So two blog posts later, I am already eating my words about writing less foodie reviews. Well, if a place is good, it’s a shame to not say so really. The Woodlands Hotel in Coburg is one of these places.
It’s easy to walk past this beautiful old rusty coloured building as there is no obvious signage. But when you stop and look through the windows, you almost can’t help but wander in. This is exactly what we did mid last year making a mental note to come back. It was Twitter that brought us back – nothing much open during the January school holidays and the Woodlands Hotel tweets about their new kids menu.
The only way to check out what’s hidden around corners in an unfamiliar place is to explore first. Stop one is the beer garden. It has the same airiness and brightness as the inside space. Unfortunately, I don’t even get past the entrance as the first whiff of cigarette smoke I encounter puts me off. I respect a person’s right to smoke (in their own space) but it’s a general bane I have with beer gardens. A shame as I really wanted to have my first drink at the Woodlands in their beer garden so better luck next time hopefully.
Upstairs is a more formal dining space upstairs but is closed during the January holidays. We are allowed a quick look and another beautifully thought out space with its dramatic and bold yet distinctly classy tones beckons us to come back again.
The first thing son Harvey spies are the board games resting on the window sill. Being summer and into cricket, he quickly grabs an old board game. In the meantime, we are at the bar deciding on which of the many beers (over 60 Victorian craft beers apparently) and wines to have.
As soon as we settle down at our table. Harvey pesters husband Dean to set up the 1970s board game which, in itself, is a conversation item. The iPad doesn’t even get a look in.
The fit out is intriguing to say the least. What looks to me a bunch of eclectic items the owners have collected over the years and finally found a space for. Perhaps they are trying to bring the outside in. Not sure really. There are garden pots resting on top of other garden pots, bits of greenery dotted around, 2 massive concrete eagles staring at you just inside the entrance, outdoor lamps, an old cinema projector, circa early 1900s airplanes dangling from the ceiling, and various other metal and timber objects. So perhaps it’s my beer garden compromise – with all the windows open, the high ceilings, the natural light – I could pretend I am outside! Different story in winter I guess.