A restaurant can be measured by its dessert menu and a place where this is no further from the truth is The Reverence Hotel. Though The Rev (as it’s fondly known by its faithful patrons) is actually a live venue with adjoining bar, which just happens to have a killer Mexican-slanted menu with loads of vegan options including the desserts.
Before I even contemplate my choice in main, I’m heading straight for the dessert menu. There are the usual permanent fixtures – lemon tart and chocolate empanadas (pastry parcels filled with melted chilli chocolate) – but I’m drawn in by the night’s special of chocolate nachos. The nachos can be made to order as a vegan version which means I’m treated by rarities such as vegan chocolate sauce and soy ice-cream.
There was never a question as to whether The Rev would offer vegan desserts or vegan options across the board for that matter. The proprietors are well-known in Melbourne’s underground music circles as the management who ran The Arthouse near Queen Victoria Market. The Arthouse was renowned for its diehard commitment to burgeoning metal and punk bands, providing them with lodgings and a stage in which to wield their craft. The Arthouse and its punters were, in an essence, a tight-knit community that was woven together by good music and good ethics.
When it was time for The Arthouse’s lease to be renewed, management was forced to shut up shop due to sky-rocketing costs as a result of Melbourne’s changing liquor licensing laws. Unfazed by the possibility of yet another long-stayer in Melbourne’s live venue scene dying, management crossed the Maribyrnong River into Footscray. It’s now been two years since The Rev swung open its doors and the place is thriving with a tempting long list of weekly shows and menu to match.
For starters, there are the quintessential Rev’s Nachos – a massive bowl of black bean layered corn chips that can be sized for up to four hungry punters. For main, a quesadilla is a sure belly-filler with flour tortillas folded around a filling of smoky tofu, beans, corn and salsa, partnered with a side of The Rev’s signature spicy fries, and all washed down convincingly with a Dos Equis lager.
At this point, a punter can be excused for feeling on the bursting side, though there are still those chocolate nachos to contend with. And this is when the headliner of the evening is cheered on. The nachos are crunchy chocolate pastry triangles doused in rich chocolate sauce, roasted hazelnuts and not one, but two scoops of soy ice-cream; one vanilla and one chocolate. There’s a spoon on the serving plate, though it’s more fun to dip the pastries into the sauce and ice-cream as the hazelnuts are stolen from the bowl by cheeky wandering fingers.
Order a smorgasbord of vegan Mexican treats from the menu at The Reverence Hotel, 28 Napier Street Footscray Victoria 3011. Phone: 03 9687 2111. Stick around into the wee hours for the music too.