Team behind The Continental open Italian-style pizza and wine bar

Authentic pizzas, “smashable” wines and good vibes are guaranteed at Lou’s Pizza and Wine.

Geelong is to become home to a brand new pizzeria and wine bar, helmed by Ryan Thompson, restaurateur-extraordinaire behind The Continental.

Located just off Little Malop Street on Mcclardy Place, Lou’s Pizza and Wine is taking notes from old school Italian pizzerias, with a bit of Geelong grunge thrown in. Think easygoing, delicious fare alongside stellar local and international wines in a restaurant too comfortable to leave.

Locals will know the building previously housed a pizzeria, but Lou’s is starting totally fresh. A brand new menu developed by a talented young chef features a wide selection of pizzas, flatbreads and dip and tasting platters. And as for the golden question, what kind of pizza base should punters expect, Thompson has the most delightful reply: “thin base, puffy crust, nice, light style pizza.” We love to hear it.

The fit-out features an alfresco garden where Aperol Spritz and Campari are the heroes. Indoors it’s all about wood finishes, comfy seats and the smell of woodfired goodies. Come rain, hail or shine, Lou’s is destined to become a favourite local hangout. And it’s even pandemic-proof, something Thompson was determined to achieve after the last year of closures at The Continental.

“We needed something covid-proof where we can keep our staff on and keep feeding people… We can put our pasta and pizza in takeaway boxes and keep making good food seven days a week.”

Lou’s Pizza and Wine opens in August 2021.

WHAT: Lou’s Pizza and Wine
WHERE: Mcclardy Place, Geelong
WHEN: August 2021
MORE INFO: Lou’s Pizza and Wine

David and Karina Reyne open an intimate wine and cheese bar in Flinders

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It’s an intoxicating mix of cheese, wine, whisky, celebrity, and passion. Plonk and Stink opened late last month and is an intimate wine and cheese bar in the main drag of Flinders on the Mornington Peninsula. 

The actual property is owned by musician and TV presenter David Reyne and his wife, wine industry professional Karina Reyne. 

“Come lockdown last year we had this shop, and it wasn’t bringing in rent, and David’s work on Nine’s Getaway had fallen away because of the pandemic,” says Karina, formerly the events manager at Jackalope in Merricks North. 

The irrepressible pair fell back on what they know best: food, wine, and entertainment and opened Plonk and Stink. The name is explained by David’s father’s cheeky names for wine and Camembert. The fit-out is clean lines, lots of Spotted Gum paneling, and stained Stringybark tabletops. 

The experience is about trying Victorian cheese and Victorian wines from small producers from around the state. The flights of three 50ml pours and three 15g potions of cheese start at $30 for the ‘Take Flight’ and involve cheeses from makers such as L ‘Artisan, Berry’s Creek, Milawa and Maffra, with supply changing with the seasons.

Karina’s long-term relationships with the wine industry have allowed the pair to get their hands on some rare and limited museum wines for the ‘Top Flight’ at $60. The most recent offer saw Crawford River ’13 Riesling,  Paringa Estate ’14 Pinot Noir, and Elogee Park ’08 Cabernet Merlot, all kept bright and fresh under gas from the Coravin dispenser. 

This place is really about the two of us

“It’s about what we love, what interests us. David will deliver the flights to the customers and fill them in on what is on the plate and in the glasses in front of them,” says Karina.


Where: 3/37 Cook Street, Flinders,
When: Thu-Sun 12pm-7pm
More info: Plonk & Stink

We wish to acknowledge the Bunurong people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

A two-storey restaurant and bar opens in a heritage-listed boiler room

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Old school brickwork, soaring ceilings and exposed beams make for an inspiring dining and drinking experience.

Everybody knows you eat with your eyes. But there’s something to be said for having a delicious meal in a gorgeous location. Enter 1915, Geelong’s newest restaurant nestled in the former Federal Woollen Mills in one very delightful, historic red-brick boiler house.

