Indie chic, retro video games and affordable Thai food are not images that often spring to mind when one thinks of Chapel Street. But then again, nestled amidst a tireless parade of the fashionable and the pretentious, Revolver itself has always been an anomaly in that particular neighbourhood.
Tucked away adjacent to the infamous Front Bar, Colonel Tan’s has been lovingly put together with an identity that is distinctly its own. The high ceiling and retro furniture contribute to its studio feel, a unique bohemian mixture of art deco, Thai pop art, psychedelia and Shepard Fairey propaganda. Even arcade games and mixing decks seem right at home amidst all the fruity décor.
Of course, Revolver is known first and foremost as a live music venue and bar, so it should come as no surprise to see an extensive selection of drinks ranging from the standard to the decidedly extravagant. Particularly, our Espresso Martini was immaculately prepared and presented; creamy and rich without being overpowering, it’s a luxurious option for those looking for a touch of class at the end (or indeed, the beginning) of their meal.
The drinks menu itself is full of cheeky wordplay and the more geeky amongst us will have fun trying to identify the dozens of pop culture references tossed in. More importantly, though, prices are reasonable and there is no shortage of options, whatever the mood of your night.
Our first dish was a cold Mushroom and Lotus Root Salad, immaculately presented and very tasty. Sweet, succulent and lovingly sauteed with just the right amount of crunch, it could be called a guilty pleasure for vegetarians. The mushrooms in particular were fantastic.
As the most coconut-y of the traffic light trio of Thai curries, our Yellow Curry struck a nice balance between the richly saucy and the delicate. Colonel Tan’s vegetables are of a high quality, snapping with freshness and photogenic in their own right.
Honest, hearty Thai food is anything but subtle and Colonel Tan’s offerings don’t try to shun that notion. Flavour is here in spades, whether you’re ready for it or not, and if a potent marriage of tart chopped ginger and sweet pineapple doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, you might like to stay away from the Betel Leaf Salad with Snapper. We enjoyed ours, though, for all its boldness.
Lastly, we indulged in the menu’s flagship item, a Deep Fried Baby Snapper with lemongrass and kaffir lime. Cooked to perfection and delicately seasoned, it’s a real treat. The flesh was moist and fell off the bone. Its garnishes, in particular the aromatic kaffir lime, are tasty and interesting enough that you may even want to forego the accompanying sweet chilli dipping sauce.
Vegetarians are more than adequately looked after, whilst carnivores will likely find most of the more humane menu items options quite filling. With mains prices ranging from a very affordable $12 to around $20, everyone’s a winner.
Meals are primarily served at one of a dozen or so tables towards the rear of the venue, however ‘vintage’ couches blur the lines between restaurant and bar, and you may choose to take your meal there in between laps of Rainbow Road on the old Nintendo 64.
The staff, like the rest of the venue, are decidedly and refreshingly un-Chapel in appearance. It is clear that they take pride in their unique brand and are always eager to please. Thursday is locals night and those sporting a 3181 postcode are entitled to some generous discounts.
Forget what you thought you knew about Revolver, strap on your bibs and get ready for a fun, relaxed and delicious time at Colonel Tan’s.