CITY CIRCLE TRAM PUB TOUR

On September 17, 2012, in CBD, Docklands, by Jonno

All Aboard – It’s Free!!!

City circle tram – free pub crawl!

Our business is reliant on the sale of our app for the iPhone, which many will know, will guide you to almost every pub and bar in Melbourne’s CBD, Docklands and Southbank. We think we have em all, but, hey even we can miss one or two! Every now and again it’s great to share some of our in- depth research with our followers. So this month we have pulled together a great little tour around the city with 4 great pubs / bars for you to visit and some interesting things to look at on the way. When the sun is out and the mercury rises above 20 degrees, what better way to pass an afternoon, than by wandering the streets of Melbourne?

 

Great Pubs and a Free Tram Ride

Firstly, we must point out that being drunk on the tram is not acceptable – so take it easy!

The city circle tram does bog laps (as my other half would say) around Melbourne CBD every day between 8am and 6pm. It’s a great way to see the city and get familiar with where you are and where everything is. It is also a great way to explore some of Melbourne’s interesting bars and attractions. The great thing is – it’s free!

This great little tour takes you to the four edges of Melbourne, starting in the north and ending in the west. As its using the tram you can go in any order you like, but we think the order we have selected fits an afternoon session rather nicely.

Head to Flagstaff, where a very short walk will get you the The Mint. Located in an old house, this is a bit of a posh sort of place, but the al-fresco area is nice and secluded and over looks a great historic building. The food here is pretty good too as we often come here for a burger and a beer to discuss business when in Melbourne. Having a good feed is always a good way to start a session we find.

 

Jump back on the tram and head to Parliament. Well, it was many years ago when Melbournians thought they ruled the country (some in Collingwood still think they do!).  True to political form, the pollies egos became too big and they needed their own state, Canberra. On the bright side, it’s handy for porn and drugs we hear (never been there). My favourite quote on Canberra is from Bill Bryson. Canberra – slightly better than breaking a leg.

 

Siglo rooftop barThere are a few options in the Parliament area, so we have 2 choices. For those wanting to have a “posh” drink, it is hard to go past Siglo. Their rooftop area is gorgeous overlooking the street tree canopy with hints of the Parliament building popping through. It’s table service here and the wine list makes it worth it. If a pub is more your thing, then the Cricketers in the Windsor hotel will satisfy that thirst for a beer. This bar has become quite famous in Melbourne, not sure why as it really is nothing special. It has recently been refurbished, but it’s really just a different colour.

 

Back on the circle route, head down to Federation Square. This place was so controversial when it was built. The architecture upset lots of people, but I reckon it was a bold and impressive decision not to develop this area in a normal office box layout. The sandstone paving is fabulous and every time we are here it’s normally packed. So a good indication that a lot of people like it! There are two great options here, actually there are more than that but we are losing the point! For a “posh” drink head to Transit, the rooftop bar in the Transport building. Great views over the river out to Albert Park and the city. Want something more beery, well delve deep into the heart of Federation Square to Beer Deluxe. It has everything the label suggests!!!!

It’s hard to leave Federation Square, but our final destination is down in Docklands by the water. The Woolshed pub is a converted warehouse and has a great selection of beers, wines and even some fancy cocktails. The staff were really good here when we visited and being off the CBD circuit I think that they get a more regular office crowd. And friendliness is what we love in our pubs!

 

Enjoy this tour and please don’t get trashed and upset the tram driver, you’ll spoil it for every one. We reckon a pint in each bar is more than enough, before you settle in at the Woolshed.

 

 

 

Explore Melbourne’s Historic Lanes and Bars

Melbourne is a very historic city as far as history goes for cities in Australia. Thankfully it’s history is actually celebrated and much of the fabulous architecture that made Melbourne a capital city has been retained. A walk around Melbourne can be a great day out for people who love cities and old buildings.  Because of this old architectural way of creating space and dealing with what was required, Melbourne has some elegantly planted wide streets and fantastic lane ways shadowed by marvellous warehouses. It is in these great hidden lanes that Melbournians and visitors alike can explore and find some great cafes and bars.

Hardware Lane

Starting at the bottom of Hardware Lane, by McDonalds and the car park you will find the excellent Campari. This is a great venue with a nice cafe style restaurant on the ground level, a venue-cum-function room in the middle and a superb rooftop bar nestled in between the high rise offices of the CBD. This is one of the bars I head to when heading into Melbourne CBD as it offers so much variety and I must confess to have a a liking for roof top bars!

