The Woodlands Hotel in Coburg is a real neighbourhood gem, with a rustic front bar boasting a spectacular hardwood bar top and a unique Victorian craft beer drinks menu. With beers on tap ranging from the Mornington Peninsula Brewery to Kooinda Brewery to Bridge Road Brewery and Cavalier Brewery, you won't find Carlton Draught here.
Just over a year old, and with over 80 craft beers to choose from, The Woodlands will tickle your taste buds and take you on a trip around the Victorian craft beer scene. Once you have selected your ale of choice, be sure to explore the medieval beer garden. See lush foliage combined with rusted metallics and aged pergolas – it's one of the better beer gardens I've had the pleasure to drink in lately.
The Woodlands has also fired up a BBQ menu on Mondays throughout summer, where $20 will get you an overflowing plate of gourmet BBQ meats and salads. From slow-cooked asado style beef ribs, to herbed chargrilled chicken breast, to Moroccan-style lamb cutlet and house made duck sausage - the gourmet meats on offer comprise a veritable feast. The Woodlands also has a "Winning on Wednesday" special, which is usually a curry and a pot of craft beer for $15. The Mauritian beef curry is particularly impressive.
In the upstairs restaurant, the main meals on offer are a little more pricey but are wonderfully prepared and will be sure to satisfy. I recommend the twice cooked pork belly with choko fricassée, pickled carrot, guava and coriander salad. The smoked duck breast with roasted beetroot, confit duck leg, fresh peas, baby herb salad and red wine jus is also a mighty impressive meal. And stay for dessert, because head chef Jocelyn Riviere whips up an amazing Mauritian coconut pudding with jackfruit sorbet, Mauritian sugarcane rum and lime syrup, which reflects his Mauritian heritage.
Coburg seems to be quickly establishing itself as full of hidden little gems, and the Woodlands Hotel certainly falls into this category. Beer lovers in particular are strongly advised to take the trip up Sydney Rd to experience this gem in all its glory.