A new era for a favourite Collingwood pub and the rebirth of a milk bar in Vermont

Hotel Collingwood, formerly the Robert Burns Hotel, has been ready to open since August.
Hotel Collingwood, formerly the Robert Burns Hotel, has been ready to open since August. Photo: Electric Sunday

Only Hospitality, the group behind cafes including Glovers Station in Elsternwick and Bentwood in Fitzroy, are unveiling not one but two new venues when lockdown lifts, including their first pub.

Hotel Collingwood is the new name of the Robert Burns Hotel, which the group bought in June and completely refreshed with blackbutt timber, olive green carpets and white walls throughout three dining spaces, including a public bar.

"It's got fantastic bones so we didn't want to take from that too much," says group director Julien Moussi. "We just gave it a more contemporary feel."

Hotel Collingwood's menu includes Asian-leaning snacks and entrees alongside pub classics.
Hotel Collingwood's menu includes Asian-leaning snacks and entrees alongside pub classics. Photo: Electric Sunday

In the kitchen, chefs Allan Hwang (ex-Hawker Hall) and John Woo (ex-Chin Chin) are bringing experience to a menu of Asian-leaning snacks that pair well with days in the beer garden. Tempura cauliflower, nam jim-dressed kingfish and calamari with Sichuan pepper mayonnaise all feature, but classic pub dishes are still well-represented.

The venue has been ready to open since August. "We're ready and raring to go," says Moussi.

An outdoor area with a retractable roof will also be ready for anything Melbourne's weather throws at it, while 14 beer taps and a list of 100 wines walk the line between classic and zeitgeist.

Vermont General Store, a former milk bar in Melbourne's east, is ready to serve locals once restrictions ease.
Vermont General Store, a former milk bar in Melbourne's east, is ready to serve locals once restrictions ease. Photo: Electric Sunday

Moussi has also just opened the doors at Vermont General Store in Melbourne's east, serving takeaway pastries and coffee to locals over the past week, with an all-day menu of poached eggs through to lamb shoulder to begin once restrictions lift.

"It still has that milk bar-type feel when you walk in," says Moussi of the corner site that he estimates is 50 years old.

Up to 80 diners can sit indoors, kerbside or in the courtyard, tucking in to prawn and kimchi omelettes for breakfast or falafel and tabbouleh pitas for lunch.

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The group's Malvern East bakery business, Juliette, is supplying the store with bread and pastries that customers can eat in or take home. A pick-and-mix lolly stand is on the cards for local kids, too, while Moussi says milkshakes have been flying out the door.

Both venues will open for dine-in when restrictions lift.

Hotel Collingwood is open Tue-Sun noon-11pm at 376 Smith Street, Collingwood, hotelcollingwood.com.au

Vermont General Store is open Mon-Fri 6am-4pm, Sat-Sun 7pm-4pm at 37 Centre Road, Vermont.