As if the Gasometer weren't constant temptation enough, another watering hole battered and deep-fried in Americana has popped up near our abode. Michael spotted a review of the two-month-old Beaufort in Broadsheet and we met up for an early dinner that very night.
The menu is an economical single page, headed up by a range of burgers, following through to Buffulo wings and a tofu salad, then finishing with the small stuff - corn chips, corn cobs, slaw, chips, onion rings and deep-fried pickles.
Vegetarian options are marked and they even specify that the girlfriend burger (a chickpea and spinach patty with rocket and spicy mayo on a bun, $10) contains egg - this bodes well for vegans elsewhere on the menu! Gluten-free items aren't marked, but there are coeliac-friendly buns available on request.
Michael insisted that we sample those deep-fried pickles ($5) - the sour and watery subject is a nice contrast for the hot crisp batter, and they're great dippers for ranch dressing.
I reckon the leftover ranch was also the best dressing for my side of onion rings ($2.50 with a burger) - here the onion adds the faintest hint of savouriness and structure to a mass of batter.
We preferred ketchup with Michael's handcuts (also $2.50 when accompanied by a burger), which showed promise but were a bit underdone. His Veggie Sloppy Joe ($9) lived up to its name, spilling soy mince and jalapenos with every bite.
With the sides eaten I unwrapped my Philly Cheese Fake ($8), a white roll all steamed up with the heat of mushrooms, capsicum, onion and melted provolone. It's a stellar way to mock meat without mock-meat.
We liked the Beaufort's mixed drink list too - we're going through a bit of a ginger beer phase right now, and there's three ways to spike it here. At a different time of the week I might even stretch to one of the recommended stiff drinks.
The music's loud and the lights are low - the Beaufort is arguably more bar than pub. (We'll leave it to our pub club to fight that one out!) But there aren't many bars or pubs that do food this cheap and charming.
421 Rathdowne St, Carlton
veg food $4-10
Accessibility: The Beaufort has a single step on entry and notably spacious table arrangement - mostly at standard height and with few tables at tall bar height. The lighting's dim and the music is loud. Ordering and payment happens at a high bar, though food is brought to the table. We didn't visit the toilets.