If there was an image in your head of the perfect winter bar, with dark wood furniture, candle-lit tables, cosy nooks, an open fire and plenty of warming red wines on offer, you'd probably be thinking of The Alderman. It provides all of that wintry magic, and even offers the option to order some authentic and delicious Sicilian food from the ever-popular Bar Idda next door (you won't regret trying the arancino filled with cheese and mushrooms, I promise).
The space is incredibly homely — in fact, the room behind the main bar must have been a living room in a former life — and really does feel like you're sitting in a friend's home being offered a glass from their private wine collection before you settle in to a friendly game of Scrabble (or not so friendly, if you're as competitive as this writer). East Brunswick residents lean on this place whenever they need the comfort of an old friend, and it gives them exactly what they need.
There is a large courtyard out the back, decorated quaintly with fairy lights, that really comes to the fore in the warmer months, and surprisingly still gets fair attention on the dark, damp days.
As for the drinks, there are some craft beers by the bottle, and the standards on tap. The one-page wine list offers enough choice (including many local varieties) without being overwhelming, and the prices on everything are extremely reasonable (glasses of wine start at $7.50). It's a solid offering all around, without trying to be fancy or progressive, and that's kind of perfect.
Open since 2006, The Alderman feels like the East Brunswick of old; in a patch that really hasn't changed too much, owing mostly to the staying power of all the great businesses that surround it, including the aforementioned Bar Idda, Atticus Finch on the opposite side of the street, Middle Eastern delight Rumi and local stalwart Sugardough up the road. When the recent flux of new bars and cafes around Melbourne might be feeling a little 'same-same-but-kinda-different', The Alderman shows just what you can achieve when you dispense with pretense and fashion to favour comfort, charm and warmth instead. A local favourite in the truest sense.
Image courtesy of essjayspensa via Instagram.