Food and Drink


Brunswick Mess Hall

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I was a big fan of Warwick Thai, the stoic Sydney Road restaurant famed for its huge servings and surly service. When it closed I was slightly put out and hoped a Priceline wouldn’t take its place.

My fears however were unfounded, as the Brunswick Mess Hall opened last night and all signs are promising.

The first thing I noticed was how massive the space really is, resembling something between a church and a beer hall (both holy spaces). One wall is covered in greenery, another with graph art. The roof resembles the upturned bow of ship, which is what head bartender Andy Emans says influenced the design.

“The Brunswick Mess Hall is like Noah’s Arc, but if the animals took over,” Emans tells me. Thanks to the clever chaps at CIP Creative there are references to the Arc all through the space – from Arc shipping plates and biblical verses sprayed on the walls to toy animals in cages (well, they’re really My Little Ponies). A bleeding deer head above the bar completes the scene.

But then there’s the drinks. In fact punch. Lots of punch. Emans and his team have come up with a range of punches served in 3.5 litre bowls. Emans reckons the punch bowl reflects the communal aspect of the place, and recommends the Lucky Panda Flower Punch (St Germain Elder flower, lime, orange and chilli topped up with prosecco. Could punch be the new Pims?

There’s also a quiet 50 boutique beers behind the bar, and a colourful list of ‘Peacocktails’ with stuff like Smoke, Blood and the Pomegranate and Ginger Fizz. All the cocktails come in a hefty tome called The Good Book (I’m beginning to wonder if Emans isn’t a lapsed Catholic) where he’s included the recipes of each drink so you can replicate it at home. What a nice bloke.

In the kitchen head chef Aaron Whitney (who used to cook at Julian Lennon’s restaurant in Majora, then Portello Rosso) has created an Asian-inspired menu of sharing plates with dishes like gyoza, sticky pork and paw paw salad. Each table comes with a menu and pencils where you write how much of each you want, just like yum-cha.

While Warwick Thai will be missed, I think the Brunswick Mess Hall is a worthy successor. Even better if you’re a lapsed Catholic.

400 Sydney Road, Brunswick
9388 0297
Wed – Sun 5pm to 1am

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