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Wednesday 22 February 2023

Grande old Ballarat dame now a culinary hotspot

Pete Dillon used to be a marketing and communications specialist. Now he's sending out press releases about his own hotel and restaurants.

Dillon and his brother Paul took over the Hotel Canberra in Ballarat late last year and have gradually transformed the food offering with three different eateries on site.


Bobby's, a contemporary bar, showcasing 100% artisan, craft and small-batch beverages from across Victoria, along with grazing boards and nibbles, opened in late October. The Stables Café and Bar threw open its doors in November and now Vesta x Jigs restaurant is open.

The Stables is a seven-day licensed café incorporating 100-year-old heritage-listed stables, while Vesta x Jigs celebrates the growers, producers and artisans from all corners of Victoria, and sees chef Jigs Lawanag (ex Rockpool Melbourne) deliver a six-course degustation menu ($100pp) made up of 100% Victorian produce from Wednesday to Saturday.

"Our café is about 90% Victorian, but both Vesta x Jigs and Bobby's are 100% focused on food and beverage from every corner of Victoria," said chef Jigs.

"We have many friends on whose doors we have knocked, from the north east to the south west. Pete (GM Pete Dillon) has developed these relationships over decades and its so lovely to be able to call on these suppliers to grow our brand story."

Beverage pairings are offered alongside the constantly changing menu, that has influenced by cuisine from the chef's home country in the Philippines, as a well as Japan and Nordic cuisines.

“We have taken some time to build the offer for each part of the hotel as we go along,” says co-owner Paul Dillon. 

“We want to continue to evolve and are doing some work on the outside and al fresco dining as well as some plans for minor renovations in our accommodation space.

Each addition adds another layer to this grand old dame and will continue that evolution with new additions later this year.” he said.

Bookings are open at Vesta x Jigs but space is limited. Find out more at

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