The Dog House bar & bistro is one of those venues that you come across unexpectedly and which gives you a pleasant surprise both in how it presents itself and the first impressions provided by the likeable staff. Nestled within the Wild Dog Winery, a few kilometres south of Warragul, it resides right next door to the Wild Dog Winery restaurant and function centre, yet is a complimentary establishment rather than a competing one. Apparently the Dog House building was the residence for the winery some time back, but was sold a few years ago and converted into a bar & bistro.
You can still see the how the original house existed in its two story form and the transition into a bar & bistro has been done very well. It hosts two dining areas, an upper and lower one, with small alcoves dotted here and there where you can sit next to a fire and simply enjoy a drink or snack. There is certainly no absence of light either and the layout gave a very open and pleasant feeling on a somewhat dull Autumn day. Once again, we opted to choose what we hoped would be a relatively quiet afternoon and were rewarded by a not too busy session.
For entrée, we chose a platter of dips and bread, as both of us feel that these usually offer a nice start to a meal. This is the second time that we’ve come across an offering of dips that we’d be happy to order several servings and just go nuts for the rest of the afternoon. For mains, we went straight for the burger. This is the fourth burger in the fourth pub/bar that we’ve tried and it’s getting increasingly difficult to pick a winner, all have been outstanding. My wife went for her usual champagne, while I tried a King Pippin cider (it was nicely dry, but just lacked flavour after the first few sips, so I didn’t really warm to it), but the Stassen cider I tried after that was very pleasant. By the end of the meal, I was so full that the mere mention of the word dessert caused consternation. Don’t let the name fool you, and with a winery next door, this is a place worth visiting.
The Robin Hood Inn, located just outside of Drouin, was established in 1870 and used to be a stopover for the Cobb & Co coach company en route to Gippsland, when the journey from Melbourne to Sale could take up to 27 hours. I’ve gone past the Robin Hood Inn for over 40 years and have always wanted to drop in but, for one reason or another, have been unable to do so and so today we made a special effort, considering that we don’t live that far away. In the early years the highway passed right next to the Inn; however, with the advent of the freeway, it’s now somewhat hidden, though still well known.
Welcomed by the owner’s son Mathew, we found ourselves in a cosy dining room behind the main bar. While the inn has obviously had its share of makeovers over its 144 year history, it still retains most of the essential character of those early years. There are two bars, the main one at the front with a pool table etc and a smaller one facing the dining room, with an additional dining room next to where we were seated. Accommodation is also available, should you be on that long journey to Sale. It was just after midday on a Friday and it was already getting it’s fair share of travellers stopping by for lunch.
The menu was fairly extensive and I chose a Guinness beef pie while my wife selected a steak sandwich; I’d made a firm commitment not to choose a burger or the like this time around (I was tempted by the lamb shanks, but the pie won). Both of our meals were fine, wholesome, food of the type that you expect from a country pub. While my wife only had a squash this time, I tried out a Yenda Pale Ale, which wasn’t bad, but I think I would have preferred it with a lower hops content. The Robin Hood Inn is clearly a place that continues to receive its fair share of travellers on their way east and there’s no reason not to stop by and have a break along the way. I’m glad that I finally got a chance to visit.