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Green Man's Arms Melbourne Vegetarian Pub

Green Man's Arms is a vegetarian revelation in Carlton and Melbourne's first vegetarian pub. The World Loves Melbourne was invited along with Adam Nichols from leading wine tour comapny Wine Compass to experience the menu and beverages. In recommending vegetarian places to eat in Melbourne Green Man's Arms would be the first on our lips.

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Davison Plum with Umeshu was a great summer drink to kick off our vegetarian soiree.

Green Man’s Arms turned one in November, and after a year of challenges with an untested concept, is flying high (it was packed on a weekday lunch). The pub is drawing plenty of local support as well as diners from all over Melbourne. We contend that even if you're not vegetarian it's a standout dining experience. Perfect for vegetarians but also those who want meat free days.

We were treated with top notch service from Margi and Isabella who deserve special mention. A joyful dining experience with joyful engaging service and brilliant wine matching with the food.

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Owners Fred Whitlock and Alison Whyte, continue to grow the Elgin Street pub’s community. Recently the husband-and-wife team employed chef Matt Binney as menu and kitchen consultant and sommelier Bronwyn Kabboord to update the drinks list and the collaboration is giving strength to this Carlton pub with no meat.

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Craft beer choices are top notch including this La Sirène Pale Ale.

Binney and Kabboord - both most recently worked at the now-closed Merricote in Northcote - have been instrumental in building on the pub’s food and wine culture that focusses on seasonality and provenance.

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New season tomatoes with whipped garlic, basil and olive was a rewarding seasonal dish. 

Fred Whitlock and Alison Whyte have 22 years experience owning pubs - the most recent was seven years of owning and operating the Yarra Valley Grand Hotel and Green Man’s Arms is their first vegetarian venue. “What we’re doing is risky,” says Alison, “but if we were going to do another pub we couldn’t, with any conscience, do what we were doing before, which was putting steaks and schnitzel on a plate without knowing where it came from.”

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Dominique Portet Rose is a favourite of the summer.

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Smokey Bean Salad featuring mixed beans, fermented tomato vinaigrette, crispy tortilla and sour cream. A delightful dish with fresh smokey and zesty flavours.

Fred Whitlock adds, “We’re uncomfortable about where the food industry is going and maybe this is an extreme response but this is where we’re up to in our evolution.”

The menu changes seasonally, and is proving to work for those who are choosing a more flexitarian approach to their diets with weekly meat-free days. The vegetable is the hero of each plate and is given the same respect and time as animal protein often receives. The eggplant schnitzel, for example, takes slices of eggplant that are marinated, braised and pressed, then panko-crumbed, fried and served with potato aioli and cabbage slaw.

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Eggplant schnitzel is a wonderful dish; eggplant being our favourite vegetable. Panko crumb adds a touch of class.

The World Loves Melbourne loves this approach. Make the vegetables the hero of the dish. We're uncomfortable with vegetarian restaurants that overdo the whole "mock" concept. Mock this and mock that - it's like they are trying to copy a meat experience whereas they should just concentrate on having vegetables as the hero. Enough of my rant.

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Smaller dishes at Green Man's Arms may include Mezze Plate, Cucumbers and Goats Curd or Slow-baked carrots with roasted hazelnuts and chervil.

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Caramelised pumpkin with vadouvan, mustard greens, pepitas, and fried curry leaves. Pumpkin was delicious and the combination with a curry sauce stunning.

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Burnley Brewing's finest pale ale a great local choice. 

Bigger dishes also include  Leek tart, finished with caramelised shallots, washed rind cheese and petit salad.

The drinks list, recently revamped by sommelier Bronwyn Kabboord has been given depth and is designed specifically around the plant-based menu.   “I love that Fred has embraced being a vegetarian venue, and wanted a list that suited the food, whilst still having something on the list to accomodate different palates,” says Kabboord. “Short and sharp was the brief, and I am always keen to showcase varietals people aren’t as familiar with, such as Roussanne and Jacques. The dishes we tasted called for wines with freshness, texture and acidity. The list is predominately white wine, with rose and lighter red wines.”

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Desserts were also first class with Lychees with Jasmine rice ice cream, coconut mousse and puffed rice, one of the dishes of the day, and the Strawberries and cream innovative dish.

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Kaboord says that choosing the red wines was probably the biggest challenge, and she and Fred fell for a Pinot d’Aunis from the Loire, “that was such a delightful match with a couple of Matt’s dishes that showed earthiness and umami.” There was also a focus on finding wines that were made with minimal intervention, that fit into the vegetarian brief and were made by people passionate about the land now and for the future.

As well as the wine list, there’s a changing selection of twelve Australian craft beers and ciders on tap and a list of stubbies and tinnies. The cocktail list is built on Australian spirits, vermouths and liqueurs. One year in and Green Man’s Arms continues to evolve and build its own community.

Trivia nights on a Tuesdays with trivia stalwart Sparx have a strong following and well-known DJ, Miz Rizk curates the vinyl-only DJ program from Thursday to Saturday nights.

A fivecourse Chef’s choice menu for $38/person is also proving popular. Fred Whitlock says, “For me it is about feeling good about what you eat and what you drink and creating a community around that. We want our customers to be happy, feel healthy and have fun.” Highly recommended.