Extensive renovations under the guidance of the Hamilton Group have seen the centuries-old building transform into something of a vision. Just a stone’s throw away from the famed Geelong North Smokestack, the restaurant boasts two storey’s (both fitted with cocktail bars, of course), a glass-encased wine room on the lower level and plenty of space for every kind of social gathering. Work functions, long-table dining events, post-work hangs or an intimate dinner; this magical space caters to it all.

Headed up by Chef Andy Symeonakis – whose delicious fare you may have sampled at Kingsley’s Steak and Crab House, Hellenic Republic or the Lorne Hotel – the 1915 team are bringing classic Mediterranean eats to the table with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and some exceptional drinks to match.

The new digs are all thanks to the hard work and dedication of two Geelong school mates Cam Hamilton and Rob Macafee, who after twenty-five years of friendship decided to put their love of the region and its history to use. Their careful renovations see the building’s unique history (it was designed by the same architect who designed Australia’s first parliament) come to life, while bringing the contemporary finishes us 21st Century folk love most.

Whether you’re looking to sink a few beers with mates on the weekend, tuck into a handmade Neapolitan style pizza for dinner, or graze on a chef-selected local market cheese board with a cocktail in hand, 1915 has got you covered.

WHAT: 1915 Geelong
WHERE: PH2 / 33 Mackey Street, North Geelong
WHEN: Open Sunday – Wednesday 11am-10pm, Thursday – Saturday 11am – 1pm
MORE INFO: 1915 Geelong

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Indulge in a regional foodie feast at Castlemaine’s new Bar Midland

Words by Richard Cornish
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It’s perhaps the most audacious opening for years. No farmed meat. No sugar. Just food grown around Castlemaine or harvested in Victoria, where you’ll find this small bar/dining room with an almost austere art deco interior inside a majestic old 1870s pub.

Even the wine list is 100% Victorian with wines from people like Gilles Lapalus and Simon Killeen featuring by the glass – at prices where you don’t need to refinance the house to afford.  It comes as no surprise when you realise that conscientious chef Alex Marano is behind the 16 course, $110 per head, menu of small plate dishes.

Every one of those dishes shouts volumes of place and season. There could be beautifully formed agnolotti filled with potato, mint, ricotta and dressed in sharp and rich buttermilk, mandarin, and fennel sauce. There are dishes cooked on the handmade charcoal grill that sits at the heart of the open kitchen, which gives the room a faint smokey tang. No beef? But there is the wild shot rabbit, slowly cooked in olive oil until it is perfect to the tooth. And do not expect salmon or barramundi – instead, order the big, meaty angasi oysters.

Marano, previously known as Alex Perry, has always been part of a ground-breaking team. He worked with Paul Mathis at the ahead of its time S.O.S. (Save Our Seafood) sustainable fish restaurant in Melbourne and was part of the early MoVida team. At The Good Table in Castlemaine, he was an early adopter of the collab bringing in chefs like Marty Beck from Dr. Marty’s Crumpets to do weekly pop-ups. With fellow traveller Louden Cooper running the front of house and drinks, the pair put on an incredibly disciplined service working with such tight seasonal and local parameters.

The small dining room is exceptionally true to the scale and ergonomics of art deco architects. Decorations include prints from 1930s artist (and Castlemaine woman) Christian Waller (who with her husband Napier Waller designed some of Melbourne’s most exceptional stained-glass windows). Bar Midland promises to be an experience people will travel for as the Castlemaine train station is opposite and there is accommodation offered at the Midland Hotel.

N.B. At the time of writing, the Midland Hotel was undergoing renovations that cloaked the building in scaffolding. The Midland Hotel was still offering accommodation, and Bar Midland was open for service. A new bar with a compact bar menu will open shortly in the hotel’s former radio room.


WHAT: Bar Midland
WHERE: 1-2 Templeton Street, Castlemaine
WHEN: Open Now
MORE INFO:  Bar Midland
At the time of writing, the Midland Hotel was undergoing renovations that cloaked the building in scaffolding. The Midland Hotel was still offering accommodation, and Bar Midland was open for service. A new bar with a compact bar menu will open shortly in the hotel’s former radio room.

