229-231 Sydney Road Coburg, Victoria 305803 9386 5300
|Opening hours||Sun 7am-3pm, 5.30-10pm; Tues-Sun 7am-3pm & 5.30-11pm; Wed-Thurs 7am-3pm & 5.30pm-midnight; Fri-Sat 7am-3pm & 5.30-1am|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
|Payments||eftpos, Mastercard, Visa|
Where and what
Coburg's Post Office Hotel took an unexpected turn in the road three years ago when it was rescued from slow decay by a rock'n'roll brotherhood including Tex Perkins and Dallas Crane's Shannon Vanderwert. Their talents extended well beyond the music selection on the jukebox in the front bar; in fact, they turned out to be publican all-rounders with a good handle on booze and grub. And, hey presto, a social hub was born. The Dining Hall and Cafe is a more recent addition - a mammoth but atmospheric add-on, it has usurped the pub's original dining room (where you can now get bar meals) and feeds the masses with an easygoing Med-influenced menu.
Where to sit
Jazzing up the massive space next door to the art deco pub must have seemed a daunting job but they've done it with aplomb. The open kitchen provides a focal point, the chequered tessellated tile floor adds a 1950s slant, and the beams supporting the high roof, as well as exposed red brick with the plaster left in raggedy swatches, add that all-important industrial credibility.
When to go
The kitchen is open Tuesday-Sunday, 7am-3pm and 5.30pm-late.
What to drink
Beer. Lots of beer. Wines by the glass are limited but include some good local choices such as the Kennedy Shiraz from Heathcote. There's more joy by the bottle, with a surprisingly broad collection, and some welcoming price points for a range of varietals.
What to eat
You would pigeonhole the menu as more of a greatest-hits collection than an indie production, but that's OK when the ubiquitous pizza-pasta-salads and mains are done well - such as the fried rings of baby calamari with a squid ink aioli and a herby salad landmined with tart-sweet explosions of ruby grapefruit, or fresh tagliatelle with a rich pork and veal ragout and a generous hand on the shaved parmesan. Pizza arrives on a massive wooden paddle. Crisp but not shattery, with toppings that stick to the canon, they're a good bet - and there's chilli oil to DIY. Veal parmigiana is jazzed up with scamorza (smoked mozzarella) and the pick of desserts is a dense, simple chocolate tart with hazelnuts and creme fraiche.
Hipsters with kids for the early sittings; hipsters without kids later on.
It's the easygoing mess hall with pub attached that everyone wants in their 'hood. Lucky old Coburg.