casual way you get when there's no stress to be had, and the beer is served with a smile. Taps are basic, but there's a couple of good craft options in the bottle like Mt Goat Hightail and 4 Pines Pale.
Through into the bistro, a little fireplace warms the area, the mantle scattered with tiny nativity scenes. Decorated like a 1970s living room with beaded curtains and a disco ball, it’s a trip down memory lane. Ten bucks gets you a pile of pork ribs drenched in salty-spicy-sweet sauce and a super-tasty Asian salad of thinly sliced veggies and cashews. It's almost a full meal, and a bargain considering what pork ribs cost these days. The Parma comes breaded to order, topped with thick-cut bacon and slathered in housemade Napoli full of fresh basil, all the elements in perfect balance.
Other highlights include housemade duck spring rolls and a beef cheek pie, as well as steaks, burgers, Asian salads and a kids’ menu. Walking in, you might expect the food to be a bit dire, but they really care about giving the community a good honest feed here and it remains popular with locals for just that reason.
The beer garden is small and lovely, crisscrossed in strings of hanging vines and fairy lights and shaded by three huge palm trees. Little individual gazebos border the space, each protected from rain by its own roof and warmed by its own little heater.
If Keith Richards had never made it big, and happened to live in Melbourne, you'd expect to find him here, propped at the bar with a fag and a Jack and Coke, singing along to ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ like he wrote it, living the dream.
|Venue name:||Town Hall Hotel, North Melbourne|
33 Errol St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Thu 4pm-1am; Fri-Sat noon-1am; Sun noon-11pm|