For a stroll through the delights of Hoo Ha Bar that explores the atmosphere, food menu, cocktail list and beers on tap, check the Snapshot Gallery here.
From its perch on South Brisbane, Hoo Ha Bar is indeed an original space. Bordering the flashiness of South Bank, and the arcadian vitality of Woolloongabba, Hoo Ha serves as a merited portal between the contrasting suburbs. The focus of Hoo Ha is definitely the bar: craft beers on tap, bottled varieties stored with Australian white and sparkling wines, a selection of spirits and local reds. The term ‘rustic‘ certainly comes to mind when walking through the glass doors off Tribune Street. The exposed brick feature wall gives way to quirky timber tables, stools and a leather chesterfield; and all polished floors. The arthouse ambiance works well with what could essentially be a man cave – which has all the makings for one (sans playstation) but most decidedly isn’t.
Generally, the points of focus for restaurants, bistros and cafes are the kitchen, the bar secondary to the menu. But Hoo Ha first and foremost shines the spotlight on the bar, to pair dishes to their ales, wines and spirits. Their cocktail list is all about the desired impact and effect such as the Zap: a refreshingly tropical blend; the Ka-Pow: Hoo Ha’s twist on the mojito; or the Boom: a boozy dessert in a glass. It’s certainly easier than dealing with and remembering fancy-shmancy names.
Hoo Ha certainly presents a substantial food menu with abundantly seasoned offerings designed to keep the tastebuds requiring refreshment – frequently. Hervey Bay scallops seared in herb butter with crisp pancetta and pea puree would certainly go down well with a number of beverages on site, from the Tesabella sparkling to the Prickly Moses Red Ale. The charcuterie of chef’s selections with cured meats, local cheese, marinated olives, pickled vegetables, house-made dips and warmed breads are perfect for grazing, well accompanied by the Burleigh 28 Pale or Hoo Ha’s signature Old Fashioned based on Buffalo Trace bourbon and house spiced rum and served sweetly with bitters and cola atop an ice sphere. In Hoo Ha language, simply ask for an ARGGH!
Their brioche sliders are the bomb. The pork, pickled vegetables and mayonnaise are a testimonial to luscious umami flavours, only gently vetoed by the relish of the vegetables. The haloumi, eggplant, pumpkin and miso slider is certain to satisfy full-bodied vegetarian tastes; the haloumi the bacon of the herbivorous world and therefore foodie perfection. A good cider or their Penley Pinot Noir are impeccable matches to these brioche babies.
But the standouts are the burgers. In a city where gourmet burgers are the norm, let it be known that an establishment reflects their entire ideology just from a dish that serves up a bun, salad and meat patty. The banh mi style slow braised pork with pickled cucumber, carrot and chilli on ciabatta served with sriracha mayo and greens is a taste sensation. As it stands, banh mi are already refreshing to the palate as an exotic sub sandwich. The braised pork is surprisingly subtle, no doubt a result of its Vietnamese-French traditions. The textures of carrot balance the softness of the meat, all nicely offset by the nip of pickles while the heat of the Thai sauce is poised by the creaminess of mayonnaise. Pair this to the cocktail that produces an Ouch effect: a marriage of fruity flavours with citrus infused vodka, pink grapefruit juice and peach bitters. Heaven ensues.
The vegetarian burger with spiced eggplant, crispy haloumi, roasted pumpkin, greens and miso mayo on warmed ciabatta is also smooth on the palate. It’s rather substantial for something so wholesome and plant-like. Paired to the Mornington Peninsula Pale Ale, the malty undertones offset by flavours of vanilla and coffee in this wheat porter boosts the eggplant, pumpkin and halmoumi flavours offset by the miso mayo. Eating vegetarian clearly doesn’t mean a farewell to flavours.
Hoo Ha Bar would be a tribute to hipster cool but there’s an authentic touch in every nook and cranny superseding the trite bohemian trend. It’s too genuine and too serene. There’s none of the brouhahah or uproar of a bar under pressure. If there is, it never transmits to the front. If anything, Hoo Ha has all the aesthetics of a Miles Davis album: relaxed tempos, light tones and formal arrangements with classic foundations.
Hoo Ha Bar
41 Tribune Street, South Brisbane
Photographer: Lady Lex