We wish to acknowledge the Dja Dja Wurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Speakeasy meets Gatsby at the new Non Disclosure Bar

Saddle up Geelong, hospitality heavyweight Gorge Camorra is opening up another bar right in the heart of town.

The brains (and chief mixologist) behind G-Town’s beloved 18th Amendment Bar and Manhattan Bar, Gorge Camorra is bringing all his chops to the new Non Disclosure Bar, located just where you need it; Little Malop Street.

Much like the 1920’s Prohibition speakeasy style locals have come to love at 18th Amendment, Non Disclosure will have that same old-world America feel, but this time with a dash of Gatsby thrown in. Think high class finishes, rare and delicious spirits and world-class service.

Camorra says the bar is as much about a cracking night out as it is a time-warp through history, thanks to the number of important historic bottles on show. Spirits and liqueurs from Camorra’s personal collection, which he has sourced from around the world for over 20 years, will turn into your favourite cocktail classics at the hands of expert mixologists.

“If you started dinking whiskey in the 80s, we’ve got whiskey made in the 80s still there, bottled, because it actually does change. If you like a Negroni, we can make you one with vermouth, Campari and gin from the 1970s.”

In keeping with the 1920’s gentleman’s club atmosphere, Non Disclosure seats just 42 guests, so an intimate but surprisingly non-elitist night awaits. There’ll be a Martini cart that comes to your table and makes your cocktail before your eyes, a cheese trolley to keep your stomach lined, plus fresh oysters and charcuterie for the hungrier among us.

As for the interior, after four months of extensive renovations, guests can expect a gorgeous Art Deco style to while the night away in. Non Disclosure is set to open up in August, so start planning your ultimate night out now.

WHAT: Non Disclosure Bar
WHERE: Little Malop Street, Geelong
WHEN: August 2021
MORE INFO: Non Disclosure Bar

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Ballarat’s newest cocktail bar Renard hits all the right notes

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Lunch, post-work drinks and late-night hangs are sorted with the freshly minted, disco-centric bar and social club Renard. 

It’s no secret Ballarat is full of exceptional places to eat, drink and hang. Arguably some of the finest would be owned and/or operated by the dynamic duo Teddy and Louis Powlett – the brothers behind Moon and Mountain, Winner Winner and Ragazzone. And now, their latest venture Renard is ready for your lovin’.

Headed up by youngest brother Louis, Renard has a fresh, modern feel as soon as you walk in the doors. A glistening art deco interior with emerald green and stone touches instantly makes you feel at home, while also offering the promise of a decadent night to remember.

Indeed, with cocktails and contemporary bistro-style dishes such as these, you won’t soon forget your dining or drinking experience. Seasonal and native produce features in each drink, which Louis hopes will “bridge the gap between accessible and intrigue.” Wines, meanwhile, have been carefully chosen from across the country to give punters a Melbourne-quality selection with an emphasis on natural winemaking processes.

As for the food, expect to see small but mighty bites such as BBQ MB5 wagyu with foraged mushrooms and sauce bordelaise, Meredith Goat’s Cheese doughnuts made with choux pastry and truffled native honey, and charcuterie boards fit for a king. Everything is prepared on-site, with minimal waste and environmentally conscious practices. 

Renard is housed in the former Faux Social Club, which Ballarat locals will remember as one of the coolest places to spend your night and also run by the Powlett’s. The brothers decided it was time for a change during the pandemic and got cracking on extensive renovations. A couple of good things have been preserved in the reno’s, however.

“People used to mispronounce the Faux Social Club as the “Fox” Social Club. It became a bit of a tongue-in-cheek in-joke for all of us, calling it the Fox Social Club. Renard in French means “fox”, so when we did the change, we thought we’d better keep a hint of the old in the new,” Louis explains.

We reckon they’ve got the balance spot on. Renard is open now.

WHAT: Renard Bar and Social Club
WHERE: 209 Mair St, Ballarat
WHEN: Open Wednesdays — Sundays from midday onwards.

