Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the Hack in Port Melbourne
1 Crockford Street, Port Melbourne
When? October 5, 2018.
First review (last as Sloaney Pony circa 2013).
A pub that has worn many aliases over the years – Sloaney, Blarney Stone as some – has been re-imagined as the Hack, a fun, brightly coloured, not-too-serious pub, that is the gateway to Port Melbourne’s Bay St.
Honoring their eponymous craft brew, Hack Golden, the pub has literally opened up and let the sun in, with the inside a mix of candy coloured walls, white dominates, and space aplenty to breast the bar, or have a drink at the table and watch the passing parade. The new owners have not touched the peeling facade of the exterior.
Love the fact that one of the residents of the Hack has designed the colour combo. Also, one of the crew has clearly raided their old home and brought a stack of board games to complement the good time. (If you don’t know the answer to every Trivial pursuit question from the original version then where ‘y been’?).
The Hack, which manages its large interior very well with a slightly elevated dining room separate to the running of the (smallish) front bar, is the essence of a minimalistic approach to a pub nowadays.
The food menu – split day and night – has a few options that run to the formcard but if you are looking for choices replete with pub favourites, then not here – for the moment. It’s the same story with the wine.
But it is easily likeable. No TAB/pokies. It’s totally modern with a ripper soundtrack played at the right level. To me, this pub is stripping back the food offer, but lovingly providing the craft.
Another face here at this landmark and predict this pub will be a fixture on bucket lists when socialising on weekends.
The Hack keeps it simple. Having started out as BBQ, the menu reflects an easy attitude to its food with such as harrissa calamari ($19), corn on the cob with pecorino and burnt chilli butter ($8), buffalo wings w/sour cream ($12) doing the sharing, while mains number around 6 – excluding burgers – and have a similar feel such as salmon fillet on tomato soaked couscous ($28), or the top of the range Lamb rump with kipflers, mushroom, pea puree ($32).
Curiously no steak or parmas.
Entrees: $12. Mains $24. Desserts: $15.
Mac n cheese croquettes, aioli. $12. Good. So popular now on pub menus. Half a dozen come hot, good coating, deep flavours, no problems.
Pan fried Gnocchi, tomato/basil sauce, dried olives ricotta, zucchini. OK-Good. $23. Presented in a deep bowl, this was an interesting combination of flavours; some good (pasta sauce, ricotta), others superfluous (dried olives were barely noticeable, and zucchini dominated everything).
If you love the craft drops, then come in! No big commercial hitters, just some local heroes, including Hack golden, a very easy drink on a warm day. Stomping Ground, Moon Dog, Urban Alley Rye, 8 Wired, Wayward are a mere sample. The Hack presents its beer well so the care factor is immediately evident.
There is enough choice in wine with a few only by the glass, such as Punt Road PG ($10/$50) or Chalmers vermentino ($13/$65). The ratio is 1:5 in pricing so there is no discount to buying by the bottle. To be fair, like the beer, it is different and has surprises. Median price is $13/65, which is a little over the pub average for mine.
SERVICE AND STYLE:
Like it a lot, with genuinely enthusiastic publicans having a crack and engaging you in a meaningful way. The comfort factor that has been the calling card of this pub over many guises remains so settle in and enjoy. Summer should see this pub thrive.
Good luck to the young team who are running this. Not sure if it is their first incursion of pub management, but the early signs are fine.
There is a clear direction to keep things minimal and if anything the push is clearly on the beer/cocktail/wine side of things with the food playing the (good) support.
There is a cheekiness in one of its cocktails named The Port Melbournian, which to me is a clever, unsubtle nod to less gentrified times. It contains Bulleit Bourbon, Melbourne moonshine, bitters, port, and absinthe ($19 if you want to try!).
Fun, like the new team at the Hack.
Photo: The Hack on Facebook