Last month saw the grand re-opening of much-loved High Street stalwart the Northcote Social Club with a bit of a facelift, a beefed up band room and a new menu from incoming chef Martin De Korte, formerly of Yarra Valley outfit Brownkorte’s Restaurant.
Northcote Social Club managing director Andrew Mansfield took over the joint back in 2004, “when it was a beautiful old man’s pub, and when I say ‘beautiful,’ I really mean ‘knocked around.’”
Just over ten years on, Mansfield says it’s about time the old girl had another sprucing up.
“People’s expectations have changed over that decade and it just felt like the right time to address some of the ongoing niggles and look at ways to improve to take us into the next ten years.”
Brunswick-based team Breathe Architecture came on board to tease out natural features, including exposed brick and timber beams, as well as improve the flow of the spaces, from the front bar, to the band room, to the deck.
“It’s a good mix of the history of where we’ve come from and a bit of a springboard to the future,” Mansfield says. “I don’t like leaning on cold concrete. I understand it’s a bit of a trend, but for me, the experience of going to the pub shouldn’t be about cold, it should be warm. Breathe understood the necessity to blend the old and new.”
As the vertically challenged among us would attest, pubs generally do not offer the best view when it comes to live music. Mansfield is pleased to announce that he has addressed this issue and his wife has finally got her way when it comes to sightlines during gigs.
“I’m 6’5, so I don’t notice it, but as my wife likes to remind me, for many years, when we were younger and she’d be out a bit more regularly, I had a little wooden box tucked aside I’d drag out for her to stand on. She’s short as you like and would spend most of the shows looking at some bloke’s shoulder blades.”
To that end, they’ve installed bleachers so the diminutive now have a much better view of the newly raised stage. The deck has also been treated to a bigger bar, perfect for when Melbourne finally thaws out and the beer garden crowd returns in full force.
De Korte’s menu embraces the share plate craze, featuring smaller dishes like chilli salt squid with green paw paw salad, slow-cooked pork belly, jalapeno poppers with chipotle mayo, as well as crispy fried chicken ribs in cayenne hot pepper sauce.
The burger selection has also been expanded, taking in a rare roo fillet option with wattleseed mayo, onion jam and beetroot, as well as a soft shell crab offering.
As a self-described foodie, Mansfield felt obliged to do food well, but those with more traditional pub fare tastes will not be left wanting for a chicken parma.
“Oh god, you’d never do it. You’d get hung, drawn and quartered.
“I’m a very pub-driven person and I don’t want it to be a fancy bar; that’s not what we are. We’re a pub and live music venue first and foremost, even though we’ve put a lot of work into the dining experience.”
Mansfield says he’s looking forward to at least another ten years at the Northcote Social Club.
“We’re still rapped to be here. We’re very fortunate and proud to be embraced by the Northcote locals.”
The Northcote Social Club kitchen is open daily. For the location, opening hours, and all the details find Northcote Social Club on The Directory.
Image credit: Nick West for The Urban List