Caretaker’s Cottage might be Melbourne CBD’s smallest (and most charming) pub

Caretaker’s Cottage might be Melbourne CBD’s smallest (and most charming) pub

A tiny brick cottage owned by the Wesley Church in the CBD is now home to a public bar, Caretakers Cottage, created by the Fancy Free team.

Rob Lebicans, Ryan Noreiks and Matt Stirling, all former Black Pearl staff, say that the bar made up of just two small rooms and a hallway is their version of a pub you might find in a small English town. Guinness is one of three beers on tap, dogs are welcome and leaning on ledges is encouraged, and with a capacity of just 50, it’ll always feel cosy. 

“What else feels like this? A pub does,” says co-owner Matt Stirling.

A solid music set-up is another big focus of the team, who have all worked at Black Pearl in the past. Photo: Ryan Noreiks

The trio have transformed the 1914 building into a cosy space that balances dark paisley wallpaper with dove-grey French wash walls. 

“The colours and textures we’ve arrived at are so the venue looks its best at all times of the day,” says Stirling, adding that it’s designed for locals or anyone looking for a pub-like atmosphere in the middle of the city.

Nestled among a forest of glass towers on Little Lonsdale Street, Caretakers Cottage is hidden in plain sight, with an off-street entry within the church grounds. Beautiful timber joinery, greenstone-laid tables, artwork by Gloria Napangardi Gill and hand-finished speakers from Tasmanian company Pitt & Giblin all feature.

Melbourne Bitter longnecks, craft brews from local pals like Molly Rose and Hop Nation, and a frequently rotating tap beer join the Guinness, which is always pouring, and a line-up of seven, mostly classic wines.

The house martini is another mainstay, joining three classic cocktails and three contemporary drinks. Clarified milk punches are an obsession, another tribute to English pubs. Last week’s included Jameson’s whisky, lemon-earl grey tea and a raspberry vermouth.

Don Bocarte anchovies, smoked trout dip, Welsh rarebit and cheese by Melbourne chef and cheesemaker Lucy Whitlow provide drinking fodder.

Open Wed-Sat 4pm-1am

139-141 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne,

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