There was a time in Fitzroy when the men drank beer, the women drank beer, and Queenslanders weren’t allowed to play footy. The Rose Hotel is one of the few still hanging on to the good old days, surviving and thriving as a hold out of honest, old school pub awesomeness.
Fitzroy Lions posters adorn the walls, a regular’s copper stubby holder hangs ready behind the bar, and the kids’ books on the shelf hark back to a time when pubs were family joints; the winter alternative to a BBQ in the park. The front bar is packed on match days, but there’s plenty of space to avoid the sport if you choose, and a charming combination of older groups and hipster couples cohabitate here in a downright neighborly way.
No one’s turning their nose up at Carlton, but there’s Holgate and Stone & Wood for your craft-loving taste buds, too. There are packets of Twisties behind the bar (no Moroccan spiced soy crisps here, mate), and your Nan can always get a shandy with a smile. Counter meals are just what you’d expect – enormous parmas and roasts specials, all simple, cheap and satisfying.
Manager Juanita Finlay is one of Fitzroy’s most genuinely interesting characters. Don’t let her name fool you, she’s as Irish as a hangover, her mum just has a weird sense of humor. Her most recent mission is to build a serious whisky selection not often found in neighborhood pubs.
With their upstairs area recently transformed into a beautiful wine bar and restaurant with former Vue du Monde head sommelier Marcus Radney at the helm, The Rose is set to remain an institution for years more to come.
This is the real, indomitable Fitzroy. So next time you’re trudging the dampened back streets in search of solace, just follow the big Carlton sign down Napier St, and it will guide you home to The Rose.