Just Open: The North Melbourne Hotel

Expect good prices: The duck l'orange.
Expect good prices: The duck l'orange. Photo: Pat Scala

Publicans Sandra and Jose De Oliveira, of eclectic Bridge Road hotel Bouzy Rouge, have returned to North Melbourne almost 30 years after starting their first pub – the Sir Robert Peel Hotel on Queensberry Street – with the new North Melbourne Hotel on Victoria Street.

With the help of long­time friend and interior designer Jean Pierre Heuteau they've transformed the site from fish restaurant Rubira's (Port Melbourne outpost Rubira's @ Swallows is still operating) into a 100-­seat wine bar/pub in only six days.

There is no mistaking their delightfully over­-the-­top style – from the mirrored, mounted bull's heads to the concrete French garden furniture indoors – the couple certainly have a way with quirky decor.

The eclectic new dining room at  The North Melbourne Hotel.
The eclectic new dining room at The North Melbourne Hotel. Photo: Pat Scala

Head chef James Smyth has come over from Bouzy (after 12 years as head chef there) with a Mod­ mediterranean menu that's less Iberian than its Richmond counterpart; think duck l'orange, bourbon braised beef short­ribs and an impressive list of 10+ side dishes that are each almost a meal in themselves.

It might seem fancy but it's all at pub prices, including some bargain pots of North Melbourne Draught (we'd pay $4 for a beer) and an A3 selection of Italian, French and Portuguese plonk.

Open noon­-midnight Tue-Sat: 480 Victoria Street, North Melbourne, 03 9329 1634, northmelbournehotel.com.au