This old neighbourhood watering hole went through something of an awkward adolescence, going from a crusty local joint to a Belgian Beer Café for a five-year continental break. But now it has been restored to a sensible old pub with a penchant for craft beer and it’s a look that suits it. The crowd here is made up of families, young professionals and well dressed older couples who look like they probably sail on weekends. They split themselves pretty evenly between the shady beer garden, dining room and the front bar where the heavy timber tables and fireplace have an old-fashioned, gentlemanly feel. They have Coopers and Carlton on tap if your old habits just won’t die, but we’ll be dropping our hard earned on tall frosty glasses of Trumer pils, Balmain pale ale and Feral Brewing’s Hop Hog instead. New beers can appear as often as weekly so you could be lucky enough to find the fresh, full-bodied Mountain Goat Fancy Pants amber ale on tap, or something equally as delicious. The kitchen treads a familiar, up market path with pizzas, parmas and pulled pork burgers, but to really get the most out of your dinner dollars head here on Wednesday nights when they offer half-price mussels pots. They come with a cream, tomato or Cajun sauce with sourdough for essential dipping. Balmain has more pubs than any one suburb needs, but for craft beers and cheerful barkeeps the East Village is the pick of the bunch.
East Village Hotel, Balmain
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