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FOOD & DRINK

The Best (and Cosiest) Bars and Pubs with Fireplaces in Melbourne

The weather is getting chilly, so warm up over fireside beers and bowls of cheesy pasta.
By Concrete Playground
May 11, 2021
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By Concrete Playground
May 11, 2021
  shares

THE BEST (AND COSIEST) BARS AND PUBS WITH FIREPLACES IN MELBOURNE

The weather is getting chilly, so warm up over fireside beers and bowls of cheesy pasta.

Nothing counteracts Melbourne's frigid winter weather like drinking a glass of red or a negroni by a roaring open fire. But most pubs — and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade — don't take too kindly to people lighting up their furniture, so you'll have to stick to drinking dens with built-in fireplaces.

These venues will let you fill your belly and defrost your toes by a fire — and help you avoid those pesky arson charges. There's a two-level wine bar, a speakeasy-style small bar, a historic courthouse and a microbrewery, all of which have at least one fireplace for you to settle in next to. Trust us, you'll happily get stuck in to avoid the trek home.

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    Neptune Food and Wine, as its name might suggest, has a lot of the latter. It also boasts a dedicated cocktail saloon and a ‘fireplace lounge’ down the back. To best reap its warmth, you can book out the six-seater fireside table — simply request when making your restaurant booking. If this prime position is taken, snuggle nearby next to the wine wall, or in one or the atrium-style booths. On chilly afternoons we recommend a big ol’ bowl of pasta — at the moment, the selection includes beef ragu rigatoni and a spanner crab spaghetti. Pair either option with a glass of wine and you have the ultimate winter warmer.

    Image: Parker Blain

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    Once a modest but respectable Italian eatery on Bay Street, Ciao Cielo stepped things up a notch when it updated its digs in 2018. The fine diner reopened in Port Melbourne’s historic courthouse, following a $1.5 million makeover to the 1860s building. Its soaring ceilings and heritage features are now offset by New York-style booth seating, striking marble bars and a lovely fireplace. Warm up while indulging in woodfired garlic focaccia, house-made bolognese ragu tagliatelle and Sardinian-style braised goat leg. Meanwhile, the adjoining bar is dishing up a more casual affair, set within a 150-seat Amalfi-inspired marquee covered in fairy lights.

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    The Post Office Hotel is a well-rounded gastropub experience, complete with a bandroom, large terrariums atop tables and an open fireplace that’s hot property when the weather’s chilly. The dining menu is well-priced and tasty, and includes everything from a beef tartare with rye crisps to a classic chicken parma and vegan cottage pie. Warm your cockles with a fireside shiraz or two, before catching one of the pub’s regular live gigs.

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    Those winter blues don’t stand a chance in the face of Richmond’s Union House, where you’ve got a choice of three different roaring fireplaces to cosy up beside. Two of these heat the open front bar and are perfectly situated in front of the footy screen, where you can also down a few schooies of craft beer and some bar snacks. You’ll find another fireplace in the dining room, where it works a treat alongside the kitchen’s menu of contemporary pub fare. Try the likes of the chestnut and taleggio risotto, or Wednesday’s long-running steak night special, offering a 250-gram porterhouse matched with chips and pepper sauce for $20.

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    CBD cocktail bar Trinket might be best known for its hidden basement den, located through the back of a secret wardrobe. But on a grim Melbourne night, you’ll also find plenty to love at street level. The intimate front bar is decked out with lots of elegant old-world charm and vintage furnishings. Pull up a pew in front of the open fireplace while you get acquainted with the crafty cocktail list, featuring sips like the Twisted Ballerina — a moody blend of rum (white and dark), pineapple and sherry. To eat, you’ll find a range of pizzas, share plates and sides, including crispy halloumi served with a blueberry and Four Pillars shiraz gin drizzle.

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    Any trip to this Fitzroy North gem is nothing but an absolute pleasure, but it’s at its best when its fireplace is roaring. Neighbourhood Wine is open six nights a week, so almost any chilly evening is the perfect time to pull up a perch at the bar for a bottle of wine and some gems from the ever-changing menu — think, duck rillette toasts with pickled zucchini, pan-fried albacore tuna matched with an eggplant romesco, and milk-cooked pork finished with sorrel and celeriac. Or, head in on Sundays for the famed roast lunch — for $55 you will receive a three-course feast.

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    The Grace Darling has been a staple of Smith Street for a long, long time — built in 1854, it’s thought to be the second oldest pub in the city. Regulars will have clocked plenty of hours knocking back drinks in the footpath beer garden out front. But, with the weather the way it is, we’d rather be indoors near one of the two blazing fires. The food is on the fancier side of classic pub fare, while the candlelit bar has a dozen local draught brews on tap. Add to that an atrium restaurant out back, plus two separate band rooms, and it’s clear why the Grace is still standing after all this time.

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    Comfortable, warm and friendly, with plenty of tasty food offerings and a variety of local beers, Tramway is just about the perfect pub to get away from the cold. Soft overhead lighting matches the pleasant glow of the fire as it smoulders quietly in the corner of the room. There’s a solid range of crafty tap brews and a forward-thinking wine list, along with burgers for vegans and carnivores alike, and snacking options that include an extra cheesy mac ‘n’ cheese. And since cosy pub sessions are made even better with a spot of live music, the Tramway’s serving up a stellar gig lineup, with tunes every Saturday and Sunday.

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    The recently revamped Carringbush Hotel now boasts a hefty central bar, a sprawling tap list of 22 craft beers and eight wines, and a much-celebrated, largely vegan food menu. But the corner pub’s three working fireplaces offer another huge drawcard when those frosty winter temperatures set in. Bunker down and bask in that warm glow, while tucking into meat-free dishes like the Thai barbecue tofu with sticky rice, a house-made porcini fettuccine or buffalo cauliflower served with a garlic chive aioli.

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    This St Kilda craft beer bar has winter charms in abundance, thanks to not one, but two great fireplaces. Upstairs, the cosy rooftop beer garden boasts its own outdoor log fire, while the front bar below has an all-weather indoor version, surrounded by comfy leather couches and a healthy dose of dark timber panelling. Pick a favourite and settle in with some well-executed pub grub, while getting acquainted with the expansive, award-winning beer offering. With over 400 different brews tapped here each year, you can make it a regular winter haunt and still get to sample new things every time you visit.

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    This new Richmond craft brewery is the kind of haunt that delights all year round, with a chic retrofuturistic fitout inside and a lush, foliage-filled beer garden zone out front. And this leafy streetside space is a cosy destination even in the deep of winter, boasting a huge central fireplace that’s perfect for curling up beside with a beer in hand. Nab a seat here among the fronds and stay warm watching the world go by; perhaps while enjoying a pint or two of Nice Guys’ rich, winter-friendly vanilla porter, made with whole Madagascan vanilla beans.

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Top image: Trinket

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