Since its dramatic overhaul in mid 2009, the maritime-themed Grace Darling has become one of the most consistently busy pubs on Smith Street. What was once a sad little place with the ambience of an outer-suburbs RSL is now a hipster paradise with a band room, vintage fairs, rock trivia and a youthful, creative vibe. Ironic moustaches and Zooey Deschanel-alikes abound, and the revitalised bar with its custom wallpaper, stained glass windows and bare wood floors is as pretty as the patrons. Cosying up to a pint near one of the fireplaces, it’s hard to believe the Grace Darling hasn’t always been so atmospheric. Indie music predominates downstairs, and the band room hosts an eclectic roster of artists several nights a week.
The drink selection is especially as far as beers go (on tap there’s Cooper’s Pale and Premium; Tiger; White Rabbit; Sapporo; Trumer Pils and Mountain Goat), and there’s plenty of non-liquid sustenance available to go with it. The bar and adjoining restaurant serve the same menu, the latter in a slightly more formal setting with friendly and attentive table service. It’s fairly light on vegetarian options, but there’s enough there to get by on – the vegetarian antipasto is generously sized and the specials board is worth a look if you’re feeling a bit hard done by. Carnivores can look forward to the Sunday roast, served in hefty cast-iron pots, and the scotch fillet with Jerusalem artichokes, walnuts and lemon thyme dressing also comes highly recommended. The Grace Darling is well on its way to becoming a Melbourne institution. Charge your glasses and wish her a long, safe voyage.
If it’s a pair of vintage Italian leather mules you’re after then head to Hello Sailor Vintage Fair and toast your new purchases when you’re done. Each stallholder has to meet tough criteria before being handpicked by the Hello Sailor crew for their expertise and knowledge of vintage fashion. The clothes cater to Collingwood hipsters (minus the hefty price tag) while the stylish sellers provide service with a smile - sans attitude. Last weekend of the month; 12 noon-5pm.