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The Sweetwater Inn

Written by on 23 April, 2013 in Bar Reviews - 2 Comments

 Say what you will about South Yarra, in what­ever tone you want. Whether or not its shiny vibes, designer threads and beau­ti­ful denizens are your scene or not, I’d assert that it’s about time some­thing new appeared around that end of Chapel Street. Some­thing that isn’t a pump­ing club, or a pub with a sleek, new fit-out full of reflec­tive sur­faces and des­per­ate gropes towards “ele­gance”. It was men­tal thun­der­ous applause then, that was going through my head upon arriv­ing at the Sweet­wa­ter Inn.

I’ll admit, it was dif­fi­cult to keep a grin from my face, such was my joy in see­ing some­thing so refresh­ingly inven­tive in South Yarra. Nay, in Mel­bourne in gen­eral. Some­thing that isn’t a “Prohibition-era speakeasy” or a “homage to New York-style cock­tail bars” or “some­thing else from the 1930s” — rejoice! The Sweet­wa­ter Inn is an excur­sion to the very oppo­site end of the spec­trum, find­ing inspi­ra­tion in what was really under all of our noses: old-school Australiana.

Inside the barn-like struc­ture, one finds brick walls decked out in ani­mal hides, cor­ru­gated iron, skulls, rusted wheels, and a beau­ti­ful 100-odd year old bar. The trio behind the Sweet­wa­ter, Mark Cats­burg, Guy Bent­ley and Benn Wood (all vet­er­ans of Melbourne’s bar scene) have gone all out in their quest for Aus­traliana, but have thank­fully done so in a way that never strays into the the realm of cheesy or OTT. It’s more Wake in Fright than Croc­o­dile Dundee, except with­out the bad vibes. Put it this way, it’s more badassery than cork hat.

Hell, even my com­pan­ion that night — who gen­er­ally buries all com­pli­ments under about ten lay­ers of irony — couldn’t help but let out a com­pletely sin­cere, “Dude! This place is fuck­ing rad!”

A look at the menu is sim­i­larly refreshing/interesting/tasty. We ordered a kan­ga­roo steak sand­wich, served with Mel­bourne Bit­ter braised onions (patri­otic!), and the “Chip Buttie with the Lot”, which is exactly as down-and-dirty and deli­cious as it sounds. Chips in a roll, with bacon, beet­root, an egg, and a whole lot of deli­cious mess. Not rec­om­mended if you’re on a date and want to look grace­ful while eat­ing. We’ve heard good things about the prawn skew­ers, but what can I say — when you want a chip buttie, you damn well want a chip buttie. The kan­ga­roo steak sand­wich was met with inde­ci­pher­able sounds of approval, and I obvi­ously didn’t get to taste any; a good sign.

I washed down my meal with a pint of the Sweet­wa­ter Lager, which seemed appro­pri­ate and proved to be pretty tasty. There’s a nice selec­tion of beers avail­able, as well as a bunch of old favourites — VB, Mel­bourne Bit­ter, etc — in cans (patri­otic!). We didn’t peruse the wine list prop­erly unfor­tu­nately, but we’ll blame that on our excite­ment and hunger and the fact that our food was immi­nent. My pal had the Billy Tea with his roo sand­wich, a cock­tail served in a can, that again caused him to give gen­uine praise, devoid of irony. I gave the Wild Scotch­man a whirl, which soon made me wish my pal and I had the time to work our way through the cock­tail (and shot) menu. But alas, we did not.

I tell you what though, I’d argue that the Sweet­wa­ter Inn is one of the bet­ter things to have hap­pened in and around Chapel Street/South Yarra/Southside in a long while. The staff are ami­able, and speak of their new water­ing hole with a for-real excite­ment. The food’s tasty and good value, the drinks are damn enjoy­able and thought­fully selected, and the ambi­ence is laid-back, with the req­ui­site amount of cool to attract north­ern­ers to the south. Frankly, it’s an excite­ment that’s war­ranted. Here’s a tin­nie raised to the Sweet­wa­ter Inn.

Sweet Water Inn
Address: 1/60 Bray St, South Yarra, VIC
Phone Num­ber: 0402 532 578

Sweetwater Inn on Urbanspoon

About the Author

Rebecca is a nerd from Melbourne, via Adelaide and South America. She goes by Reb, not Bec, and you can follow her on Twitter if you'd like. @RebNotBec

2 Comments on "The Sweetwater Inn"

  1. Greg 7 June, 2013 at 07:10 · Reply

    Hi ,

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