The Alderman

The Alderman

Cocktails and wine served up in a cosy, dark-panelled bar with a fireplace and a leafy courtyard.

The Alderman is the kind of local bar that everyone should have just around the corner.

There is a lot of talk about Brunswick being the new Fitzroy, and if you draw a long enough bow you might just see it.

Both Brunswick and the more Carlton-esque East Brunswick have seen a rash of groovy new bars, restaurants and cafes appear on and off their main drags over the past few years, and several pubs in the neighbourhood have become hotbeds of live music. So, sure, there are similarities with old Fitzroy (or old Brunswick Street, anyway), but Brunswick has always had a distinct and original house style.

The Alderman, a brand spanking bar that looks like it has been there with barstaff pulling beers on Lygon Street's north end for decades, is a very Brunswick kind of place. For starters, the name is partly a dig at local government, with whom owner Lisa Young fought long and hard just to open her bar. Also, The Alderman has moved into a building that functioned as "a kind of hippie squat" for 10 years, was renovated by Young and her son using recycled materials salvaged from the Preston tip, and is partially inspired by the old Greek men's cafes that are dotted around the neighbourhood. It is a low-key, stylish and humorous place that could not have been created by any other suburb.

The front bar of The Alderman is a nice mix of bar and pub. Wood-panelled walls, a red concrete floor, cushioned wooden benches, bar stools (with well-placed footrests) around the bar and in the front window, and an etched glass door all give the place a feeling of longevity and familiarity. There is some interesting art on the walls and shelves, interspersed with a collection of old trophies and pictures of sexy girls draped over the hoods of sports cars.

Down a small hallway is a lounge room with some well-sprung, non-dilapidated retro couches and, beyond that, a pleasant little beer garden that has "summer night booze-a-thon" written all over it.

The drinks list suits the compact nature of the bar, with one beer on tap (Becks, $3.50 a pot), an adequate and interesting range by the bottle including Asahi ($6), a short list of Australian wines and a list of good-quality premium spirits such as Grey Goose vodka ($7) to complement basics such as Stolichnaya ($5.50). If you ask for a tricky cocktail you may find yourself behind the bar showing the staff how its done, but stick to the classics and they'll manage.

Bar snacks consist of nuts, chips and Twisties, but you can order a Turkish pizza from The Alderman's happening neighbour, Rumi, if you need something more.

The Alderman is the kind of local bar that everyone should have just around the corner, whether they live in old, new or post-Fitzroy. It's a modest gem, but a gem nonetheless.

Review | Michael Harden, reviewer
November 28, 2006

134 Lygon St,  Brunswick East Victoria 3057 | View Map New Window
New Window Telephone: (03) 9380 9003

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