Stawell’s new micro-brewery ticks all the right boxes

Words by Amanda Kennedy
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It wasn’t a direct road to brewing for Shawna Dominelli. Originally from the USA, she landed her first Australian wine industry job at Seppelts  Great Western in 2010. Shawna and her husband, Michael, then took off to Western Australia for several years, eventually becoming an assistant brewer at Perth brewery, Gage Roads Brewing Co.

The pull of family and friends saw the pair return to north-western Victoria to settle in Stawell. ‘Ultimately, we ended up choosing this region because of the sense of community around here. It’s a small country town, but boy people are really proud of the region,’ Dominelli explains.

Putting down roots meant it was time to bring the brewery dream to fruition. The rustic pop-up style bar got a gentle nudge to open just in time for the Stawell Gift /Easter weekend tourism boost and is still getting its finishing touches. With laneway access, brewing and fermentation equipment taking pride of place and BYO food option, this set-up ticks all the craft brewery boxes.

Current offerings include a German-style pilsner on tap as well as a range of small-batch wines, hand-crafted cocktails and a cellar door exclusive rosé gin, which uses wine in its production. This innovative cross-pollination is part and parcel of Dominelli’s approach.

In the future, there will be some crossover between fruit, wine, beer and spirits – just crossing over into some of these beverages with the creation of both or one or three. It’ll be interesting.

Looking to capitalise on the region’s strong agricultural position, Dominelli knew that using local ingredients was key to their success, as well as a smart move for a sustainable supply chain.

‘Basically what we want to provide for our customers is just fresh locally made beer, and you can’t get any better than that. We’re looking into sourcing local grain, connecting with a couple of local barley farmers and we’ve reached out to House of Malt in Ballarat to do custom malting for us.’

Further to their focus on sustainability, all beers will be available to drink in as well as take away in growlers, cans and bottles filled to order. Heat recovery, water conservation and renewable energy programs show that the company is walking their green talk.

Whether the word play was deliberate or not, you’ve got to admit that Grampian’s ale does indeed work.

WHAT: Grampians Ale Works
WHERE: 3 Victoria Place, Stawell
WHEN: Mon – Thurs closed, Fri 4pm – 10pm, Sat 12pm – 10pm, Sun 12pm – 8pm
MORE INFO: Grampians Ale Works

Farm stay, bar and soon to be kitchen; the restored Hotel Granya has got it all

Nestled on the banks of Lake Hume in Towong Shire, the historic Hotel Granya has woken from its decade-long slumber thanks to Bridget Bowe and Gary Paxton.

The couple, who share over 25 years of hospitality experience, purchased the pub at the beginning of 2020 while operating their other venue, The Bethanga Hotel, and proceeded to spend the year carefully restoring the property when COVID-19 hit.

The result is nothing short of magical. Bridget and Gary have transformed the Hotel Granya from classic country pub into a charming farm stay, bar and soon-to-be pub kitchen – all set on 6 acres of rolling hills with alpacas, ponies, sheep and chickens to boot.

The idyllic lakeside property features two self-contained dwellings, The Cedar House and The Silver Gum Lodge, whose bespoke interiors blend country style with Scandinavian touches, as well as a hotel dormitory perfect for those looking for a place to rest their head while exploring the region.

While the farm stay and bar is already in full swing giving travellers a home away from home, the pub kitchen is planned to launch in May 2021, and things are looking pretty delicious. Chef David Barrows is leading the charge after working with Gary at Bethanga Hotel, and will be dishing up share platters with the likes of Black Spice Salt and Pepper Squid, Croquettes and Lamb Koftas, to name a few. Pub classics will also be on offer.

If you fancy bringing along your own tucker before the kitchen opens, Bridget encourages punters to enjoy the grounds with their BYO picnic or barbecue. They’ve even got picnic grazing boxes on offer on weekends.

The team have big plans for The Hotel Granya, which Bridget says are only just getting started. With her background in the arts and community service, Bridget hopes to link community groups with the property by running gardening programs.