 

A little further up the lane over Little Bourke Street, you’ll be immersed in restaurants and spruickers plying for trade. Technically this “spruicking” is illegal under the Melbourne by-laws, but this makes it less intense and a more friendly approach to tempt you to one of their tables. It is what makes Melbourne a great city in which to eat. Generations of migrant families have worked these streets and this is how they have always worked. Think of it more as a tradition (and one that is fiercely protected up in Lygon Sreet). For those looking for a quieter, more intimate drinking experience, there are two bars located in the restaurants.  Amigos downstairs is very intimate and has that club feel to it. Next door you will find Charleys, a first floor level bar and again a nice intimate bar. Both these places are great for a romantic date or a quieter evening.

 

For those looking for something that little more noisy, at the end of Hardware Lane is the  Golden Monkey. A subterranean bar with some great sounds to help you party the night away.

 

 

Further along, once you cross over Lonsdale Street, you’ll come across Pug Mohones, a great Irish pub hidden from passer by on the busy Melbourne Streets. This is a nice place to hang with a pint of the famous black stuff. Located in an old warehouse, this pub gives you a bit of a feel for old Melbourne.

 

As always, the best way to find all these great bars is to download Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars.

Will the real James Squire Please Stand Up?

On August 20, 2012, in CBD, by Jonno

 

The James Squire brewhouse

The James Squire Brewhouse is known all over Australia and there is probably not a major town without one (Canberra doesn’t count as far as we are concerned). But there is something strange about the James Squire Brewhouuse in Melbourne. There are two and it is alleged that they have nothing in common! Customers to the Portland Hotel on Exhibition Street will recognise the James Squire signature and branding about the place. You may also notice the beer vats in the corner which brew a local drop only sold in the Portland Hotel.

 Where is the James Squire Brewhouse?

 

The beer taps reflect the standard James Squire range in the Portland Hotel, so anyone would think that is was just a James Squire Brewhouse. Catch a tram down to Docklands where a new James Squire Brewhouse has been built.  This James Squire Brewhouse looks nothing like the Portland Hotel, but is a modern tavern with some rather splendid water views. The tavern itself is nothing special with common pub style furniture in a commercial shell that could have been a supermarket. But on a warm summers night, there are not too many better places to be sipping a cold beer, than overlooking Docklands harbour. Although as nice as the location is, during the day Docklands is quite dead and uninviting. It’s a pity really as Docklands is an area that should be buzzing, not dying.

 

The other James Squire

So back to the Portland Hotel that resembles a more traditional English style pub, with stripped wood floors and a more intimate atmosphere. Oh and home brewed beer, which on my visit was the called “Craic”. Located close to the centre of the CBD, the Portland Hotel is a good pub to meet with friends. Its easy to find in Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars.

 

There has been a lot of press coverage  about the soaring cost of a pint of beer in Perth WA. It is standard now to pay $10 for a pint of premium beer such as Little Creatures or Fat Yak. The east coast press has jumped on this and branded everyone in the west as rich. Publicans in Sydney has been on the telly stating that there is no way people over in the east would pay those sorts of prices.

Are West Australians the richest in Australia? 

So I was rather surprised in the Carlton Hotel in Melbourne to be asked for two more dollars to my twenty dollar bill I proffered in payment of two pints of Fat Yak. Yes that is $11 for a pint of beer. No longer is the east a place of cheap beer, unless you travel north a bit to Asia, then there is plenty of cheap beer! But it is nice to see that people on the east coast of Australia are obviously as rich as people in the west coast.

On a world stage, Australia is perhaps becoming the most expensive place to buy beer. And it’s not helped by the soaring Australian dollar. Browsing the web, Studentbeans suggests the 10 most expensive countries for a beer are:

  1. Greenland £7.35
  2. Norway £6.78
  3. Qatar £6.00
  4. Djibouti £5.47
  5. Singapore £5.04
  6. United Arab Emirates £5.02
  7. France £5.00
  8. Sweden £5.00
  9. United_Arab_Emirates £4.86
  10. Guadeloupe £4.80

$11 is currently £7.44, making Australia top of the list!

You can find the Carlton Hotel in Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars app for iPhone along with 250 other pubs and bars.

 

 

Melbourne Skyline

Another rainy Melbourne day!

