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On my way home from work one unassuming Tuesday in January, I sauntered past Holliava (36 Swan Street, Richmond), fully intending to have an AFD - "alcohol-free day", for those not in the know (don't worry, they don't happen often).

Then I saw the sign.

It wasn't a religious enlightening - God, no (...see what I did there?! Sorry. Dad joke.) - but it may as well have been. Happy Hour! $4 drinks! Carlton schooners, vodka, house wines!

Well, I thought. I've worked hard today. I don't have to be anywhere for a while. I have internet on my phone.

So, in I went.

I avoided the front bar. Despite its very late-night moodiness, which is probably perfect when you're trashed on Saturday night, yelling over loud music to have a non-conversation with a cute stranger, I just can't convince myself that it's an overly attractive place to sit in the early evening during Daylight Savings. Unless you are sitting at the window looking out onto the street. But that's different.

I busted the barman on his phone - but it was early, no one was drinking yet (but meeeeeee) and clearly he was bored. I'd have been doing the same thing. In fact, I recommended a website for him to check out. And to his credit, he put the phone away as soon as he saw me. I hope this doesn't get him in trouble. If it does... I'm so sorry, Nice Mr Barman.

I bought my $4 house white - not too crap, and I actually saw it come out of a bottle, no less - and carried my patootie out to the beer garden, which I'd not visited before.

It was really nice! Yes, I was surprised. I'd been to Holliava once or twice before and been subjected to drooling stares from ageing, burly ex-tradies in the front bar section, which probably helps explain my aversion. But $4 Happy Hour drinks made me see the light of the back courtyard. SOLD.

I spent a pleasant little while in the sunshine, enjoying the grungy, almost Banksy-style oriental art, wooden palings and trickling water feature, which for once didn't make me need to use the bathroom (must be a special fountain). I had a lengthy phone chat with my wonderful little sister, and the world was brought to rights again.

Water feature

Hence, Holliava scores Approval! I'll head straight to the beer garden next time, preferably during $4 Happy Hour (I'm not sure if this applies every night or what the exact hours are - it's not up on their website. Which, by the way, is schmick, and on the whole, very informative. Floor plans, transport info, the lot. Check it out). And, if I'm ever feeling young and foolish, I might even check out Holliava again on a Saturday night. Maybe.

Holliava on Urbanspoon

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