Situated along the Yarra River, in the heart of Southbank’s busy hospitality precinct, Hopscotch is Melbourne’s newest downbeat bar with a strong focus on a wide range of locally brewed and imported craft beer (30 on tap and 20 in bottles, to be precise).
The first thing you’ll notice upon entering Hopscotch are the colourful neon lights casually adorning the interior walls here and there, with a large electric blue “Take Me (I’m Yours)” sign located above the main bar, being the most eye-catching of them all. And whether you decide to sit inside or outside on the green waterfront terrace, you’ll find yourself feeling quite at ease thanks to the venue’s overall laidback atmosphere. However, if you take a look towards the back of the bar, just past the in-house “Frank the Tank” micro-brewery, you’ll spot a large and colourful mural created by local street artist Resio, a perfect visual reminder of Melbourne’s artistic and youthful culture.
The bar’s ode to Melbourne is further highlighted by the quirky food menu designed by head chef Adam Baughan. Visibly drawing influences from all over the world, the menu features a wide range of booze friendly dishes divided into seven different categories; “Bar Snacks”, “Brewer Boards”, “Bowls”, “One Handed”, “Burgers + Sangas”, “On the Side”, “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner”, and “Nitro Ice-Cream Bar”. On our visit, we decided to dabble in the lighter categories of “Bar Snacks” and “One Handed”, where we found some clear highs and lows.
When it comes to snacks designed to accompany alcohol, above all else, I for one find myself craving something well-seasoned and crunchy. However, Hopscotch’s Old School Veggie Crisps & Dip ($12), was a disappointment. True to its name, the paper-thin discs of sweet potato, zucchini, and white potato, served in a small brown paper bag, were crispy in texture, and pleasantly non-greasy. Unfortunately, the crisps seriously lacked proper seasoning which was made worse by the dull and creamy dip.
As weird as it sounds, the Cheeseburger spring rolls ($15) are a must-have at Hopscotch. From the very first bite, you can taste the sour acidity of dill pickles cutting through the rich filling of minced beef and cheese. When dipped into the “awesome sauce” made with a mixture of mustard, tomato and Worcestershire sauce, the flavour combination perfectly emulates the taste of a classic cheeseburger, with the added texture of crisp and non-greasy spring roll wrappers.
If you’re looking for something a little more refreshing, then I recommend trying the Victorian Beef Tartare ($18), served on wasabi crackers. With the presence of miso, nori, and kewpie (a Japanese-style mayonnaise with a smooth and thin consistency), the dish has distinct East Asian flavour characteristics. Furthermore, the contrasting textures between the soft and juicy beef tartare and the crunch of the wasabi crackers, give the tastebuds an added element of fun and excitement. And unlike the messy Cider & Maple Pork Jowl Tacos ($16), which required two hands to eat, the Victorian Beef Tartare certainly deserves its place in the “One Handed” section of the dining menu.
Drink wise, with a regularly updated list of 50 different types of beer, guests are spoilt for choice at Hopscotch. But if you’re like me, and have trouble being decisive in face of such a wide range of options, Hopscotch also gives you the option of a Tasting paddle ($10) featuring four different beers of your choice, which you can order through “The Publican Group” mobile app. Although it mainly focuses on craft beer , Hopscotch wouldn’t be able to call itself an “urban” bar, without serving frosé.
With several tiny golden gummy bears peeking their tiny heads from beneath a pink slushy mountain, Hopscotch’s version of frosé, Ms Frosé & Her Drunken Gummy ($11), is certainly a fun and refreshing take on the most hyped up drink of the summer. If neither beer or frosé are your preferred choice of alcohol, the bar also features a well-ranging wine list, nine signature cocktails, spiked slushies, three different “DIY Kocktail Kits” for two ($34), and Boozy Iced Tea ($11) or the classic Pimm’s Punch ($11) available on tap.
Address: 4/2 Riverside Quay, Southbank 3006
Contact: 03 9690 6999
Hours: Mon – Fri from 11:30am – late, Sat – Sun from 8:30am – late
Feature image: Supplied