Oh my god! Have you been to the Bridge Hotel lately? If you have to think about it, the answer is no, because it’s a smack to the eyes experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
The old Bridge used to be a local pub – just a no-nonsense, beers on tap and wines-for-the-ladies boozer. Nothing wrong with that, but unless it was next to your house or you got thirsty the precise moment you were passing outside, you wouldn’t have bothered telling someone from the next suburb about it. Today, we’re telling the world, because the old girl's had an extreme makeover that's turned it into a veritable palace of fun.
Perhaps they were weary of competing with the small alleyway bar scene, we don’t know, but last year the Sand Hill Road dudes (brothers Andy and Matt Mullins, Doug Maskiell, and Tom Birch) employed Justin Northrop and the architecture mavericks at TECHNE and sodding well built their own. What used to be a typical beery bar is now an indoor cobblestone laneway, off of which springs balconies, saloons and gardens. There’s Banksy-esque street art. There’s an American diner with checkered floors. There’s a garden replete with stuffed birds; a bathtub on the stage of the drum decorated music room and a full-sized cow statue hanging out the window. It’s like Main Street Disneyland crossed with your favourite pub – and we defy any adult to tell us that doesn’t excite the hell out of them.
But the kicker here, the thing that makes the razzle-dazzle of it all applause worthy rather than naff is the fact that it’s still a pub. You want a beer? Good. Cause that’s what everyone’s drinking, and it’s probably a Carlton Draught at $4 a pot. Sure, there are decent boutique beers like Moo Brew and Mountain Goat, and a sturdy selection of wines, but make no mistake: there are no fedoras behind this bar, and while they’ll happily make you a Negroni, you’ll be charged for it by the shot. Which will serve you right for being pretentious.
Want snacks? The same attitude applies to the menu. There may be the odd upgrade like bowls of chilli and garlic prawns in their own spicy oils adding a bit of ooh la la to the billing, but classics like dips, parmas, burgers and steaks are still front and centre. Tuesdays, we’re told, will always be $13 steak night. So when you’re done having your gob smacked by the décor, fill it with the hefty house burger that comes with the usual shirt staining gear (beetroot, egg, relish), and refuses to pretend that it is anything but a solid meat sandwich.
So run there. Immediately. Because everyone who’s already been is telling their friends and we’re telling anyone we can tackle.