More than just the ‘local’, the East Brunswick Hotel has evolved into an intimate food and watering hole that fuses old-school grit with a new-age, boutique warmth.
After 150-years of slinging schooners and corralling people from far and wide together, the EBH is steeped in that unrivalled sense of ‘pub history’. While you won’t find the conventional hallmarks of a corner hotel here – there’s no ludicrously sticky floors or dingy bathrooms – you’ll notice a palpable feeling of community and homeliness as you enter through its staggering Victorian façade.
At the main floor’s core, there are stools dotting the perimeter of an industrial bar hewn from Mornington Pier wood. This main attraction is surrounded by a sea of sit-down tables and bordered by charming booth-style seats that soften the establishment around the edges. Seeing and smelling the arrival of steaming plates on your neighbour’s tabletop will force you to bypass small talk and instead begin poring over the lineup of delicious nosh.
The menu is heaving with comfort food, as it should be. You’ll start with a raft of ‘to share’ plates, like the haloumi with pine nut vinaigrette and the falafel sliders, before hastily moving onto a list of hearty mains. Yes, there’s your compulsory, mighty parma and lovingly-battered fish and chips, but the EBH rallies against the typical culinary confines of a well-oiled pub. Produce is locally-sourced and carefully curated. We opted for the spinach and ricotta ravioli, doused in a rollicking broccoli pesto and topped with creamy clouds of burrata, as well as the vegan-friendly offering of zucchini pappardelle, bejewelled with roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh olives.
Falling into a small sub-category completely separate from its fellow main serves, the EBH have touted their one pound meatball with potato mash and peas as ‘world famous’. The dish has acquired a cult following of hungry punters, and as we inch towards hibernation season, this feed is sure to be best-served with a pinot or a pint as you retreat for an evening of footy-viewing.
The wine and beer lists see a deluge of local Mornington Peninsula drops, as well as heroic pours hailing from McLaren Vale and Margret River. And if you’ve got a penchant for cocktails, there’s a new list set to arrive imminently, boasting a potent jug of blood orange-infused Aperol Spritz that is best shared among good conversation and great company.