Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Penny Black

November 12, 2013

We recently stepped into The Penny Black for the first time, on the recommendation of reader Leah. Though we glimpsed the beer garden out back, it was a rainy night and we crammed into the front room with all their other patrons. It's a grungy live music-hosting pub, with dim lighting and speakers blaring even when there's no gig scheduled.

The menu's typical pub fare with gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and veg-optional items helpfully marked throughout. The veg options are all under $17 and occasionally dive much lower - for example, large pizzas go for just $6 on Tuesdays.

The zucchini, fetta, mint and pea fritters ($8.90) weren't as fresh or nuanced as they sounded, crumbly balls of peas and what I took to be spinach (but might've actually been mint), improved enormously by a dab of the sumac labna.

We liked the vegan tacos ($9.90) more, rolled up with mushrooms, capsicum, corn salsa and a dairy-free dressing that Leah tells us is cashew cream.

The vegie burger ($16.90) was a sprawling hodge-podge of barely-bound pumpkin-lentil pattie, whole roasted mushrooms poised to slip out the side, roasted capsicum, rocket, vegannaise and (I think) hummus on a Turkish-style roll. I concentrated on the accompanying chunky chips, and ran out of puff long before the burger was done.

The Penny Black menu seemed a little hit and miss - I'd gladly eat those tacos again and the pizzas I spied at other tables looked pretty good, but the fritters and burger lacked a little lustre. The pub offered more consistency when it came to smiling staff and low prices, so we reckon they're worth a second chance.


The broke vego was disappointed by an undersized haloumi burger at The Penny Black last year. Otherwise, omnivorous bloggers have been positive but rarely effusive about this pub; see I talk too much my mouth hurts, Foodscrazy, Where's My Water?, Nick Riewoldt Put Some Clothes On and Parma Daze.

The Penny Black
420 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
9380 8667
veg meals $6-17

Accessibility: There's four steps up on entry, a wide door and then a relatively flat and spacious interior. There seem to be at least two sets of gendered toilets, most accessed by stairs but some at the main level. There was a sign for a unisex disability loo on the main level too. We ordered and paid at a high bar.

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