Old dogs, new tricks: Melbourne pubs reinvent themselves

Iain Ling (right) and Lachlan Cameron of the Hotel Lincoln, Carlton.
Iain Ling (right) and Lachlan Cameron of the Hotel Lincoln, Carlton. Photo: Supplied

The Rose Upstairs

The installation of a fine diner wine bar above Fitzroy's best-loved footy pub is old news (ex-Vue de Monde sommelier Marcus Radney has been serving fine wines with oysters for more than six months), but it's symbolic of the move by publicans to diversify in deference to a crowd who love their local, worship a parma and a pot, but sometimes want to sink some far finer liquor.

406 Napier Street, Fitzroy, 9417 3626

Marquis of Lorne

Re-opening last week with Will Benjamin (ex-Newmarket) and Callan Hitchens (ex-EDV) acting as frontmen, the all new Marquis has a charcuterie cabinet, taxidermy, a short, sharp menu of gussied up pub classics (including an 800-gram hanger steak for $55), and a rooftop garden rich with tubs of craft beer tinnies and Bloody Marys for Sunday sessions.

A venison dish at The Rose Upstairs, Fitzroy.
A venison dish at The Rose Upstairs, Fitzroy. Photo: Patrick Scala

411 George Street, Fitzroy, 9417 5001

Hats and Tats

Any minute now, Chris Stock and Jason Chan (the guy behind cafes Batch and Plenty of Windsor, and co-founder of West Winds Gin) will be bringing fine spirits, an all-can craft beer offering and fried chicken to the old Southern Cross Hotel in South Melbourne, renaming it Hats and Tats. The gritty old boozer has been painstakingly cleaned up, with a private function room and an Addams Family pinball machine added. They'll also be instilling a rigorously enforced casual policy and will be scissoring any ties they see past 10pm.

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78 Cecil Street, South Melbourne

The Lincoln Hotel

The fact that ex-MoVida and Brooks of Melbourne maitre'd Paul Guiney is working the floor says a lot. Chef Iain Ling and Lachlan Cameron are turning this Carlton local into a serious challenger to Andrew McConnell's Builders Arms, with a solid bistro menu, cocktails put together by Emma Ramos (ex-Le Bon Ton) and a wine list curated by Lachlan Barber of MoVida. It's early days but the steaks and duck liver parfaits are excellent.

91 Cardigan Street, Carlton, 9347 4666, hotellincoln.com.au

The Empress Hotel

Lucy David, the young protege of Rosa Mitchell (Rosa's Kitchen) who was pegged to open Rosa's Canteen later this year has left the group to help her brother do up the old Empress Hotel in Fitzroy North. The pair are planning on opening in mid-late January after they've ripped the roof off the band room to turn it into a beer courtyard, and put together an Italian-leaning pub menu (a few more pizzas and pastas than your normal pub menu) to appeal to a family crowd.

714 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy North. Opening mid-January.