The Rose Hotel has always been a locals’ pub serving chips, parmas and burgers with a side of footy tipping. It’s never been upmarket and has never tried to be, but with the recent opening of the upstairs – that used to simply house the overspill on Friday nights – the Rose Hotel stands to be a different kind of local.
The upper level has been cleaned up with dark-stained floorboards, white walls, a corner bar, a lounge, terrace and a marble-framed fireplace. It’s not geared towards the sports-watchers, chilling out to a game while spilling pints over the table tops in excitement: the Rose Upstairs is for someone looking to invest in a boutique beer, a cocktail, a bottle of wine and a meal. If you get the feeling that the crew here have come from fine-dining backgrounds, it’s because they have. Marcus Radny put together the wine list after his four-year station as a sommelier at Vue de Monde and is offering some interesting, great value wines. It is clearly his list, and he is proud of it.
What other pub would list Portugal’s Vadio Bairrada Baga, Metrat Beaujolais and Kracher Chardonnay by the glass, along with a rosé made specifically for the venue by Gilles Lapalus of Sutton Grange? Mark-ups are fair considering the wines have not been cellared, meaning they have been purchased aged, but are still affordable, such as the Craiglee Shiraz from 1990 at $145 a bottle. Depending on your tastes, wines are under $20 a glass, with local drops starting at $9.
Beers from the tap are all Australian, as are most of the bottles, but they’re carefully chosen to cover all tastes – from a Feral Hop IPA from WA to the refreshing Coldstream Czech Pilsner – rather than appear as a rollcall of new hipster brands. We’re impressed. The cocktail list is short and sweet: Bellinis, Fizzes, Margaritas, Sazeracs and Flips – our Gin Fizz was made with consideration for balance, texture and appropriate glassware, which is more than we can say for most of the venues in the area.
The food comes from a separate kitchen to the pub, offering house-made bread and butter while serving oysters with a habanero mignonette, seared scallops on deboned chicken wings sitting on a kohlrabi puree with a jus gras and eschalot tarts with delice and olives. Larger dishes see modern pairings of pork and vanilla parsnip puree; venison, cocoa and blueberries; and wagyu and coffee, which are each executed with restraint and success, hovering from the $30-$40 mark, which looks expensive, but they’re generous in size and good for sharing.
Crowds ascending from downstairs and are met with a pleasant shock, though the staff won’t turn their noses up to serving anyone in a tracksuit. With the clean and understated renovation, elevated offering of a studied wine list and a fine dining menu, the Rose Upstairs may not be the Rose as you know it, but sings just as sweet.