Sitting and sipping in Sydney's best small bars every Monday. Check here for regular reviews.
Barhoppers. Grasshoppers. A match made in literary heaven. But was this punnalicious coincidence a precursor for our bar experience? Maybe not heaven, but we’re on our way.
Any inner city hipster wants to be able to reach their destination via a sneaky back alley. Grasshopper’s hideaway location was definitely an exciting beginning to our night. Tucked away in a shady corner, the light streamed through the chequered holes of the milk crates used as chairs for the outside smoking bar bums. Then upon entrance you can either choose to ascend the stairs to the restaurant or descend into the darkness of the underground bar.
The first thing I saw was my fellow barhoppers crammed at a table only meant for four. As our party grew to nearly ten we weren’t feeling at home. But the popularity of this bar is clearly seen in our uncomfortable seating arrangement.
As we lept upon the next empty table we then could start to really appreciate the décor of Grasshopper Bar. With a quirky feel, we enjoyed fighting over the best and strangest looking stool and loved the jam lid coasters and vinyl record placemats. The garden gnomes watching down from their perch were the Grasshopper deities looking after us from above. The barhoppers love detail so these wonderful little surprises were definitely a highlight of our hop. Unfortunately though the pop music didn’t quite match this quirkiness; a little too mainstream for an edgy underground bar. That probably had something to do with the young professionals crowd – get there before 7 on a week night and you’ll be wondering where you left your tie.
The drinks came in beakers and jars of all shapes and sizes. We tasted each other’s cocktails and definitely appreciated the sophisticated balance of flavors. The bartenders were really friendly and eager to suggest drinks. And they were enthusiastic about my biggest test; the non-alcoholic challenge. As a non drinker I don’t like to be excluded from the fun glasses and tasty treats so at every hop I ask the bartender what speciality concoction they can make me that isn’t lemon, lime and bitters. Grasshopper’s barman made me a mocktail which was just a little too exy for some fruit juice and ice (but it was a pretty yummy fruit juice and ice.) The wine list was nicely padded out, both by the glass and by the bottle. The bartenders certainly didn’t have the same generous hand that most others do when it came to pouring, but you can’t blame them for our being acclimatised to ocean-sized glasses of wine.
From the menu we tried the kipfler potatoes, crispy chicken and smoke salmon croque monsieur. Although we were satisfied with the flavours of our choices (the eggplant dip and kipfler potatoes in particular get a big tick), the menu was fairly confusing and the meals we were given seemed a far stretch from their descriptions on the blackboard.
When the best morning coffee joints and cafes close, where can the tired and caffeine withdrawn city folk go for their evening fix? Well the Grasshopper staff are not only bartenders but baristas. My nightcap was more like a night cappuccino which fittingly enough also came in a jar. Creamy and delicious this coffee rivalled that of Joe Black and Single Origin, and it’s never-ending supply all through the night shot my barhop rating of Grasshopper up to 4 jam jars out of 5.