The Waterside Hotel, an imposing three storey building on the corner of King and Flinders Streets, has just undergone renovation, with the aim of redirecting some of the foot traffic from the “Paris end” of town by offering a drinking and dining experience not usually associated with the western side of the CBD.
On arrival, my plus one and I were led to the Doghouse, a new addition to the Waterside and stylish throwback to 50s America, complete with retro signs and chequered tablecloths. Tucked away at the back of the hotel, behind the public bar, it almost feels like its own venue, offering a more intimate alternative to the hustle and bustle of the main pub.
The Doghouse menu sticks to American favourites such as hot dogs, curly fries, onion rings, and root beer, guaranteed crowd-pleasers and ideal fuss-free bar snacks. Six different hot dogs are available, offering a range of flavours that are definitely more gourmet than greasy: I particularly enjoyed the ‘monkey magic,’ featuring kimchi, coriander and crispy shallots, a combination both sweet and fiery. Even more enjoyable were the bottled cocktails, the choice being an old fashioned, a negroni or a vesper, all of which had excellent taste and presentation.
After relaxing in the doghouse, we were invited on a tour of the building, during which the full scale of the renovations became clear. Much of the ingenuity of the redesign lies in the creation of several different spaces within the building, each catering to a different type of customer or mood.
The Alehouse celebrates the traditional Australian pub, paying homage to the venue’s 100 year old wharfing history through its maritime themed decor; the Chophouse is an elegant dining room with an old world feel, featuring antique paintings sourced from Europe; then there’s the Bubblehouse, a champagne and cocktail lounge with an impressive selection of fizz and the Roof, ideal for enjoying the warmer weather and sweeping views of the Melbourne skyline (and, of course, the Doghouse if that’s not enough choice).
The quality of the food did not disappoint, with a starter of smoked cobia, carrots, horseradish cream and liquorice, full of delicately balanced flavours, followed by a 250g Robbins Island Wagyu flank steak, juicy and tender, both on the plate and in the mouth. We rounded off our meal with rhubarb crumble and buttermilk ice cream, crunchy and tart and sweet all at the same time.
Our hosts were generous and welcoming, the food and drink flawless. We had so much fun we stayed the whole afternoon- we could have easily stayed the whole night too!
Charlotte Pordage is a writer/editor from the UK. When she’s not attending events, she can be found riding her horse Rudolph and exploring Melbourne’s eclectic nightlife. @charpordage
The Waterside Hotel is open 11am-12am Monday to Friday and 12pm-12am Saturday and Sunday. Bookings for dining are only available in the Chophouse. Visit their website for more information.
508 Flinders St
03 9629 1350