They have a real knack of getting the right people at the burners here. The restaurant-within-a-pub has boasted Darrell Felstead (he owns Foveaux Restaurant and Bar) John Evans (he made a tree change and runs the Berry Bakery), and now welcomes Lauren Murdoch. We’ve followed Murdoch since her days at Lotus, then Ash St Cellar and Felix. She’s an incredible cook with a real knack for restraint and a flair for rich, classical French bistro dishes.
So it's blowing a gale down Evans Street, so you can imagine our relief when we hit the restaurant and see a giant pie on the menu. It’s a French-style pithivier with short, buttery pastry baked until deeply golden and shining, filled with dense shreds of slow-braised lamb. All this is sitting in a pool of sautéed mushrooms and dark, sticky, glossy jus. You’ll want to cut the richness with a side of greens (on our visit it’s buttered broccoli florets, zucchini chunks and snow peas) or a salad.
Straightforward, hearty stuff is the call at Murdoch’s 3 Weeds. Big serves, too. A plate of broccolini (try an aged Semillon with this dish – magic) is all tangled up with dark, bitter cavolo nero and doused in plenty of brown butter and thin slices of gruyere. Buttery little croutons add crunch. We’d have liked a nice bit of sourdough to mop up the puddle of leftover melted butter and cheese – a not-particularly-amazing ciabatta roll doesn’t really cut it.
It’s surprising to see a fillet steak on the menu (it’s a dull cut of beef - you don’t even need teeth to chew, just firm gums) – and even more surprising when it comes topped with a showering of sweet potato crisps. It’s the kind of retro-fancy-pub-dish you’d expect to see anywhere but near a chef with Murdoch’s pedigree (she was sous chef at the legendary MG Garage under Janni Kyritsis). Nor would you expect the honeycomb ice cream to be icy rather than creamy. In its defense, it comes with a really exceptional hot chocolate sauce.
For some reason, someone’s playing a mix tape of Green Day, Genesis and Michael Jackson when we visit. A co-diner is of the opinion you shouldn’t be able to hear the lyrics of songs when you’re eating. Personally, we’re all for some Strokes or Johnny Cash in the right setting but hearing Mariah Carey’s warbling on ‘Fantasy’ in such a plush dining room is a little weird.
Still, the prices here are pretty reasonable ($18 entrees/$30 mains, as a rough guide) and there’s a sassy waitress on the floor who keeps things lively. Check it out once the new kitchen team has had some more time to settle in.
The 3 Weeds is a people pleaser. It was the first Rozelle pub to go seriously upmarket with a well-regarded restaurant, a wine bar popular with the local P&Cs and a beautiful, sandstone fireplace to curl up by in winter. But Rozelle has a proud working class history so they were also careful to leave the public bar to do what it does best: serve beers, show sport and host a curry night on Tuesdays. If you’re holing up here we recommend you do so with a glass of the 3 Weeds lager. It’s contract brewed by Monteiths in New Zealand and it tastes like the cleanest Carlton you’ve ever had. They also have Stigl, Coopers, Little Creatures, Guinness and White Rabbit on tap, and round in the back bar there is Franziskaner, Lord Nelson and Old Speckled Hen on the rotating taps. Although they have one of those frustrating systems where you have to order your counter meal in a separate place to your drinks, persevere and get the chicken pot pie. We are big fans of a pub pie here at Time Out and this one is high on our list of favourites. A piping-hot terracotta pot filled with tender, well-seasoned breast meat, peas and mushrooms in fragrant gravy comes with a floating pastry lid. It’ll warm you up faster than a snuggie filled with hot-water bottles. If you just want to snack on something salty and delicious while you do beer curls order the fried chilli-salt whitebait. Unlike their cephalopodic cousins who appear on every bar snack menu in the city, these little fried fish come in generous serves and deliver a gratifying crunch with each bite. The nice thing about the 3 Weeds is that while it may well be a fancy pub, you don’t need to be fancy to drink there.