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.
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