Sharing a cold beer or nice wine with mates on a warm Melbourne summer afternoon is one of our favourite past times. Especially if you can get an outdoor bar, and extra special if it is on the river. We have visited all the 250 or so bars and pubs in Melbourne CBD, Docklands and South Bank and here are three of the best for relaxing on the Yarra, drinking outdoors.

 

To find these bars and many more easily, download our Melbourne Pubs & Bars iPhone app – walk around Melbourne CBD and be guided not only by our reviews, but also which venues people have “Liked” the most. In our app when you visit a bar you can tick you “Like” it, and that you have visited it too – so when next looking for a bar you haven’t been to you can see them on your iPhone quickly.

 

Transit Lounge

Transit in Federation Square

Cool views over Melbourne CBD

A hidden Melbourne rooftop bar, you will find this gem above Taxi restaurant – which itself is above Transport, on Swanston Street in the corner of Federation Square touching Princes Bridge. The bar isn’t very big, but with the rooftop area added in you can fit in a good crew here if you are looking to impress out-of-town mates. With gorgeous chesterfield chairs and couches this bar has been decked out tastefully.

 

See more on Transit.

 

 

 

Riverland

Image of Riverland their website

On the river and great on a warm balmy night

A very popular bar on a sunny day, this Melbourne riverside bar has a lot of outdoor space. Perfect for Pimms in a cool summer breeze, pretend you are in London (or atop Madame Brussels – another of our favourite, and quirky Melbourne bars).

 

After a large sporting event at the MCG, Rod Laver Arena or ??? this bar is usually packed, as it is the closest “cool” bar to these grounds. So check for major events before trying to sample this top Melbourne bar.

See more on Riverland.

 

Ponyfish Island

Ponyfish Island

The closest you can get to the Yarra without a boat!

We’re saving the best til last. In such an innocuous spot, this brilliant little bar is on the Yarra underneath the pedestrian footbridge from Flinders Street Station to South Bank. About halfway across the bridge from the Flinders Street Station side, look to your right for some stairs and wander down. You will see a unique bar literally on the Yarra River.

 

In summer this bar rocks on, the music is funky and it can often get crowded by late afternoon on the weekend – so get in early and perch yourself with a drink overlooking the river and Melbourne skyline.

 

See more about Ponyfish Island on Facebook.

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is an annual event that draws a few tourists into the CBD. And why not, it’s a great day out in Melbourne and something that you could take the kids to. But it is not just about food and wine. This year saw the return of the temporary bar called Broadsheet. As we mentioned in a previous blog, the location of the bar was kept as a virtual secret, probably more due to finding a venue, than anything underhand.

Great days out in Melbourne and things to do

Broadsheet bar in Melbourne

Too late for a quick beer - again!

Troy and I did our research and tracked down this ellusive bar, but realised when we arrived that is was about to close. We had a chat with the bouncer outside, a nice young man who was happy to tell us all we wanted to know.

The bar did not look like something that you would travel across town for and it certainly would not pull you out of the Carlton Hotel, around the corner. But it was different and was often operated by owners of local bars who would add there certain “Je ne sais quoi” to the bar. We thought this was a great concept and sort of regretted imbibing a whole heap of beer down the road (Troy certainly did the next day!).

Too much fun in Melbourne pubs and bars

I should perhaps point out that we were late as we had spent the evening chatting with the owner of the Lustre Bar just down to road. What was planned as a quick “Hello” turned into an amusing night which both Troy and I rather enjoyed. Lustre Bar is a great place to hang out with friends. We like the relaxed atmosphere and opulent décor.

Sitting in large couches our host amused us with interesting stories of his career. Interestingly our host was a bit of an expert at making Vodka, which got us thinking that the selection of Vodka at Lustre Bar is probably quite good. We have no idea as by this time I couldn’t quite focus that far. I am sure our host will email me and put me right on that.

What make Lustre Bar special?

Our host had a simple philosophy regarding the beers that he served in the bar – if they are in Dan Murphy’s they wont be in here! We like that. But that is not to say that Dan Murphy’s sell rubbish beer, quite the contrary. But why go to a bar to drink something you can get it in the bottleshop? It was about this point that our host treated us to a rather nice beer called Prickly Moses. A very nice drop brewed down on the Victorian coast.

