Taking off where others have failed, The Hive is a casual and cool affair that’s easy on the wallet, as Paul Chai reports.
The Erskineville site where the Hive Bar now sits seemed doomed as a string of bars took on the neighbouring Rose of Australia pub (one of the area’s best) and lost. But this low-fi, funky addition to Erko village has proven that when you get the basics right, the local clientele will happily switch allegiances – at least for a night or two.
When we pitch up on a sunny weekday afternoon the place is – if you’ll excuse the pun – buzzing. And that’s what you notice most about the place, as it is now always rammed with animated punters telling stories at the bi-fold windows, spilling out onto the footpath tables or fronting up to the small bar, made of recycled timber, to listen to the relaxing tunes.
Often it can seem like a spontaneous house party, be it the regular Wednesday night DIY vinyl club that makes use of the house decks or a one-off Octoberfest with one-litre steins and oompah music.
While the previous bars worried more about look than feel, Hive has taken a relaxed but contemporary approach to its decor. Furniture is mostly recycled and of the mix-and-match variety allowing you to create your own space depending on the size of your party. It is all set off with casually graffitied walls, local art installations, simple paper lanterns and a bar area where metallic alien figurines jostle for space with bottles of tequila.
The latter is put to excellent use in quite simply one of the best margaritas this side of the city ($12). My companion, on the other hand, heads for the spring martini ($12). It may be a month late (the summer martini is yet to materialise) but its mix of cucumber and mint muddled with gin and a splash of apple juice proves to be a cocktail for all seasons.
For nibbling at the bar I recommend a handful of the fiery chilli nuts, chilli almonds or wasabi peas (all $2), but we are after more substantial fare.
My companion opts for the very popular pizza and drink deal for a reasonable $12 and it doesn’t disappoint. The chorizo pizza has a crisp yet slightly doughy base and is topped with capsicum, Spanish onion and rocket, which my companion teams with a punchy glass of house red.
We add in a mix of share plates: plump triangles of samosa ($7) with just enough bite to hold their own against the chorizo; menu standard salt and pepper squid ($9), which comes out tender and perfectly spiced; and a plate of “good old hot chips”, crisp on the outside and pillow-soft in the centre.
I shift to beer in order to try the E’ville pilsner, a concoction that is specially brewed for the bar by the neighbouring St Peters brewery. It is a little too sweet to stay on all night, but is yet another welcome nod to the local community. There is also Blonde, Scharers Lager and St Arnou Pale Ale on tap (schooners $4.70/pints $6.80) and an eclectic selection of boutique bottled brews. There is also a focus on sustainability at the bar from waste and recycling through to an emphasis on sustainable and organic produce. But the one thing that Hive seems sure to sustain is its popularity among Erskineville’s drinking set.
Hive bar, 93 Erskineville Road, Erskineville. Phone 9519 9911 or see the Hive bar website
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Hive Bar?