The old Robbie Burns on Smith Street reopened last night after a hefty nine-month renovation. And the Robert Burns Hotel certainly looks brighter, whiter and considerably more spacious than the former warren of rooms that punctuated the building. But there is still a definite comfort to the whites, rusts, reds and woods that dress the space.

The Colonial Leisure Group bought the hotel two years ago and, determined to maintain the Spanish theme in the kitchen that started back in 1982 with Urbano Gutierrez, have employed some savvy Spanish staff who are experienced in hospitality and passionate about their culture. Head chef is Ivan Saiz with co-manager Jose Murgui (who previously worked together at St Kilda’s Entre Tapas y Vinos) joined by management counterpart Jose Ortega.

“Robbie Burns is about authentic Spanish food and a good experience,” says Ortega. “We will feature different Spanish regions on the menu eventually but right now we are getting it right.”

Complimentary sangria was flowing last night as locals filled the 48-seat dining room. There is a front bar section for tapas-only and a communal table behind the bar for “a quieter drink than the front bar, or for a group,” explains Ortega.

The fact that the new owners have respected the uncanny notion of a pub with a Scottish name and Spanish food is a definite positive. Plus, it’s good to see an old favourite reopening for a second stint.

Robert Burns Hotel
376 Smith Street, Collingwood
(03) 9417 2233

Get our pick of the best news, features and events delivered twice a week

Mon to Thu 5pm–11pm
Fri to Sat noon–11pm
Sun 11am–6pm