|Corner of Loop building on Meyers Place|
Halfway down was a bar I could never quite recall the name of, dark grey and moody-looking, with a few outdoor tables hosting mysterious, straight-faced smokers. After a few nights out in the area, I ventured within its walls, and discovered a cool, dark space with unfailingly grumpy-looking hipster staff, low cushioned seating and sections that could be reconfigured via roller curtains attached to the ceiling. More often than not, a private function was taking place at the back, making use of a small screening room, or beats were playing late on Saturdays, with colourful graphics thrown around a large screen. Eventually, I learned its name: Loop Bar, and I would go there occasionally, if I was feeling grungy. It wasn't a regular pit-stop on my list of preferred drinking holes.
Fast forward four years, and I found myself attending a few Meetup gatherings at Loop Bar. I was now partaking in the private functions I had previously observed - more than that: enjoying interacting with like-minded people in this cool space with its conversation-oriented nooks and crannies; watching presentations in the screening room whilst devouring dips and Turkish bread. Pitched as a creative project space and bar, I saw Loop Bar living up to its potential, and it crept up a few notches in my esteem.
|New Melbourne CBD rooftop bar - Loop Roof|
Suddenly, the word was out. Melbourne had a new rooftop bar. A hip, central one, that everyone was talking about. No, it wasn't completely out of the blue: it was the rooftop of Loop Bar, a new venture by speakeasy Eau De Vie's Josh Crawford, and Gareth Edser.
|Fun and baubles|
I tried out Loop Roof one Saturday evening in January - incidentally, to commemorate my five years in Melbourne. Marked by a subtle doorway next to Loop Bar, you climb the stairs up three storeys to the roof level.
I got there 'early' (6pm), hoping to nab a table or two. Ha! No such luck. Half of Melbourne was already there, presumably also 'to check it out'. No matter - we squished onto the end of someone else's table, eventually spreading to the next one when our neighbours left. With limited weekend trading hours (currently Friday from 3pm, Saturday from 5pm and Sunday from midday), it's understandable that the hot new venue in town is in high demand, but I hope the rush calms down a bit over time. Climbing a gazillion stairs to get there isn't worth it unless there's a seat at the end!
|View north from Loop Roof|
|"French blue and sulphur crested balls"|
Loop Roof has a lot going for it. Fantastic location, cityscape views, bartending and venue expertise, a name already known in Melbourne's hospitality scene, and a retractable awning and heaters, making it an all-weather venue. I read reviews and comments lauding its design as great and even 'adorable', but I found it patchy and frankly not that great. Apparently the style aimed for was laid-back, modern tiki, evident in the use of lawn furniture, black astroturf (yes, black!), and abundant natural foliage. I was even 'bitten' by a cactus; mini scabs on my hand the next day were testament! (It was my fault though - excessive gesturing!)
But then you have these odd bits and pieces: overhead is a "swirl of French blue and sulphur crested balls dancing lightly on trapeze high wires" (this is their description on Loop Roof's website), which to me looked exactly like those blue and white swimming pool lane divider baubles - you know the ones? One of my friends cutely described them as a "massive abacus". Sure, they were cool, and interesting to look at, and summery... but tiki?! Nah.
|Swimming pool lane markers?|
Likewise, the drinks menu is inside those crappy plastic photo books you pick up at bargain department stores. Maybe they were aiming for cute, but didn't quite hit the mark. Bar tabs are held by retro Playboy playing cards - again, unusual, but not tiki, and some folks might even be offended by the sexist angle. (Do they have male ones? Hunkmania or Chippendale cards? C'mon, fair play, guys!)
Drinks-wise, I was impressed. Cocktails are thoughtfully presented and seem to be the intended feature. Cocktails are showcased as full of flavour without that inherent tacky sweetness, with more of a focus on herbal, earthy elements. I drank sparkling wine and it was served in champagne saucers, which I loved. Tick! I have also seen pics posted by friends on social media of alcoholic snow cones, which I didn't realise Loop Roof offered. Will definitely be trying these on the next hot day I'm there.
Service was calm and friendly, despite the constant throng of customers waiting to order. I was pleasantly surprised that table service was offered. Already an improvement on my former experiences at Loop Bar downstairs!
Food is bitsy and obviously designed as an accompaniment to drinking. We shared a few things: mushrooms, croquettes, a cured meat board served with crostini, but the only dish I remembered to take a photo of (yes, the alcohol was setting in) was the fried whitebait. It was tasty, but as one reviewer put it, they're basically fried bits with eyes.
Still, the food is not the main drawcard. Despite the inconsistent design theme, I can see Loop Roof developing into quite a mainstay. Its surroundings and retractable awning promise fun, even in the wintertime. Plus, it's nice to have another rooftop option where prices aren't through the roof (excuse the pun), especially with the nearest rooftop competition being Madame Brussels and Siglo.
|Look over and you can see neighbouring Madame Brussels|
Loop Roof is absolutely worth a visit. Apparently, like its ground level counterpart, the rooftop bar will be utilised for creative projects in future, and more food will be on offer. The vibe is definitely fun and relaxed, and despite the hard work of climbing so many stairs to get there, there is the reward of delicious drinks at the top. Just make sure you double-check their opening hours before making the climb.