But our host did raise an important issue that night, the street art outside Lustre Bar. The artist rocked up last week to change the mural to something new, as the original work had been there for a while. We feel that the new artwork is not a patch on the old artwork. Let us know your vote!

Rate Lustre Bar Street Art

New art at Lustre Bar

The New Street Art

Street Art outside Lustre Bar

The Old Artwork

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make your voice heard at the Lustre Bar Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/LustreBar

 

1000 pond bend

Check out the delights behind the steel doors

One of my much-loved hang outs when in Melbourne is Thousand Pound Bend, at 361 Little Lonsdale Street. I used to think it was 1000 Pound Blend, as they are a café by day and cool bar at night. But Jonno corrected me – it is Bend, not Blend. Apart from the free wifi in Melbourne CBD, the large open spaces and cool music this café turned bar has a good vibe about it. Excellent coffee by day and a hip crowd adorning the bar at night.

 

Thousand Pound Bend is one of our favourite CBD bars in our Melbourne Pubs & Bars iPhone app, download it now. And, judging by the number of people marking it as “I like this venue” we are not the only Melbourne pub and bar goers who gravitate to it.

 

Close to Melbourne Central, this Melbourne café/bar is an old warehouse – hence the main area having a lot of room. Walk through the main area and you walk into a vast, open warehouse space. In here I have seen art exhibitions, break dancing competitions and even some comedy as part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Versatile little bar indeed.

 

interior of 1000 pound bend

Great coffee, breakfast and beer in the arvo!

Chairs and tables are old school – some literally looking like they are from a country school house! You could easily walk past this Melbourne bar. While it is not tucked away on an old cobbled backstreet, the façade is very much warehouse in an industrial part of Melbourne CBD. Even with the limited breakfast menu we have found the fodder for brekkie or brunch not too bad for a CBD café.

 

The only downside is the smoker’s room which looks out onto Little Lonsdale Street often does not have the door to the main café/bar area properly closed, so smokes drifts in and can damage your experience. Nothing a door spring wouldn’t fix!

 

If you are looking for a cool Melbourne bar to park yourself for a few hours with a laptop on your own (the free wifi has worked pretty well the 4-5 times I have tried it), or are in with the current Melbourne youth scene, the Thousand Pound Bend bar is for you.  If you are on your own and want to do some work, and are sensitive to a bit of noise, be sure to pack your headphones as they can crank up the tunes – especially late afternoon as the coffee drinkers slowly get replaced by seasoned Melbourne bar drinkers.

 

little lonsdale st Melbourne

A friendly request!

Easily find this and other great bars in our Melbourne Pubs & Bars iPhone app.

 

Best Cocktails in melbourneLike most blokes I am a bit of a beer drinker. On a warm afternoon after a hard days graft a cool beer always goes down a treat and manages to hit that spot that neither wine or spirits can quench. But that is not to say that I will only drink beer. I like wine and every now and again I am quite partial to a cocktail.

 

Who is making the best cocktails in Melbourne?

Cocktails are often considered as an older persons drink or only drunk on a 1930s theme night, but this image is changing. No longer is the cocktail the domain of the exclusive hotel bar, where waiters sneer at your average shoes and jeans are just not allowed. All over Melbourne bars are offering more than just bottled beers and spirits with a splash of bar mixer softies. No, the cocktail has come of age and there are some serious purveyors of mixed spirits.

Bar Americano – Melbourne’s best cocktail bar?

During my travels researching Melbourne’s 250 odd pubs and bars for the Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars iPhone app, I wandered in to Bar Americano. Well, truth be told it was a hard hunt to find this rather wonderful little bar hidden down an alley, away from general view. Upon my arrival the bartender was busy mixing up cocktails for clients perched on the stools at the bar. I watched in awe as his passion for making cocktails became evident with the care and expertise he showed. A twist of orange peel over the glass to give that hint of aroma completed his amazing creation.

Amazing cocktails made with passion

Bar Americano

Cocktails with passion - A Melbourne experience

Amid oowhhs and ahhs from the receivers of those wonderful concoctions, I started to chat with the bartender. But he was distracted in a bit of a concerned way. Begging my pardon he asked his customer if he liked the cocktail, to which the man replied that “it was not what I was after”. The bartender offered to replace the drink, to the reluctance of the customer.

“I want you to be happy with your drink” came the barman’s reply.

