The Hack

Time Out (Melbourne) - - FOOD & DRINK - Fred Sig­gins


flick name, the Hack in Port Mel­bourne is a bright and airy venue for G-rated drink­ing and din­ing. This huge old pub, built in 1860, is the per­fect set­ting for a neigh­bour­hood bar and eatery, with huge arched win­dows flood­ing the front bar with nat­u­ral light on three sides. A lick of white paint and some mod­ern touches straight from the ca­sual Mel­bourne bistro play­book and you’ve got your­self a lovely place to pass an au­tumn evening, cock­tail in hand. Which is a good place to start. The Pas­sion­fruit Batida is a bril­liant trop­i­cal num­ber, lit­tle known out­side of Brazil but com­mon fuel there for beach­side par­ties. The blend of cachaça (Brazil’s na­tive rum) with crushed ice, con­densed milk and pas­sion­fruit ends up some­where be­tween a Piña Co­lada and a Pas­sion­fruit Mar­garita. De­spite kick-ass cock­tails, most folks in this neigh­bour­hood are more about the fam­ily meal than the liq­uid lunch. Any good bar­be­cue joint should be judged on its brisket, and this one is good. While not as smoky as some, it rides that ra­zor-thin line be­tween mushy and tough for the per­fect tex­ture. Two styles of house bar­be­cue sauce are avail­able. One is dark, sweet and fruity, but we reckon the other, a lighter, South Carolina style based on yel­low mus­tard, is the win­ner, es­pe­cially if you pre­fer sour and savoury over sweet. Mac and cheese cro­quettes are mar­vel­lously bland and comforting, free from the adul­ter­ations (truf­fle oil, lob­ster, et cetera) that ruin so many. The per­fect ac­com­pa­ni­ment to bar­be­cue is of course beer, and this list is up to the job. A Co-con­spir­a­tors Ma­tri­arch New Eng­land IPA has the re­strained bit­ter­ness and juicy trop­i­cal fruits to cut through all that fatty meat, just one of 15 taps proudly pour­ing “no draught, only craft”, and a great range of styles like Green Bea­con Pas­sion­fruit Gose, Kaiju Krush and Bad Shep­herd Hazel­nut Brown Ale. The fam­i­lies of this neigh­bour­hood have al­ready fig­ured out that the Hack is a fun and easy go-to, but we reckon there’s a party to be had here when the kids go to bed. Those Espresso Mar­ti­nis on tap won’t drink them­selves.

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