Cheeky Dog Bar is a newly-opened bar and bistro located under Bannisters Hotel at Soldiers Point, Port Stephens. When the hotel first opened, this downstairs venue used to be called The Tavern, which had a cosy, locals feel and spectacular food. In 2019 the whole venue was gutted and it re-opened in late December 2019 as the trendy Cheeky Dog Bar. After waiting for months for the opening day to arrive, our family visited on its third night of the opening.
As we walked up the pathway, between banana leaves and tropical plants, it felt like we were walking into somewhere with relaxed, holiday vibes. When we entered, we were all astounded at the transformation. The central bar had been removed and it had tripled in size, with a huge warehouse-style space and exposed beams on the ceiling. Its name was also true to its word, with a large Great Dane dog sitting with its owner at the bar, happy with its new surroundings. One thing we all commented on, as we ooh'ed and aah'ed at the changes, was that the large open space created a loud, lively buzz. We couldn't wait to go in and explore...
The indoor space was divided into two sections - the bar, pool tables and TVs were at the front entrance, with the bistro and dining area at the back. Outside both the front and back doors were tables with umbrellas, with the ones out the back having water glimpses down to the beach. If you feel like exploring further, it is just a short walk out the back door of the bar and down to Soldiers Point Jetty, for a beautiful view of the bay.
Soldiers Point Jetty, located a short walk from Cheeky Dog Bar
Back at the bistro, we found an inside table and we were given a menu from one of the many staff out on the floor. Although the menu wasn't particularly large, we all found something that we wanted from its selection. As we were dining with our young daughter, we asked if there was a Kids Menu available and we were given a menu of three items to choose from, for $9 each. Alternatively, if your kids like pizza, there was also a Margarita and Ham & Pineapple pizza on the menu to choose from, or fried chicken off the Bar Bites menu.
Cheeky Dog Bar has two bars - one at the entrance and also one at the bistro, so you can order your meal and your drinks from the one location. On our visit, there were a few cashiers along the bar, so there wasn't a long wait time to place our order.
We chose the Cheeky Dog Mushroom Burger, which came with two small mushrooms inside the bun and French fries, as well as a Prawn, Octopus and Calamari stone-baked pizza. The pizza was the better out of the two, with tasty seafood and a good hit of chilli. We were told that there were no chicken nuggets left from the Kids Menu, however, our daughter happily had the chicken schnitzel replacement instead. We must admit, the food wasn't as we had hoped for on this first visit, however, we all agreed that the ambience was lively and it would be the perfect place to meet up with friends for a few "cheeky" beers, pizza and pool.
Prawn, Octopus and Calamari pizza - a tasty choice for chilli-lovers!
Every new venue needs time to find its feet, so we look forward to seeing how the Cheeky Dog Bar changes and evolves. It is a venue that locals will enjoy and it will also be favoured by visitors to Bannisters Hotel above, who may come down for a meal or a drink before dinner upstairs, at Rick Stein's seafood restaurant. It is also located across the road from the Big4 Holiday Park, so guests from that venue will also come across to check it out. This social venue also has live music on offer - which will be a highlight for young people and holiday-makers in the area, so they don't need to travel into Nelson Bay or Shoal Bay for live music or night entertainment.
Why don't you meet up with friends for a drink and a game of pool at Cheeky Dog Bar this weekend? For Soldiers Point locals and visitors, it is the newest, cheekiest place in town!
Stop for a cheeky cocktail at Cheeky Dog Bar, Soldiers Point! Image: Original images from Cheeky Dog Facebook