MELBOURNE | I was invited to check out the newly reopened Sarah Sands Hotel last week. Being a Brunswick local who has seen the site shuttered down as the renovations and associated apartments have been constructed over the past few years, I was definitely keen on checking out the revamp.
The pub originally opened as the Sarah Sands Hotel back in 1854, and has gone through many guises over the years. Most recently, before it closed down, it was Irish pub Bridie O’Reillys. The new owner is Australian Venue Co, who own multiple bar and pubs across Australia, most of which are in Victoria. So then, tempered excitement about the revamp with thoughts of gentrification and a cookie cutter formula also in my mind.
So, what’s the reality. Well the fit out is nice. Tidy, modern, and yes it does feel like a venue that’s been given the big pub group treatment. But… I’m actually a fan of several of Australian Venue Co’s venues because they tend to offer flexibility to the formula to give their spaces their own identity. In this case, a mural local artist Loretta Lizzio, and the preserved heritage features of the space.
When it comes to food, head chef Telina Menzies has been given the brief to put her spin on pub classics, nostalgic and approachable favourites with modern twists. It’s the kind of menu that I want from a venue like this, and both of my tests of a new pub, the chicken parma and the steak, pass here with flying colours.
Drinks wise, it’s approachable mostly Aussie wines, spirits, cocktails, and macro and craft beers from the Asahi/Kirin portfolio on tap, with independent craft cans in the fridges. Again, exactly what I expect from a venue like this, and that’s no bad thing.
I have been saying for years that the area needs a venue like this. We’ve got the small bars, the grungy and excellent pubs, but nothing really like this. A bit formulaic, a bit clean cut, but a venue that knows what it’s trying to do and does it well. The place was packed with a diverse crowd when I visited, so it seems I’m not the only one who’s happy with the end result. I’ll definitely be back to the Sarah Sands. Maybe for a good old fashioned trivia night.
Sarah Sands Hotel
29 Sydney Road
Sun – Thu: 12:00pm to 11:00pm
Fri – Sat: 12:00pm to 12:00am