They say you can’t keep a good man down, and critically-acclaimed Melbourne alt-country singer/songwriter Rich Webb is proof positive of that old adage, with new single Brunswick St arriving as his first piece of new music for 2023. Brunswick St arrives just a few months after the release of his latest album, RIGHT!, with the uplifting, driving track presenting itself as an equally powerful ode to the Melbourne street which bears its name.
Armed with lyrics as nostalgic as they are contemporary, and backed by an instrumental that is punchy and exciting, Brunswick St is something of a full circle moment for Rich as he pays tribute to the very same Fitzroy street that crafted and curated unforgettable memories in his early days in Melbourne, and has served as a warm homecoming with every return visit.
Rich has put together his Top 10 Brunswick St restaurants and bars, along with some of his favourite menu items for your next visit to this iconic Melbourne street!
My Top 10 Brunswick St restaurants and bars + Fave menu items
- Labour in Vain – let’s start with a bar because that’s the way evenings often do. Labour in Vain is a great place to meet up or just hang out solo. Lovely atmosphere and a marvellous place to see a band. Always tricky walking past this one if it’s open.
- Vegie Bar – there are 100s of great places to eat on the street, you really can’t go wrong. I’m putting the Vegie Bar up here because it’s probably the place I’ve been to the most over the years. The burgers and pizzas are all great but if you are looking for something with greens plus, try the Mostly Greens with tempeh and come out feeling healthier than when you went in.
- Near and Far – like any good street, things are always changing. This one’s a relatively new entrant and it’s like some of the bars that have opened up on Smith St. An enormous selection of brews including many on tap in a nice place to hang out and try them.
- Thai Thani – one of a good range of great Asian restaurants on the strip. Thai Thani has been here forever too and for good reason. The Thai Thani Green Curry is always worth a crack or the Pad Thai with prawns. Don’t forget to send your complements to the chef – Alex Harvey would.
- The Attic upstairs at Black Pearl – maybe you want something a bit fancy? A bit more sophisticated? Grab a second-hand suit from the marvellous Sacred Heart Mission Op Shop at the top of the drag and check out this place. Black Pearl is great downstairs and I also love it upstairs in The Attic. Both feel like you are on the film set of The Great Gatsby or something. The cocktails are knockout – I would go a classic Gin Martini or Negroni, or if I’m really up for a big night, an Old Fashioned.
- Black Cat – and if it’s all getting too much, you can always head to the uber bohemian Black Cat, another long-standing institution down this great drag. These places have hung around for a reason, and if the sun is shining through the big windows, grab a beer and plonk yourself down on a retro couch and watch the world go by, you’ll feel better for it.
- Marios – is the kind of place you can take anyone. It’s just good. Classic Italian charm, a great menu, great coffee and you don’t need to go any further than the house wines right here, or maybe a Peroni if you really want to get into the mood.
- The Newry – makes it into this list because when I first got to Melbourne I spent more time in this place than pretty much anywhere else. The song ‘The Last Rowdy Hour’ from my last album RIGHT! is loosely based on the goings on in the last hour of this fine establishment. Got a cracking pool table too and a big fire in winter. Maybe it’s time for a return visit.
- Bar Open – I used to hang in this joint a lot with a good mate of mine and it fits all seasons – from a fireplace in winter to a beer garden at the back when things warm up. I like it in the front bar and it has a broad and eclectic range of music happening upstairs most nights. Plus it opens late, long after most other places are shut.
- The Fitz – the following morning you’ll probably be looking for some breakfast. Marios is good for that as well but more often than not we end up at The Fitz, particularly during the summer as it’s got a load of great outdoor seating. I’d probably go the poached eggs and avo, but I can’t remember having anything here that wasn’t great. If you are out with the family, my kids demolish the waffles.