Apart from some amazing authentic Middle Eastern and Turkish restaurants that serve great food but lack presentation and ambience (that won't stop us going, mind you), Coburg is a veritable dining wasteland. And while the options may be limited, there are one or two that shine. The Post Office Hotel, for one, is a well-rounded gastro-pub experience, complete with bandroom and regular music gigs. The dining hall to one side is expansive and offers elegant, tasty food at a price only justified by sitting squarely in the 'gastro' category.
Exposed brick walls and an open fireplace are matched by large terrariums that adorn the recycled timber tables, many surrounded by large booths, and an open kitchen that gives this space a contemporary restaurant feel with a menu to match. Share plates include charcuterie ($25), pickles and breads ($20) and pork hock and gruyere croquettes ($15), while entree and main menus are brief but well-rounded. The dill-crumbed smoked eel with spiced beetroot, aioli, capers and white anchovy ($15) is an interesting starter and the pan-fried Blue Eye with prawn ravioli, brandy and ginger bisque, celery and leek ($32) a hero of the mains.
If that all sounds a little too upmarket for you (and we wouldn't judge), the bar next door offers a more humble experience. Here, the new lounge features Chersterfields and an open fire, with a front bar for gigs and a leafy beer garden for summer nights. The bar menu echoes the dining hall next door in a few of the prices — a chicken parma will set you back $25 — but offers some more down-to-earth options such as a burger with shoestring fries for $17 and a beef and bean chilli with corn relish and rice for $20.
While this review may sound a little price-obsessed, it's important you know what you're in for. In search of some good ol' pub grub at the local? This is not the joint for you. Seeking a cosy place to sit with a glass of wine and well-considered bar food? The Post Office bar and lounge has what you need. And if you're wanting a sophisticated dining experience with good food, great service and the atmosphere to match, head into the dining hall and forget that this is supposed to be a pub. The reality here is a little bit different — not very 'Coburg' in any sense of the suburb — and the results more refined.