Classic North Melbourne corner pub is reborn as cosy local Bobbie Peels

The pub's original features, like pressed tin ceilings, have been highlighted, while the new menu is more contemporary ...
The pub's original features, like pressed tin ceilings, have been highlighted, while the new menu is more contemporary with an emphasis on house-made. Photo: Jake Roden

The old pub on the corner of Queensberry and Peel streets in North Melbourne has had a few lives over the years. In former years its been known as The Crimean, The Keeper's Arms and The Robert Peel. Now in the hands of two hospitality veterans, it's been reborn as Bobbie Peels, a cosy neighbourhood spot with hidden nooks, handmade pasta and a serious beer and wine list.

Phil Gijsbers and Neil Mills, both behind Small Print Pizza and several of their own ventures, stepped behind the bar five months ago to get a feel for what the venue needed.

Last week, they opened doors to the refreshed local with warm-toned tiles, velvet drapes, original pressed tin ceilings and bric-a-brac from the pub's 113 years of history. There's a picture of blues artist B.B. King, returned by a regular after rescuing it during a past renovation, and signs in Cyrillic from The Crimean Arms era.

Inside the nook, which is co-owner Phil Gijsbers' favourite seat.
Inside the nook, which is co-owner Phil Gijsbers' favourite seat. Photo: Jake Roden

Gijsbers' favourite seat is hidden in plain sight: an alcove around which the main bar was previously built.

"We were looking at the evolution of the pub and what it means in society now: they used to be the post office, accommodation, and so on," says Gijsbers. "Now some people see it as a place to dine, for some people it's just a place to get a drink. We need to be running at multi-speeds. But I find that exciting."

Spaghetti with lemon, squid and breadcrumbs.

Lemon spaghetti with squid and breadcrumbs. Photo: Jake Roden

House-made pasta, bread and butter are a point of pride. Orecchiette with pistachio pesto and squid and lemon spaghetti are complemented by daily specials driven by what chef Sean Manning finds at the Queen Victoria Market, five minutes away on foot.

Last week that was scotch fillet with caper butter, fennel and potatoes. There are also house-made chicken nuggets with "15 secret herbs and spices" and sticky pork ribs for pub traditionalists.

Bobbie Peels, a refreshed pub in North Melbourne from Phil Gijsbers and Neil Mills, with hidden nooks and crannies and house-made pasta.
Credit Jake Roden
For Good Food, 26 July, 2022

Bobbie Peels has warmed-toned tiles and an classic pub feel. Photo: JAKE RODEN

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Gijsbers and Mills are continuing the pub's association with craft beer. Eight beer taps pour Kaiju, Co-Conspirators and more; barrel-aged IPAs from North America are in the fridge.

Gijsbers' time in wine bars allowed him access to back vintages from By Farr, Cullen, Best's and more top wineries, including a 1995 Best's chardonnay, of which there's just one bottle. More everyday drinking comes from Glaetzer-Dixon, Brave New Wine and others. Mills' Mountain Distilling provides whisky and gin for barrel-aged cocktails.

Open Tues-Wed 4pm-late, Thurs-Sun noon-late

351 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne, 03 9329 3353, bobbiepeels.com.au