As a celebration/reward for a long hard day of renovation, I went to the Northcote Social Club, sat at the front bar and ordered a hamburger and a rather good cheap glass of shiraz. Within an hour or so, I was talking to a couple of people I’d never met before, watching a great band I’d never heard of, and a little later dragged along to a party in North Fitzroy which was thankfully not a pyramid selling or evangelical type gathering. At around three, I was back at the NSC for one last drink and nearly got convinced by some rather drunk types that the Tankerville Arms was a great place to continue conversation.

But while I was waiting for my hamburger to arrive, having no clues as to what a stellar night it was going to be, I wrote the following on my pda.

The long front bar of a good pub which serves local beers and counter meals is one of the things I most love about Melbourne and Australia in general. In a great pub, there’ll be regulars at the bar, people around the pool table, the crowd will be a good mix of people who are *not* there to drink cocktails and dont put too much effort in dressing up. Especially, a great pub has patrons who know what the bar is for, who generally prefer to sit there and are in general quite open to having a yarn with strangers.

A great pub will also have reasonably good wine by the glass and a surprisingly good menu with staples at the $10 mark for those people who really want to keep drinking but were brought up to understand that a liquid diet is insufficient in itself. It understands that grease and salt is an important food group and hence has hot chips on the menu.

So, my favourite pubs in Melbourne in no particular order happen to be the NSC in Northcote, the Napier (although the front bar isnt quite as friendly) in Fitzroy, the Curry Family Hotel in Collingwood, the Standard in Collingwood again, the Rose in Fitzroy and the Retreat Hotel and the Cornish Arms in Brunswick. There are others like the Tote, the Espy and the Corner but I tend not to go there as much.

Rather essentially, a great pub has none of that fancy beer which requires its own special four jet cleaning gadget, glass, coaster and secret handshake and does not (barring the Dan O’Connell maybe) have an Irish theme to it.

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