Bars and Nightclubs
Melbourne North, Melbourne

The Penny Black

420 Sydney Rd, Brunswick, VIC
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Nestled within the heart of Sydney Road in the old Brunswick GPO, The Penny Black aims to keep everyone happy – lazy afternoon sippers, fresh homestyle dinners, local bands, and a lazy weekend atmosphere.

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The Penny Black Photos

The Penny Black Review

Review By Jessica Hoadley

Housed in the old Brunswick Post Office on Sydney Road, The Penny Black has a comfortable front room filled with couches in the day and live bands on stage at night. It’s a beautiful Heritage-listed old building with lofty ceilings and fireplaces, but the real draw here is the beer garden: a huge expanse of picnic tables, couches and booths outside which fill up quickly on balmy summer afternoons. The space holds four hundred, one hundred under cover. There’s icy cold cider on tap and a delicious menu that will persuade you to stay past your dinnertime! Pizzas start at a tempting $6, and drink specials vary depending on the day.

Open from 3pm Mondays-Thursdays and from 12pm on Fridays-Sundays, the atmosphere at the Penny Black in the afternoon is lazy and chilled out, with the focus on food, jugs of beer, cider and Pimms to share, and ambient background music allowing for conversation. As it darkens however, the volume levels rise and the standing room in the beer garden fills up with an arty Fitzroy crowd. The patrons vary from Uni students in local share-houses to early thirties young professionals wearing jeans, sandals, sundresses; whatever the mood desires. When winter approaches the outside space is still popular as it provides tall gas heaters for groups to huddle around, and open fireplaces inside to snuggle in front of.

The Penny Black proudly supports local music acts, and hosts live bands inside most nights of the week. Resident and visiting DJs take care of the outside area… not bad at all for a venue with no cover charge. The cute bar staff don’t hurt, either.

Do get here in the afternoon to snag a table with some mates outside, enjoy the sunshine, food and drink, and relax until the place livens up after dark.

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A Second Review of The Penny Black

Review by Julia Gailey

I have lived in Brunswick for the last four years and watched The Penny Black grow into one of the most popular night spots on Sydney Rd.

What’s great about the Penny Black, or I affectionately call it ‘The Pen’, is that it really does cater to a wide range of patron needs. Like a magical house in Harry Potter, The Penny Black may seem cramped from exterior view, yet on the inside you’ll find it magically expands! As you pass through the band room, and main bar, to the dining room, go by the covered veranda, and then find yourself in an extensive beer garden.

The Penny Black offers both indoor and outdoor seating, where you can appreciate either live music or DJs. The last time I went there they had the football on in one room, and then live music in the other. This is perfect for a visit with your partner. He can watch the game with his mates, and you and your girlfriends can burn up the dance floor.

I’ve noticed that the Penny Black is no longer a venue exclusive to the Brunswick residents, many people travel in from the outer suburbs just to spend a night at the Penny. The best nights at the Penny black are the ones where you don’t have to line up, I suggest hitting the Penny Black on a Thursday night where you can enjoy the live music, and food without the close pressed nightclub vibe. For those of you coming in for the weekend; why not avoid the line and come in earlier, have some dinner with your drinks, your head will thank you for it in the morning.

Pizza’s start at $6.00, however I would recommend the Haloumi burger, which is definitely something worth travelling suburbs for. It’s really good having such a substantial vegetarian option available. Your going to find drink prices at the Penny Black a little steeper than other Sydney Rd venues. However, they are no higher than average night club prices, and considering its popularity has grown to involve weekend line up it’s only fair enough that they charge night club value.

A wide range of people can feel at home at The Pen, the age span would encompass about 18-45. Punch bowls of personalities are also available from ‘Hipsters’ to ‘football jocks’. Nevertheless, if you are in search of the quintessential ‘Brunswick’ hipster edge, perhaps try somewhere else because the Penny Black is sometimes scorned by that crowd of ‘selling out.’

I see the Penny Black as the perfect local venue; most nights you can expect a decent crowd to be gathered at the Pen which is perfect for having a bit of casual fun. I have never paid a cover charge for any of my nights out at the Pen, weekend or weekday, check out their online gig guide to see what bands you can check out for free.

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A Third Review Of The Penny Black

Written by Caitlyn Leggett

Penny Black – nestled on the bustling Sydney Road – perfectly resonates the northern suburban style. It’s the type of bar you would take a foreign friend to; the epitome of a quirky Melbourne bar with a laid-back, friendly vibe. Throw a touch of Brunswick ‘hipster’ in with the comfortable setting, delicious food and free events all week long and it’s no wonder it has long been a local favourite.

This venue is most popular for its extensive beer garden, filled with long tables, wooden booths and come Sundays in summer, it’s also filled with ‘Sunday seshers’. But don’t think you’ll be stuck out in the cold during winter, as outdoor heaters and warm friendly smiles will keep you happy.

The staff here are super friendly and when you hear slight accents among them, you can’t help but play a guessing game of ‘where are they from?’.

The crowd here is much the same. Various groups find their way to this old, heritage-listed Postal Office. There will be a mix of locals in their 20-somethings talking politics, university kids sharing jugs of cider and tourists who have more of an interest in Melbourne than just St Kilda beach and the Eureka sky-deck.

The front band room where they host their live, local music acts on weekends invites you with mix-matched couches, coffee tables, bar stools and everything in-between. Industrial lights hang from the high ceiling and while you wait at the bar you can marvel at the vintage postage stamps wallpaper.

The venue offers something fun for every day of the week, including a movie night with free popcorn, trivia night and even a market on some Saturday mornings. All of this without ever paying a cover charge.

One of the highlights of this venue is their $4 gourmet pizza selection including two desert pizzas. For the simplistic pizza lovers (that’s me!), you can’t go past the Relapse pizza. Ironic name indeed, because I will definitely be grabbing another on my next visit. Offered all day Monday to Thursday and 12-5pm on Fridays.

The menu is reasonably priced, with mains starting from $14 and a different $10 special every weeknight. The food here may be cheap, but it’s the drink prices that will hit you for a 6. Or 7. Or 8. A pot of Carlton Draught is cheapest at $4.70 with most schooners sitting at around $8. Wine starts from $7.50 a glass. They have a great selection of beers and ciders on tap, so sharing jugs is a great idea, unless you’d rather fork out $9 for a spirit.

Friday and Saturday nights can get very busy. With a live DJ in the beer garden, the space turns into a dance floor and standing area. It’s near impossible to find a table and that’s after standing in a long line to get in, so it may be best to come a little early.

The Penny Black is a great all-rounder, perfect for a stop on a bar-hop, a night out for dinner and drinks with friends or to listen to some free live music. Check out their website for their gig guide.

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