Justine de Jonge is a Melbourne freelance travel writer and blogger who loves travelling the vegan road. She also loves blogging about her vegan travels at www.fireandtea.com .
Published July 28th 2012
Lunch and pints at The Tramway Hotel in Fitzroy North
Established in 1873, The Tramway Hotel has kept quiet company among Melbourne's many historic pubs and is situated at a crossroads at Rae Street and St Georges Road South in Fitzroy North. Set back in this leafy alcove that's landmarked by a five-way roundabout, The Tramway Hotel is a peaceful and subdued watering hole. Revived in early 2011 by Chris Crouch (of Polyester Records fame), The Tramway Hotel is now batting as a major player in Melbourne's astute beer-drinking and pub meal-eating society.
Exterior walls are plastered with slate, a small-scale tram heads the proprietor's sign and a bright, red door leads the way to a bar that boasts a lengthy list of local beers; a true sign of dedication to its Melburnian and Australian roots. Walls are smeared in thick white paint for a clean, contemporary feel and the adjourning dining area, drenched in sunshine, is decked out in wooden furniture. A communal table constructed from sleepers takes centre stage, studded with heavy duty screws and a lazy, Sunday group that has set in for the day. A bespoke fireplace is stoked to keep this charming pub warm and toasty from the cooler backstreets outside and a narrow, open-air courtyard out the back waits patiently at idle for the warmer months and after-fivers to arrive. A bench nestling near the bar cradles street press, newspapers and a selection of board-games for those looking for some innocent afternoon fun.
The lunch menu, mounted to a clipboard, alerts hungry punters to a varied spread of choices including a decently sized and priced Burger Bar which doesn't forget their gluten intolerant, vegetarian or vegan guests. Those seeking a standout burger to partner their pint can try a quinoa, hummus and basil patty, elevating layers of cos lettuce, tomato and red onion, and dressed in thick lashings of creamy, almond mayonnaise, all encased in a multi-grain bun that's peppered with as many seeds as any burger enthusiast can think of. The burger itself is plentiful and vegan friendly, giving punters a burger challenge that will see them sitting for a while to devour this overly satisfying and delicious counter meal. The burger is paired with a side of light, crispy coleslaw blushed by purple cabbage and hand-cut chips, skin on, and sprinkled in rosemary salt, all costing only $16. Meatier options are also there, with the Pulled Pork sandwich, a permanent addition to the Burger Bar, garnering praise amongst Tramway's faithful. All burgers and sandwiches range from $16 to $18.
Punters can share choices with their mates like porcini mushroom croquettes and ham hock and pistachio terrine, varying from $7 to $9. Some who may insist a burger isn't enough can try a main like the risotto kiev or a hearty free-range chicken cacciatore. These lunchtime mains are priced between $20 and $24.
A casual crowd dots the dining room floor on this Sunday but it quickly fills and non-suspecting punters could possibly find themselves without a table if their timing is not right. Still, comfy barstools line the bar for added sitting room. While the demand for a table is imminent, punters are never made to feel they're squeezed out earlier than they're intending. Dulcet acoustic tunes over the PA, a half-drunk pint of ale and a clean plate are all signs that The Tramway Hotel's heritage charm is a must for any hungry, pub-going regular.