Skip to main content

Loop Bar & Loop Roof

When I first arrived in Melbourne five years ago, I became good friends with Meyers Place in the CBD. It housed favourite haunts of mine, Lane's Edge and Waiter's Club, plus the small-but-funky Meyers Place Bar, the Deco-style Lily Blacks and, at the laneway's end, on Little Collins, the ever-charming Bar Lourinha.

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.

Subtle doorway

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!)

Green stuff

Garden furniture

Black astroturf

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 menu

Tab card

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.

Champagne saucer

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.

Loop Roof on Urbanspoon

Loop Bar on Urbanspoon

Popular posts from this blog

Spice Temple

Spice Temple  Neil Perry's Fine Dining Chinese Restaurant at Crown, Southbank, Melbourne
It's considered an institution in Melbourne, and with a chef to its name like Neil Perry, a location like Southbank, and an existence of six years in the Melbourne restaurant scene (when staying power is notoriously elusive), it's no wonder. Spice Temple's name is a pretty accurate description of the restaurant: food heavy in spices and spiciness; a dim space with a sort of hushed reverence.

The quiet tone of Spice Temple (Shop 7, Crown Complex, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank) could well be due to its design. With lots of dark wood and more traditional red and gold carpet, one might be forgiven for thinking it's a little dated. What keeps it current is the symmetrical and perpendicular fittings, creating neat squared-off eating nooks, and the dark, felt-like soundproofing material spaced out overhead, muffling any white noise.

Walking into the restaurant's reception area, yo…

Mr. Miyagi

It's the place that was made infamous by the 'chopsticks incident' last December, where a young Richmond Tigers AFL player drunkenly threatened to attack a woman dining nearby with his chopsticks. But of course, Mr. Miyagi had already developed a cult following well before that.

Opening in October 2013 on the ever-so-hip Windsor portion of Chapel Street, and tickling nostalgic fancies with its reference to 1984 classic The Karate Kid, the restaurant has enjoyed a steady stream of customers since. I remember stopping by with a friend one Thursday night mid last year to enquire about a table, and we were told it would be a two-hour wait. Well! Either this place is really good, I thought, or really good at hype.

I made a calculated plan with friends to score a table there on a Friday night recently. I rocked up nice and early, 6:45pm-ish, and put my name down for a table. They advised the wait would be approximately an hour, probably less, noted down my mobile number and enco…

Saint Crispin

When Smith Street had just become a local area for me, I used to walk past Cavallero and think about how I 'must try that place soon'. But as everyone knows, Smith Street (and surrounds) is not short of venues, and I must have been busy checking out all the others first, because before I knew it, Cavallero had closed and I had missed my chance. Apparently it had been struggling. Who then, would dare to take on the site, and what would they make of it? Smith Street is a prime location, but it's also full of competition. This would have to be good.

Enter Scott Pickett (Estelle Bistro) and Joe Grbac (The Press Club). Two chefs who used to work together at London's fancy-pants The Square (which boasts not one, but two Michelin stars), they joined forces to open a brand new venue as both business partners and co-head chefs. The result: Saint Crispin (300 Smith Street, Collingwood).

Named for the patron saint of shoemakers, Saint Crispin acknowledges its site's origins a…