We're always on the lookout for new pubs to go pub-clubbin', so when @beergirlbites told us The Woodlands Hotel in Coburg did some okay veg dishes, we added it straight to our agenda. It's a funny looking pub - almost like a weird fantasy land. The tables upstairs have a few giant thrones, the beer garden a strange sculpture and the main bar is dotted with strange little cabinets of oddities and has a couple of biplanes hanging from the ceiling. It's visually very busy (we should have taken more photos!).
The Woodlands prizes itself on its local beer selection - they have rotating taps and a fridge full of bottled options. I had a couple of very tasty Boatrockers. The menu (pdf here) isn't as veg-friendly as we were hoping - there's a single main, one share plate and a few sides. We gave it a pretty good workout - Cindy went with the share plate and a side.
The share plate was a beetroot carpaccio with saganaki, baby beetroot and smoked almonds ($16). This pretty fancy for pub food - delicately sliced discs of beetroot and slivers of salty cheese, topped with baby beetroot bits and pieces and smoky almonds and a nice light dressing.
Alongside it, Cindy ordered the green beans with shanklish and preserved lemon ($9).
There's nothing very complicated about this dish, but it's an excellent combination of flavours - salty, tangy cheese and some citrussy lemon pieces on a lightly cooked pile of beans.
I chose the one veggie main, Mauritian pumpkin & butternut squash curry with pilaf & roti ($26).
This hit the spot pretty impressively - the rice was lightly spiced and well cooked, the roti done reasonably well and the curry itself spicy and nicely put together. Tucked behind the roti was a little pot of quite spicy chutney, which added a bit of an extra kick. It's hard to justify paying $26 for it, but it was a reasonable meal nonetheless.
We decided to go the whole hog and sample the dessert menu, opting for the baked hot chocolate mousse with cumquat marmalade and creme fraiche sorbet ($14).
This was probably the highlight of the night - the mousse was rich and chocolatey with a good hit of tart cumquat which was tempered by the creamy sorbet. It was probably wise to split it between two because it was pretty rich.
The Woodlands Hotel is a solid addition to Melbourne's pub scene, pushing out into Coburg (following the trail blazed by The Post Office). Having said that, it's not really pumping out a wide range of vegetarian options - if we went back we'd more or less be ordering the same dishes - and the prices are pretty high. Given the ridiculous veg-friendliness of most of the inner-North's pubs, it's unlikely we'll be hurrying back for a second trip anytime soon.
There are a handful of positive reviews of The Woodlands out there, predominantly meat-tastic: see Parma Daze, RedWineCyclist, A Life in Melbourne and rosblogger.
The Woodlands Hotel
84-88 Sydney Road, Coburg
veggie dishes, $16-$26 (sides $9)
Accessibility: The entryway has a tiny step and the interior is reasonably spacious. The toilets are accessed via the beer garden (I didn't notice a specifically accessible option, but the gents wasn't ridiculously small). You order and pay at the bar.