Adjoining the Post Office Hotel’s original building, the vast space (which once housed a bad night club) had been touted for refurbishment by owners Shannon Vanderwert and Danial Caneva since they took over in early 2010. Originally the plan was for a band room, but the growing popularity of the pub’s excellent food and the fact that they increasingly had to turn diners away meant that more seats and more food was the logical progression.
“We’ve always had live music but we’ve found that largely, our crowd comes for the great food,” says Caneva. When locals started turning up and couldn’t get a seat, Vanderwert and Caneva decided that they needed more space. “It was a case of demand and supply,” offers Caneva. “Live music still goes on in the front bar but we realised that the music was secondary.”
The idea to start offering breakfast and coffee came out of necessity and desperation in part. When the team started early-morning renovations back in March they soon realised there were limited nearby options for good coffee and decided to team up with Brunswick-based roasters, Padre to resolve this problem.
Along with head chef and fellow co-owner Troy Payne, Vanderwert and Caneva are responsible for much of the design and fit out. “Thankfully, Shannon and I agree on most things. We have similar taste so it just worked,” offers Caneva. In contrast to the parent pub’s dark and cosy deco-flourished interiors, the new dining hall is bright, bustling and thoroughly modern. Making the most of the building’s best assets – with high ceilings, exposed beams and raw brick walls all being kept on show – the fit out cleverly retains much of the building’s original character and despite its size manages a warm, effortless charm.
The dining room is divided into a mix of bar seating, communal tables, banquettes and cosy booths though the best seats in the house are undoubtedly those flanking the lively open kitchen – where couples and solo diners can witness the chefs’ fancy footwork and entertaining back-of-house theatrics up close. If you look up above the kitchen you’ll also spy a rather arresting charcuterie cellar – elevated and on show like a veritable tabernacle of dry-ageing, house-made small goods.
The man behind the meat is talented head chef Payne, who having spent several years as Greg Malouf’s right hand man at MoMo, is one chef who certainly knows his sumac from his sujuk. Here, his Middle Eastern-accented menu pays playful homage to Coburg’s Levantine influences; think coriander-flecked sesame prawn ‘paddle pops’ with Turkish aioli or zaatar-crumbed turkey schnitzel with citrus rice pilav. Then there’s the pulled goat ‘Coburger’ - a modern take on the trusty kebab, done here with soused onion, creamy eggplant and a tangy sumac-cucumber salad – one dish that is surely destined for local legend status. The similarly inspired breakfast menu runs through until 3pm daily and is divided into ‘hungry’ and ‘not-so-hungry’ categories, which – along with the Padre coffee – is sure to suit the weekend hangover crowd.
Like any great pub the POH sports a cracker beer garden, open fires and excellent beers on tap, but with its handsome fit out and hit-laden menu the humble local has never looked so good.
Mon-Tue – 7am-3pm, 5:30-9pm
Wed-Sat - 7am-3pm, 5:30-10pm
229 Dining Hall and Cafe
229 Sydney Road, Coburg
(03) 9386 5300