After a few minutes of asking what the man liked and disliked, the bartender got to work and in no time another creation was placed in front of the customer. Once his customer was happy, he returned to me for a chat. I was astounded; service like that so rarely happens and was enjoyable to watch. It is this passion that makes Bar Americano that something special. It is an intimate and friendly place with excellent customer service. It is a truly special place and worth seeing out when in Melbourne.

And yes, it will be a lot easier to find using the Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars iPhone app - along with the dozens of other bars that focus or specialise on cocktails.

The next two weeks will have food, wine and indeed beer lovers salivating in Melbourne. The Melbourne food and wine festival graces the city once again and this year they have a handy app for the iPhone (Melbourne Food and Wine Festival App) telling you where all the events are. However, what it does not tell you is where the temporary bar called Broadsheet will be – it just refers you to the website. Sadly, as a temporary bar, it is not in Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars either, although over 200 other bars in Melbourne CBD are, so you won’t go thirsty!

 

Broadsheet Bar is not in the Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars iPhone app

 

Sherlock Holmes shadow

I know Watson, lets go to the pub!

So where is this elusive bar you may ask? Well donning my Sherlock Holmes deerstalker I head off in search, well OK I admit that I went to the web page to get its location. So I can now tell you that Broadsheet Bars is located at The Broadsheet Bar 234 Flinders Lane, Melbourne and is open from 4pm to 1am every day of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. We will of course put a review of the bar on to our website when we get into Melbourne next week (as international beer research keeps us out of Melbourne at the moment and yes, it is a hard job!)

Great Bars are easy to find, with the Best Melbourne Pub and Bars iPhone app

There are some great events happening all over the CBD and I was keen to check out the foodie movies being shown in Federation Square. As they say, “pull up a deckchair and enjoy a food related film”. Whilst that sounds pretty awesome, the event only runs to the 9th, so a short time in which to enjoy this unique event. But if you miss it, why not catch a movie at the rooftop cinema on the top of Curtin House, their season runs to about the 26th March. But not to worry if you are late as they open as a bar after the movies and have some sensational views over the rooftops of Melbourne. You can find this bar easily (and over 200 more) by downloading Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars onto your iPhone.

There is a huge buzz in Melbourne over the next few weeks with this year’s Melbourne Food and Wine festival kicking off on 2nd March through until 21st March. This annual event attracts huge numbers of tourists into the CBD and why not, when it showcases some of the best products in Victoria.

 

The best food the best bars

 

After you have spent the day perusing the wares of the merchants to Melbourne, what better way to kick off the night with a refreshing Gin and Tonic in one of Melbourne’s Best Bars and Pubs? A great choice would be Madame Brussels located at the Paris end of Burke Street. This rather gorgeous bar can be a little hard to find as it is a rooftop bar. This is where the Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars app for iPhone comes in so handy. With a picture showing the exterior of the bar and Google / static maps you will easily find this and all the other 240+ bars and pubs in Melbourne.

Madame Brussels in the Paris end of Melbourne

Just one of the many bars in Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars iPhone app

Madame Brussels is an eclectic place set on the third floor with interesting street top views. But don’t come here for the glimpses of Melbourne rooftops, you come here to enjoy the fabulous ambience. The bar is decorated with a hint of French provincial with a hint of Wimbledon. Even the bars staff sport tennis wear to give that certain “je me sais quoi” to the place.

 

Forget Wimbledon, visit Madame Brussels!

 

Once refreshed there are so many rooftop and cocktails bars to choose from, or even a local pub. One of our favourites is the Portland Hotel on Russell Street, also known as the James Squire Brewhouse, but not to be confused with the James Squire Brewhouse in Docklands (a great waterside pub in Docklands). What makes this bar special? Well they brew their own beer right there on the premises and it is only available there. A unique pub with a unique beer and not a bad drop too! Although for true beer lovers it’s pretty hard to get past the splendidLittle Creatures Brewery on Brunswick Street, although that is a bit of a trek over to Fitzroy (but very worth the tram ride I reckon – although Western Australians will be a little disappointed as the Little Creatures Brewery in Fremantle is probably one of the best pubs in the world).

 

How to find Melbourne’s best pubs and bars

 

So no matter what sort of evening’s entertainment you are seeking, Melbourne CBD probably has something right up your street. If you are looking for a cocktail bar, wine bar, pub or club, then Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars app for iPhone is just the app you need. Over 240 venues are listed in the CBD, Docklands and Southbank.