The Sarah Sands Hotel, the long-dormant pub on the corner of roads Sydney and Brunswick, has finally reopened.
Welcoming people travelling from the city into Brunswick, the Sarah Sands was built in 1854 and named after a ship that was launched in 1846 from Liverpool (date inscribed on the hotel’s facade). It has seen many variations and makeovers over the years; once, it was even an ‘adult’ club, and we’ll leave it up to your imagination as to what that could mean. Renowned for always being a rough and ready drinking hole, you can still find some old heads around who fondly recall getting into a biff or two after a few pints there back in the day.
But now, after a multi-million-dollar renovation from new operators Australian Venue Co., the Sarah Sands might seem a bit anachronistic compared to the usual Brunswick pubs that we know and love. Maybe its location is appropriate, on the southern edge of our borough, as it wouldn’t feel out of place amongst the trendy southern suburb yo-pro pubs of Richmond or South Yarra.
Anachronistic design of a local icon. Source: Sarah Sands Hotel
Downstairs, you’ll be greeted with warm wood finishes and muted tones, with spots of lovely, exposed brick paying homage to the iconic building’s history. There’s a big bar and space for sitting and having after-work cocktails and an area to watch the footy as well as space for seated diners. The food, from executive chef Telina Menzies, is very affordable and of a very high quality. Particular standouts are the fried haloumi starter, finished with the inspired choice of fig to balance the age-old sweet and savoury battle, and the kingfish with fennel and jalapeno. There’s also more standard fare like pizzas and a Jack’s Creek wagyu bavette worth checking out.
Heading upstairs is easy for all, as there is an elevator installed, and once there you’ll find yourself in a large bar area, fully kitted-out to accommodate the 3AM license that the Sarah Sands is ready to take full advantage of. There’s an impressive graffiti mural from Loretta Lizzio (who did the silo piece of Jacinta Ardern next to the train tracks that many of you will be familiar with) along one of the walls and plenty of standing space, another bar, and more TVs set to Fox Sports. In a welcome touch, the smoking area has more of the exposed brick-look and some comfy-looking couches for those so inclined.
Loretta Lizzio’s grafitti mural at Sarah Sands Hotel. Source: Sarah Sands Hotel
The plan is obviously to attract those who may not be the type to call The Retreat or the Edi Castle their local pub, and we wish them the very best in their endeavour. The question remains whether it’s just a bit too clean-cut for us Brunswickians; but the prices are fair, and the beer is cold, and sometimes that’s all we need.