Bars, Pubs and Clubs » Melbourne

Read reviews of the best and worst bars, pubs and clubs Melbourne has to offer.

These range from the biggest dance venues to the most hidden away laneway bars.

Why do people like the Belgian Bier Cafe?

This post was written by Bruce Thurlow who’s normal prose cover the pages of The Black Keys Fan Lounge, The Adventures of Mr Dingleberry and Travel Generation. His opinion on the Belgian Bier Cafe on St Kilda Road rang ever so true with us all here at My Aching Head.

The other night at the Belgian Bier Cafe on St Kilda Road, someone asked: why do girls like yoga?

Not such an unusual question when drinking at a boys-only gathering whilst contemplating the meaning of life and drinking expensive imported beer.

There’s plenty more questions about girls with no definitive answer, I thought, without being drawn into the conversation. I had after all been stuck for minutes wondering why I was paying A$7.50 for a Leffe Brun (Dark). This sweet brown beer isn’t as popular as its Blonde brother, but it is my personal favourite. When I say ‘favourite’ I mean it’s my beer of choice on the rare occasions I venture to this so-called ‘Cafe’. So-called because I was sitting at a picnic table placed on an otherwise dusty-brown piece of dirt – average facilities masquerading as a classy establishment. Others weren’t so lucky having brought their own picnic blankets or camping out on a rare piece of grass.

Upon the table was a ‘tray of frites’ I had bought for A$7.50 and smothered in mayonnaise to be shared amongst friends. I’m not sure how regular fried chips taste any different simply because they are described in a foreign terminology and served in an un-common fashion. I would have been happy with a bowl of chips.

Before long someone bought a Duvel, 8.5% of alcohol, pure bottled fury. It was also marked at an angry price, AU$10.50. The bottle did look pretty cool though. I guess the guy who bought it was already pissed.

After a long conversation about Hong Kong martial arts movies and directors had petered out, I asked everyone at the table: why do people like this Belgian Bier Cafe? There was no answer. It was obviously just one more of those questions that has no definitive answer.

2009 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival – Good value events

Having just had a quick browse through the guide for this year’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival I must say I’m completely underwhelmed. The length (amount of events) and breadth (number of cuisines) are impressive but the majority of them seem to completely ignore the factor of cost. A quick perusal of the index of events at the back of the guide confirms my suspicion, out of about 300 events, only 26 are free, 50% are in the above $50-200 price range and  are in the over $200 range. Considering the economic climate and the “festival” status of this event is this a little over the top?

This being said, there are a number of events that look like they will be really good value that I will definitely be trying to get to.

7th – 23rd March – Restaurant Express ($35)

A huge number of restaurants in the city and surrounds are providing a 2 course lunch, a glass of wine and a coffee or tea for $35. This seems like it will be a really great way to experience a restaurant that you might not normally be able to afford to eat at, or if you would might be able to have a couple of extra lunches for the same price.

12 March – A spanish affair, Comme ($40)

An extravaganza of all things Spanish, flamenco, food, beer and cava will be the flavour of the night on Alfred Place. Hosted by the the renowned Comme Kitchen the evening should be a Spanish style party of the highest quality.

7th March – Meat & Malbec, The Montague Hotel ($25)

The Montague Hotel will play host to an exploration of beef and Malbec wine. The wine comes straight from South America and as any red blooded Argentinian will tell you, it’s a match made in heaven.

14 March – Section 8 Block Party ($25)

Tucked in behind Chinatown, Section 8 is an example of a laneway bar that is bigger than the laneway. The Block Party is slated to bring together everything that the bar stands for. Fine beer, great asian cuisine, DJs and hula girls – What more could you ask for for $25?

21st and 22nd March – Cellar Door at Southgate ($25)

This is will be like going to all of the state’s cellar doors all at once. There are a number of learning sessions and tours provided for free by the festival and a number of restaurants are providing cheap tasting plates. This is all capped off by the Melbourne International Jazz festival happening at the same time.

23 March – The Global Trends, The Langham ($40)

Certainly not for every food lover looking for a bargain but this short conference about the food and wine industry and its media will certainly pique the interest of any aspiring journalist or blogger. 3 sessions with various world class media personalities and chefs and drinks should certainly cover a lot of ground regarding the entire industry and it’s future.

Getting Loose in Melbourne

I just spent 10 days in Melbourne, the first few just getting acquainted with the town and the following just smacking up the town like never before. The occasion of course was Australian University Games, this is a week long event of hitting the piss hard, waking up, playing sport and hitting the piss hard again. Needless to say, things sometimes things get a little out of hand.

It became pretty clear to us pretty quickly that there are 2 completely opposite types of pubs in Melbourne, those that take themselves too seriously and those that absolutely don’t. I can’t remember all of the places but CQ and the Queensbridge Hotel were shit. Both of these places were the Uni games sanctioned social venues however they were being exclusive in who they were letting in, only dribbling people into the venue and on Thursday night telling them that it was too late and they had been drinking for days so they couldn’t come in – regardless of wether they were too drunk or not.

Then at the other end of the spectrum there were heaps of smaller places that were awesomely accommodating to a mob of drunk uni students. At the top of the list is “Bev and Mick’s bar” in North Melbourne. This place hosted the mixed netball boat races and even though they shut early than we had hoped they really didn’t give a shit about what went on. The number of glasses that were smashed by people standing on the bar, the number of pissed people painted green and the fact that there was 130 of us in a place designed to fit about 80 all went down without a shadow of complaint.

The other bar that get’s my vote for being accommodating is a little place called “The Red Violin.” We happened upon this place at 3am after being kicked out of the Traffic bar on Federation Square, (which was also happy to let things get loose) the security at the Red Violin were happy to let anything happen as long as it didn’t affect anyone else. At one stage a bouncer woke up a sleeping guy, not to kick him out for sleeping but ask him to take his feet off the table. This isn’t to mention the ridiculous drunkenness, stupid attire or people spitting in each other’s faces. This was all capped off at the end of the week, on Friday night when the dress code had clearly been raised (people wearing suits) and the doorman still let us in, cause we were “cool”.

Hats off to the Red Violin, Bev and Mick’s and everywhere else that made our week grand.