“We would love to use the grounds to host community events and open it up to artists and creatives to run workshops. We hosted a floral wreath making workshop just prior to Christmas, and have a Clay one coming up in April. We are also in consultation with a local Yoga Teacher with the plan to host a Yoga Retreat here later in the year.” Bridget explains.

Despite being hit with a pandemic, this innovative duo are proving that creativity doesn’t stop with difficulty. So drop in for a cold one if you are in the area and add a night in their stunning accomodation. They even give you fresh eggs and fruit from the orchard if you do!

WHAT: Hotel Granya
WHERE: 3100 Murray River Road, Granya
WHEN: Accommodation and bar now open, kitchen opening May 2021
MORE INFO: Hotel Granya Farmstay

Say hello to Daylesford Brewing Co’s flagship taproom

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A tidal wave of independent brewing has swept across regional Victoria in the last ten years, with Daylesford the next town in line to receive its very own craft beer outpost, courtesy of Daylesford Brewing Co.

Co-owners of Daylesford Brewing Co, Dave Gill and Jess Holmes, have taken over the former Wine and the Country Bar at 1/97 Vincent Street (now Winespeake) and the property next door, removed the wall in between and transformed the space into a lush bar and taproom.

The craft brewery’s first permanent outpost will be opening near Easter 2021 with the beers flowing on tap, both indoor and outdoor seating featuring space for up to 100 guests and a menu full of bar favourites like popcorn chicken, arancini and slow-cooked lamb ribs.

Taking inspiration from city taprooms and bars, the Daylesford Brewing Co taproom will feature a fully equipped bar, booth seating and central tables with a hint of classical “country-style” finishes.

Since bottling their first beer in 2014, the delicious pale ales, golden ales and porter from Daylesford Brewing Co have only been available through a small list of local bars and bottle shots. Now with the opening of the taproom and bar, punters can now go straight to the horse’s mouth to get a taste of their premium brews.

The couple’s plans for spreading the good taste of craft beer don’t stop there. They also have acquired the former Fire Brigade Hotel two doors down, with the aim to set up a permanent brewery and hospitality space. Built-in the 1860s, the historic site has had several incarnations in its 150-year life span; from pub to guest house, a gift shop and even a milk bar, and its most grandiose transformation coming in a few years time. We hear the interior will be curated by Jess, whose background in interior design means the space will be as beautiful as it is functional.

For now, though, all can get their craft beer fix soon at the Daylesford Brewing Co taproom and bar. Cheers to that!

WHAT: Daylesford Brewing Co taproom and bar
WHERE: 97 Vincent Street, Daylesford
WHEN: Easter 2021
MORE INFO: Daylesford Brewing Co


The Trawool Estate

It takes some serious imagination and no small amount of bravery to look at a property between two small-ish regional centres in an albeit idyllic valley, and transform it into a destination restaurant. It seems to be that when you apply imagination and bravery, along with no small amounts of skill and doggedness, that no amount of hither-to unknown-ness of a location will impede the success of a venture. Apply this to the small valley between Yea and Seymour, and you have The Trawool Estate.

Transforming this property between Yea and Seymour on the Melba Highway was no small task. All the accommodation was gutted and refitted along with the restaurant. The business is entirely renewed. Food could be described as sophisticated regional, but that would do both descriptors a disservice. It’s sophistication is not pretentious, but lies squarely in the treatment of the outstanding produce. The commitment to regional comes from understanding where the property sits – squarely in one of the most productive and beautiful parts of regional Victoria.

Details are everything, or so the old saying alludes. These are not lost on the folks at The Trawool Estate. The little pre-mixed cocktails that kept those in-the-know satiated during lockdown are now served in those very same single serve bottles to guests in the rooms. The cocktail list is as extensive as the wine list is considered, and again local producers are to the fore. Speaking of cocktails, if you’re up for it, don’t miss the master-classes – definitely a stay-over event.

Make sure you follow the social media pages – The Trawool Estate runs some fairly astonishing events, with many planned ahead.