There aren't many pubs in Melbourne that feel like a proper British pub. Even those that declare themselves British – the Elephant and Wheelbarrow, for example, or the several in the Bridie O'Reilly's chain – have a certain element of theatricality to them, like they're the set in a cheesy TV series. Judging by the closure of Pugg Mahones in Carlton, they're not particularly secure in their positions.
I fervently hope that the Sherlock Holmes is here to stay.
The flags waving out the front are the first sign of this pub. Set in a basement in the unpopular end of Collins Street, the pub is something you only find if you're looking for it. A lantern declares that this address – 415 Collins Street – is really 221b Baker.
Trip down the stairs to the wooden doorway with stained glass window, then into a series of rooms closeted by wooden panelling and brick. There are plenty of nooks here to facilitate a quiet pint. And pints there are – genuine British labels such as Hobgoblin snuggle up to Carlton Draught on the taps.
The Sherlock Holmes has been here a long time, and you can tell by the settled-in feel of the place. The wood has been worn down by the tramp of many feet. It may be for this reason that its Britishness doesn't feel like a gimmick. There's a genuine feeling of community here, worn in with the bums that have perched on the stools over the years.
Did I mention that they serve Hobgoblin? For anyone with a longing for the shores of Old Blightey, the fact that you can obtain a pint of this boutique beer is a minor miracle. Sure, it's not like the microbrewery hand-pumped stuff of dreams, but it's a satisfactory stop-gap.